The distance between North Block, the headquarters of the Finance Ministry and Mint Street, the seat of power of the Reserve Bank of India 1,500 km away in Mumbai, was bridged last Thursday during a farewell lunch for the recently retired RBI Governor D. Subbarao.
The relations between the Finance Ministry and RBI, never an easy one, came under tremendous pressure not once but several times during Subbarao’s stint.
So it was natural that the Finance Ministry mandarins who were invited for a select farewell lunch meeting at the Delhi Gymkhana Club for Subbarao were expecting the usual, emotional speeches showering praises on the out-going Governor, a heavy lunch and a farewell present for him.
But those who attended the function say that it was a farewell with a difference. Despite the strains in the relationship a lot of thinking went into selecting a coffee table book for Subbarao.
A book on Indian dance styles was chosen given the penchant that the former Governor has for dance forms, especially the Brazilian style Salsa.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, the Chief Guest at the event, went a step ahead telling Subbarao that he might have wanted to walk alone as Governor but he never wants the Governor to dance alone.
This seemingly impromptu statement from the Finance Minister attempted to put to rest the ghost of what Subbarao had said on August 29, while delivering his last public lecture as the RBI Governor in Mumbai.
“I do hope Finance Minister Chidambaram will one day say, ‘I am often frustrated by the Reserve Bank, so frustrated that I want to go for a walk, even if I have to walk alone. But thank God, the Reserve Bank exists,” he had said.
This comment was a response to Chidambaram’s earlier statement on how the Government will walk alone on the path of growth, if it has to.
Considering Chidambaram’s nature of responding promptly, one would have thought that he would say something in public too.
But he preferred to keep quiet and at last when he replied, nobody was hurt and the chapter was closed forever.