RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Wednesday replied to the ‘history major central bank governor’ taunt faced by him, questioning if Argentinian football legend Lionel Messi is also a post-graduate in history.

An interviewer anchoring a fireside chat at a summit organised by Business Standard compared his position to an opponent facing Messi at a football arena in Qatar, to which Das replied with wit.

“Don’t mind it, but was Messi also a post-graduate in history? Not often, but I am sometimes reminded by people that I am supposed to have done history,” Das said.

Das, a bureaucrat who has done master’s degree in history from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College, was brought in as the RBI governor after the sudden exit of Urjit Patel in December 2018 following differences with the government.

The first non-economist governor of the RBI in 28 years, Das recently completed four years at the helm, captaining the ship amid choppy waters and taking on crises like the Covid pandemic and the inflation surge following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Since his appointment, many critics, especially ones on the social media, have been harping on Das’ academic record as a history graduate, while those in defence often point out to his long stint in the finance ministry at high positions including work as economic affairs secretary and India’s G-20 sherpa to drive home his credentials to lead the central bank.

Meanwhile, Das reminisced briefly about his student life in New Delhi during the fireside chat, mentioning how a DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) bus route number helps him remember complex numbers on lending rate growth in the system.

Das admitted that it is very difficult to remember numbers like the lending rate hikes of 117 basis points (bps) in the system, but “visualizing” about the bus route number has helped him.

“The lending rates have gone up by about 117 bps. I remember 117 because in my student days, they had a DTC bus with that number 117,” Das quipped.

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