Suppressing criticism can lead to bad policies: Raghuram Rajan

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New Delhi, Oct 1: Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan has written an article published on his Linkedin page that talks about the importance of dissent in a democracy. Suppressing dissent is a “sure fire recipe” for policy mistakes on the other hand public criticism will allow course corrections to policy.

“…suppressing dissent is a sure fire recipe for policy mistakes. If every critic gets a phone call from a government functionary asking them to back off, or gets targeted by the ruling party’s troll army, many will tone down their criticism. The government will then live in a pleasant make-believe environment, until the harsh truth can no longer be denied,”Rajan, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, writes.

He was driven to writing this article, he says, in the run-up to Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary on October 2.
Rajan said what made India strong was its diversity, debate, and tolerance. “What makes it weak is narrow-mindedness, obscurantism, and divisiveness,” he said.

While understanding history is important, Rajan writes, “using history to thump our own chests reflects great insecurity and can even be counterproductive”.

It is essential, according to Rajan, to “foster competition in the market place for ideas”. “This means encourage challenge to all authority and tradition, even while acknowledging that the only way to dismiss any views is through empirical tests.”

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