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The unbearable hotness of being Raghuram Rajan

Unreal times, indeed!

This morning Shobhaa De, 65, got an entire column in the august pages of the Economic Times to drool over the Indian Reserve Bank's new governor - 50-year-old Raghuram Rajan.

Make sure you don't drop that towel, like Ranbir Kapoor did in Sawaariya. On the other hand... aaah... wishful thinking!

I hope the RBI governor has no press conferences today because his Sensex appeal will surely become part of it. That might be enough to make the poor man throw in the towel and high-tail it out of here back to Chicago.

But seriously, the Indian man has never had it so bad. On one hand, he's being demonized all over the world as a lecherous menace - ogling, groping, raping. On the other hand, we have Raghuram Rajan. Impossibly perfect, a mother's dream, every other Indian man's worst nightmare. Who can compete with the unbearable hotness of Raghuram Rajan?

 The unbearable hotness of being Raghuram Rajan

Who can compete with the unbearable hotness of Raghuram Rajan? AP

You can hear mothers, wives, girlfriends, gay men, Shobhaa Des of India chorus right now: "Why can't you be more like Raghu?"

Son of a diplomat. IIT AND IIM degrees. Married to his IIM classmate. Ph.D from MIT. Winner of the Fischer Black Prize for Best Economist under 40. Youngest-ever Chief Economist at the IMF. Marathon runner. Strong swimmer. Squash and tennis player. Speaks Tamil, English, Hindi and a bit of French. Plays Carnatic violin in the morning and the piano before going to bed. (OK, I made that last bit up but it could well be true.)

De is being roundly twitter-bashed for turning our poster boy of India's economic revival into a pin-up model for her Sultry Days and Starry Nights. And ET is being pilloried for allowing De to turn their pages into True Confessions. But to be fair, she is hardly the worst offender there. Clearly our men are not far behind in their Shuddh Desi Bro-mance with this Raghu.

Here's Faisal Kidwai writing about Rajan's first day on the job for Rediff.

Rajan's athletic frame filled the chair as his dark big eyes scanned the conference room full of journalists and photographers, all jostling to catch a glimpse of the man about to play a crucial role in India's destiny.

Rajan, whose handsome looks and photogenic appeal make him appear much younger than he is -- 50 years old to be exact -- waited patiently as camera flashes lit up his boyish face and then began laying out a raft of measures.

It's as if George Clooney just took over our economy and now we can all lie back, relax and let him work his magic.

Poor outgoing governor Subbarao. No one is calling him, in one sentence "thoughtful, intelligent, sharp, innovative, energetic, erudite." No one is beginning a blog post about him with the words "God, he is handsome!"

This has predictably led to digs about reverse sexism. Arnab Ray (@GreatBong) on Twitter quips he has "created petition to protest against sexual objectification of middle-aged men". Amit Prabhu K (@AmitPrabhu) says "imagine an article like this written about a woman banker. oops obama moment." That's a reference to the hot water Obama landed in for calling California's Attorney General Kamala Harris "the best-looking attorney general in the country".

But there's one clear difference between a good looking woman in the workplace and a handsome man. For all of Shobhaa De's gush there's no fear of anyone dismissing Dr. Rajan's academic prowess. There will be no discussion boards on itimes like the one about Pakistan's Hina Rabbani Khar - Is Hina Rabbani Khar all beauty and no brain? Although Men's Health magazine would probably be all too happy to put the "trim" marathon runner on its cover, no one will write reams on the front pages of newspapers about how Raghuram Rajan's rise to the top is accessorized by a Herms Birkin attach and Roberto Cavalli sunglasses. And when he speaks people will listen to what he says about interest rates.

Everyone whipping themselves into a frenzy about De's guv-luv, should just take a deep breath and relax. And all those saying Raghuram Rajan's wife should be very very nervous can relax as well. The only person who should be worried is probably India's other IIT-IIM rockstar Chetan Bhagat who now has unexpected competition. Poor Chetan Bhagat. No one has publicly admitted to any towel-dropping fantasies about him.

But then again Bhagat's books are rip-roaring bestsellers while only 100 people have probably really read Rajan's Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World's Economy. Shobhaa De might go dhak dhak over her "high-minded Hottie" but I can bet even she won't be rushing out to buy that book.

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 23:05:18 IST