New Delhi: Amid a raging debate over intolerance, Reserve Bank of India Chief Raghuram Rajan on Saturday said excessive political correctness stifles progress and called for an improved environment for tolerance and mutual respect.

Rajan also said protection of right to question and challenge was essential for India to grow.

Raghuram Rajan. PTIRaghuram Rajan. PTI

Raghuram Rajan. PTI

Speaking at the convocation of IIT Delhi, the RBI Governor said actions that physically harm anyone or show verbal contempt for a particular group, so that they damage the group’s participation in the marketplace for ideas, should certainly not be allowed.

“Sexual harassment, whether physical or verbal, has no place in society. At the same time, groups should not be looking for slights any and everywhere, so that too much is seen as offensive; the theory of confirmation bias in psychology suggests that once one starts looking for insults,
one can find them everywhere, even in the most innocuous statements,” he said.

On whether ideas or behaviour that hurt a particular intellectual position or group be banned, he said: “Possibly, but a quick resort to bans will chill all debate as everyone will be anguished by ideas they dislike. It is far better to improve the environment for ideas through tolerance and mutual respect.”

He also said that tolerance can take the offense out of a debate, and instill respect.

“Tolerance can take the offense out of a debate, and indeed instill respect. If I go berserk every time a particular button is pressed, rebels are tempted to press the button, while mischief-makers indeed do so,” he said.

“But if I do not react predictably, and instead ask button pressers to explain their concerns, rebels are forced to do the hard work of marshalling arguments. So, rebels do not press the button frivolously, while the mischief makers who abound in every group are left without an easy trigger,” Rajan said.

He added that tolerance and respect then lead to a good equilibrium where they reinforce each other.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

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RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan wants a cut in rate of rising intolerance in India