Raghuram Govind Rajan is that rare economist who has achieved something akin to popular acclaim. The son of an Indian Police Service office, Rajan is an MIT-educated economist who has previously worked as the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund as well as professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. On Saturday, he announced that he would step down as governor of the Reserve Bank of India after his term ends in September, a decision that followed a few patches of friction with the Modi government.
Rajan is credited with correctly predicting the Financial Crisis of 2008 back in 2005. Back in 2008, he was also one of the first notable people to point out that India's system of rewarding rich industrialists with government patronage is more akin to a Russia-style oligarchy than anything resembling a free-market economy. In India, he was also appreciated for qualities other than his smarts. Columnist Shobha De pointed out that Rajan was so attractive, he put the "put 'sex' back into the limp Sensex".
Little wonder, then, that Rajan's announcement of his departure was greeted by the Sunday newspapers with shock and disappointment.