T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan: Bird? Plane? Or RBI governor | Business Standard Column

T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan: Bird? Plane? Or RBI governor | Business Standard Column


November 14, 2015
History of RBI
This refers to T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan’s piece on “Bird? Plane? Or RBI
Governor” (Business Standard, Marginal Utility, November 14). First, a big thank you, to the
writer for making the article very interesting, by drawing on his treasure of
intimate knowledge about India’s central bank. We are willing to ignore the
slips like the statement that ‘A non-Hindu, by the way, is yet to be appointed
after 1937’, as we had RBI Governors like Dr Manmohan Singh who kept religion private.
We look forward to the history of monetary institutions with focus on
RBI. RBI has been publishing its history in great details, with which T C A was
also associated in recent times. My personal view is that, the author should
not withhold information which, in his perception, could be shared with public,
just because he is not able to lay hands on a ‘published source’. After all,
RBI’s own publications, which are rich in content, do not have much outreach,
beyond economists, bankers and students. Reserve Bank of India’s Annual Report
2014-15, which has the Dr Rajan touch, was almost blacked out by media!
M G Warrier, Mumbai

A Google Search gives the following additional information:

Few personalities are so close yet so distant to India's populace as the Governor of the Reserve Bank and few evocative of his awe and mystique: close, because virtually every individual, be he ever so poor or so rich, carries on his person the promise and signature of the Governor. Distant because central bankers are traditionally conservative and publicity shy. Awe they command as the custodian of the country's reserves and defenders of the external value of the currency. And, mystique they possess as purveyors of money, the commodity all desire but so few understand.
Behind the mist, and shorn of the public perception, the personality of the governor assumes importance in a specific context, the governor, more than any public or private functionary in the country, has the mandate of securing the monetary stability of the country. This impinges on the day to day life of ordinary citizens.
List of Governors

Sir Osborne Smith 
01-04-1935 to 30-06-1937
Sir Osborne Smith was the first Governor of the Reserve Bank. A professional banker, he served for over 20 years with the Bank of New South Wales and 10 years with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia before coming to India in 1926 as a Managing Governor of the Imperial Bank of India.
His stewardship of the Imperial Bank won him recognition in banking circles in India. However, his outlook on policy issues like the exchange rates and interest rates was at variance with that of the Government. He resigned prior to the completion of his term of office of three and a half years. Sir Osborne, however, did not sign any bank notes during his tenure.

Sir James Taylor
01-07-1937 to 17-02-1943
Sir James Braid Taylor was a member of the Indian Civil Service and had served for over a decade in the Currency Department of the Government of India, initially as a Deputy Controller, later as Controller of the Currency, and thereafter as additional secretary in the Finance Department. He was closely associated with the preparation and piloting of the Reserve Bank of India Bill. He served as Deputy Governor of the Bank prior to his appointment as the Governor.
His stewardship saw the Bank through the war years and the financial experiments it engendered and catalysed, including the decisive break away from a silver currency to fiat money. His second term came to an end with his sudden demise.


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