Taming the inflation dragon is never a painless affair, as India has once again been rudely reminded. After all, it took five successive quarters of insipid economic growth for core inflation to tumble into safe territory. The biggest challenge now is high food prices. The strong beginning to the monsoon this year thankfully offers some hope.
The Reserve Bank of India under Bimal Jalan had slashed interest rates during a comparable slowdown a decade ago. D. Subbarao has had to be more careful for two simple reasons: inflation has been higher and the current account deficit is wider in 2013 than it was in 2003. His decision to hit the pause button on Monday has to be seen against this background.
Inflation could likely drift down further in the coming months, unless the rupee takes a tumble. But several years of fiscal profligacy in New Delhi make it tougher for the central bank to cut rates than a decade ago.