|Raghuram Rajan at the meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday. (PTI)
Oct. 29: Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan responded sharply today when questioned about his nationality.
“I will answer this question once and only once,” Rajan said at a media interaction when asked if issues regarding his nationality had been settled. “I am an Indian citizen, I have always been an Indian citizen. I always held an Indian passport. I held an Indian diplomatic passport when my father was in the foreign service and when I travelled on behalf of the ministry of finance,” he said.
Rajan continued: “I have never applied for the citizenship of another country, I have never been a citizen of another country and have never taken a pledge of allegiance to another country.”
When his name was cleared by the Manmohan Singh government for the top job at the Reserve Bank, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had given a calling attention notice in Parliament asking how a foreigner could be appointed as the central banker. He had also said there were enough Indians to run the bank.
Today, Joshi said: “I will take a close look at what Mr Rajan said and collate his statements with the information I had gathered when I moved the calling attention a couple of months ago. Then I will speak on the issue.”
Rajan has spent several years in the US teaching at different universities. After completing his BTech from IIT Delhi and his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, he went to the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to do his PhD and then stayed on in the US to work.
Saying he holds a US Green Card, Rajan added: “The Green Card does not require you to take pledge of allegiance anywhere.… It simply is a work permit which you need to have to work in another country.”
In a lighter vein, he added that his Green Card was expiring and he has to restart the whole process of applying for it just to keep it going. “That is the sum total of my citizenship,” he said.
|Murli Manohar Joshi
Wondering why people are wasting time over such silly things, he asked: “Who is concerned about this? In some sense it is, to me, shameful that we spend so much time on such issues.
“To those people who are pushing this, I want to ask why should you care. But if they do care, the answer is, I am an Indian citizen and I am proud of being an Indian citizen.”
But a source close to Murli Manohar Joshi suggested the answer would not satisfy the BJP leader.
“Rajan made the point that he retains his Indian citizenship and has a Green Card that he said is akin to a work permit. That is not correct. A Green Card holder is only a few steps away from getting citizenship. If he wanted, he could have got an H-1B visa. The rules are clear,” the source said.
According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website, a “Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.” The Green Card has to be renewed after 10 years.
The H-1B visa allows a US company to employ a foreign individual for up to six years if a US citizen or resident is not available for the job. The visa petition has to be filed by the company, not the individual, and there are criteria for the work as well as the wages.
The source close to Joshi said: “He (Joshi) was advised by some of his BJP colleagues not to take up the matter but he went ahead because he was convinced that the matter merited an answer from the government. Of course, till today the government has not replied. The notice got lost in the pandemonium that marked the last session of Parliament.”