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RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan was taken aback for a short while today when asked whether issues regarding his citizenship and nationality were settled - his answer was both short and angry.
Responding to a question by a journalist at the customary post-policy media interaction, a piqued Raghuram Rajan said: "I will answer this question once and only once."
"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.
"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 Raghuram Rajan's name was cleared by the government for the top job at RBI, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi had given a notice of calling attention in Parliament asking how a foreigner could be appointed as the central banker. He had also said there were enough Indians to run the RBI.
The confusion arose as Raghuram Rajan has spent many years in the US teaching at different varsities. It can be noted that after completing his B.Tech from IIT Delhi, followed by an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, he moved to MIT to do his PhD, after which he has spent several years as an academic in the US.
Admitting that he holds a US Green Card, Raghuram Rajan said: "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, Rajan said 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 averred. Wondering why people are wasting time over such silly things, he asked, "Who is concerned about this (my citizenship). In some sense, it is, to me, shameful that we spent so much time in 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," he said.