The 'sexy' central banker who's causing a stir

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The 'sexy' central banker who's causing a stir
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Vijayanand Gupta | Hindustan Times| Getty Images

In his first month as Reserve Bank of India Governor, Raghuram Rajan has helped restore calm to volatile markets and a battered rupee. And it seems that investors are not the only ones impressed.

Rajan has been the subject of much debate in the local media over the past few weeks, with the words "rock star" and "sex symbol" bandied about.

(Read more: Raghuram Rajan: India's deficit is under control )

"The local press is saying that because Rajan is 'sexy' he will do a better job as central bank governor," says Kelly Teoh, a market strategist at trading firm IG in Singapore. "Caring about your appearance has become more acceptable, but the focus on Rajan also reflects how we've become focused on looks and style."

Indian columnist and novelist Shobhaa De, writing about the 50-year old central banker last month, said: "It's not often one gets an RBI Guv [Governor] who makes hearts go 'dhak dhak' each time he strides into a room."

She's not the only one who has focused on Rajan's appearance: A recent article on Indian news website IBN Live highlighted how the local press and social media had focused at great length on Rajan's "jawline, tailored suits and classy looks."

It went on to contrast Rajan's appearance to previous RBI governors to help explain why Rajan deserves to be compared with Bollywood movie start Ranbir Kapoor.

Rajan is not the only central banker that has had his appearance scrutinized as closely as his comments on the economy.

(Read more: Mark Carney: the 'George Clooney' of banking? )

Mark Carney, who became Bank of England Governor in July, for instance has had his appearance likened to those of American film star George Clooney. Carney's style also got a vote of confidence from leading men's magazine GQ.

And in the U.S., where Janet Yellen was nominated on Wednesday to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times commented that one more thing to admire about the central banker was her shock of gray hair.

(Read more: Obama nominates Janet Yellen to lead US Federal Reserve )

Rajan, a well-respected economist who previously worked at the International Monetary Fund, fell under immediate pressure to stabilize a battered rupee and restore confidence when he became RBI chief in early September.

The rupee hit a record low against the U.S. dollar in late August, bearing the brunt of a sell-off in emerging markets amid fears about an unwinding of U.S. monetary stimulus. India's wide-current account, sluggish economic growth and slow pace of reforms exacerbated the rupee's woes.

(Read more: Best performing currency in September? India's rupee )

Rajan has helped soothe markets by outlining measures to shore up the battered currency. The rupee has recovered about 10 percent of its value from its record low, while India's benchmark stock index rose to a three-week high on Thursday.

"Rajan has a lot of credibility and this has been one thing the market has focused on.He has been pro-active and we think he should remain so despite the fact that the Indian government heads into an election [next year]," said Teoh.

- CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC



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