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Raghuram Rajan defends his speech calling for tolerance, mutual respect

Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan has defended his speech that called for tolerance and mutual respect, saying India will be “crazy to lose” the biggest advantage it has to intolerance.

“It wasn’t a speech about ‘here and now’,” Rajan told Bloomberg News. “It was more about where is the dialogue going and how are we going to maximise the advantage we already have. For that, we need to keep this an open society and we resist all attempts at closing it down.”

Stating that democracy is India’s greatest strength, he said everyone should “calm down a bit in order to foster healthy debate”.

“You cannot have a debate by screaming at one another,” Bloomberg quoted Rajan as saying.

“Let the ideas fight each other, but let’s not prevent each other from saying what we think,” he said.

India, he said, would be “crazy to lose” the biggest advantage it has over countries and called the IIT Delhi speech “an exhortation to support a fundamental future underpinning growth”.

“It’s very important that both fringes, extreme left and extreme right; don’t say I’m going to shut you off if you don’t say what I want to hear,” he said. “It has to be a genuine debate. You have to preserve that environment. Thankfully, the mainstream is well and truly supportive of this.”

Delivering the convocation of IIT Delhi, his alma mater, on October 31, Rajan had said tolerance and mutual respect were necessary to improve the environment for ideas and physical harm or verbal contempt for any particular group should not be allowed.

Asserting that India’s tradition of debate and an open spirit of enquiry is critical to economic growth, he had said encouraging challenge to all authority and tradition would rule out anyone imposing a particular view or ideology because of power.

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