Why Does a 2015 Speech by Dr Rajan Appear as a 2016 Year-End Piece?

It is Still Relevant – “Strong Government May Not Move in the Right Direction”

The only readable pieces in The Straits Times are those written by external subject matter experts, as I had been saying in a few of my recent posts.

Often they use syndicated pieces, as the one in its edition today by Dr Raghuram Rajan, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and currently Professor of Finance at the hallowed University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Path to Ruin

Titled “Democracy, Inclusion and Prosperity”, the thought-provoking piece presents an interesting argument on why “strong governments may not move in the right direction.” As an example, he points out that Hitler, with a strong Government, provided Germany with extremely effective administration.

But, as Dr Rajan goes on to say, “Hitler took Germany efficiently and determinedly on a path to ruin, overriding the rule of law and dispensing with elections.”


Dr Rajan’s piece in The Straits Times today

It is a historical fact that strengthens his argument though I would prefer logical reasoning based on current dynamics for any position one takes. But when the present in some pockets moves exactly along the lines of a given situation, then it does become appropriate.

Boring Headline for a Compelling Piece

The piece is relevant for both Singapore and India where the governments are strong but may not necessarily be moving in the right direction. 

True to its style, The Straits Times used a boring headline. What I will have given it will be: “A Govt with Hitler-like Administration May Not Move in the Right Direction.” Even if it is a long one it will have drawn readers to it.

That said, what I wanted to bring up in this post is the fact that Dr Rajan’s piece, carried by The Straits Times and some Indian newspapers, is extracted from a speech he made in February 2015 (two months shy of two years) at an Ideas Festival in Goa.

He was the RBI Governor when he made the speech, a very bold one as it could have easily been taken as an attack on the Narendra Modi Government.

The thoughts articulated in the piece may be two years old but very relevant today and worthy of a close read. 

I am nonetheless amused as to why the syndicate (Project Syndicate) came up with it as a year-end piece when the speech was not made in 2016. Perhaps I am ignorant of something!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Filed under Democracy, Media, Politics

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