S Gurumurthy sues The Economist for ‘defamatory content’

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(Online Desk)

Swaminathan  Gurumurthy, a chartered accountant, an economist and a well known commentator on political and economic affairs, has sent a legal notice to The Economist for publishing defamatory content about him in a recent article questioning his credentials to be on the board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) directors.

The article titled ‘The person who is doing most to  undermine the Reserve Bank of India’, published in the web edition of The Economist on November 11, 2018, quotes economist Mohan Guruswamy as saying Gurumurthy “is a fixer who gets his things done”.

The notice dated January 6 sent to the Economist Group, its Chief Editor, the author of the article and Mohan Guruswamy, seeks an unconditional apology and withdrawal of the libellous remarks within two weeks.

According to the notice, the article, which did not have a byline, mocked his knowledge of economics and incorrectly attributed statements to him on the collapse of economic theories.

The Economist story quotes Gurumurthy as saying “the subject of economics is collapsing” and should be replaced by an Indian economics based on Swadeshi (self-reliance).

While Gurumurthy had made some of the statements mentioned in the article, he was only quoting from The Economist itself, the notice pointed out.

To clarify this misrepresentation of facts, he also issued a series of tweets. “Mr @TheEconomist, your cover story July 19-24, 2009 issue said Modern Economic Theory has collapsed. I only approvingly quoted you. But you  have charged me as saying that I say the subject of economics is collapsing. So refresh your institutional memory,” he had tweeted on November 18.

Gurumurthy says Daniel Knowles, the publication’s South Asia Correspondent, had reached out to him for his comments on “the debate about RBI”.

In his reply to the journalist, Gurumurthy said he always rejected all government positions offered to him as he wanted to remain independent of governments.

“The only exception I made was to accept the directorship of RBI under some pressure. That I did for the reason it was an independent board and no one in the government can tell me do this or that,” he says in the reply. He had also attached his profile carrying detailed information on his work and credentials.

The article, however, does not reflect the essence of Gurumurthy’s response and in fact shows him in poor light. “In the event that you elect not to pay heed to the present notice, we will be constrained to institute appropriate legal proceedings, both civil and criminal, and it would be entirely up to you to risk the consequences,” the notice warns.

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