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
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 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.
01-07-1937 to 17-02-1943
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.
Dwarkanath Deshmukh, a member of the Indian
Civil Service, was the first Indian Governor
of the Bank. His association with the Bank commenced
in 1939, when he was appointed Government’s
liason officer. He later served as Secretary
and thereafter in 1941 as Deputy Governor of
the Bank. On the demise of James Taylor, he
took over stewardship of the Bank and was appointed
Governor in August, 1943.
During his tenure as Governor,
he represented India at the Bretton Woods
negotiations in 1944, saw the transition to
Independence and the partition of the country
and the division of the assets and liabilities
of the Reserve Bank between India and Pakistan.
He helped the smooth transition of the Bank
from a shareholder’s institution to
a State owned organisation, when the Bank
was nationalised on 1st January 1949. He later
held the office of Union Finance Minister
Benegal Rama Rau
01-07-1949 to 14-01-1957
Benegal Rama Rau, a member of the Indian Civil
Service, was the longest serving Governor of
the Bank. Prior to joining the Bank he served
as the Indian Ambassador to the United States.
His tenure witnessed the commencement
of the Planning Era as well innovative initiatives
in the spheres of co-operative credit and
industrial finance. The recommendations of
the All India Rural Credit Survey Committee
appointed during his tenure led to the transformation
of the Imperial Bank of India to State Bank
of India. The proportional reserve system
of note issue was replaced by a minimum reserve
system to give the Bank greater flexibility.
He resigned in the middle of
January 1957 before his second extended term
of office expired due to differences with
the Finance Minister.
G. Ambegaokar, a member of the Indian Civil
Service, served as Finance Secretary prior to
his appointment as Deputy Governor. On the resignation
of B. Rama Rau, he was appointed as the interim
Governor till H V R Iengar could take over.
He forged closer connections
between agricultural enterprise and the Reserve
Bank’s operations. K G Ambegaonkar did
not sign any bank notes.
V R Iengar
01-03-1957 to 28-02-1962
R Iengar, a member of the Indian Civil Service,
served for a brief while as the Chairman of
State Bank of India, before being appointed
as the Governor of the Reserve Bank.
His tenure witnessed India’s
shift to decimal coinage from the earlier
system. The period saw conscious efforts to
consolidate the banking industry. The Bank
acquired powers in September 1960 to enforce
amalgamations and delicensing of banks. The
Bank was also active in catalysing medium
term lending to industry by commercial banks
by invoking the concept of refinance which
led to the establishment of the Refinance
Corporation for Industry Ltd. Deposit Insurance
for bank deposits was introduced in 1962 making
India one of the earliest countries to experiment
with Deposit Insurance. In the sphere of monetary
policy, the variable cash reserve ratio was
used for the first time as were the selective
Bhattacharya, a member of the Indian Audit and
Account Service, served as Secretary in the
Finance Ministry and later as Chairman of the
State Bank of India prior to his appointment
His tenure saw the establishment
of the Industrial Development Bank of India
(1964), and the establishment of the Agricultural
Refinance Corporation (1963) and the Unit
Trust of India (1964).
Other developments were the
introduction of the Credit Authorisation Scheme
as an instrument of Credit Regulation, the
devaluation of the Rupee in 1966, with a package
of measures including import liberalisation
and elimination of export subsidies.
01-07-1967 to 03-05-1970
Jha, a member of the Indian Civil Service, served
as Secretary to the Prime Minister, prior to
his appointment as Governor.
During his tenure,social controls
over commercial banks were introduced as an
experiment in 1968, as a part of which a National
Credit Council was established. Shortly thereafter,
14 major commercial banks were nationalised
in 1969, a step which did not have the endorsement
of the Reserve Bank.
Amongst other developments,
gold controls were brought on a statutory
basis; Deposit Insurance was in principle
extended to Cooperative banks; the Lead Bank
Scheme was introduced to facilitate credit
delivery, and the setting up of the Agricultural
Credit Board.L K Jha was appointed India’s
Ambassador to the United States in May 1970
prior to the completion of his term as Governor.
Adarkar held the post of Governor during the
interregnum till S Jagannathan could take over
He was a professional economist
and served for many years in the office of
the Economic Adviser of the Government of
India and also held important positions in
the Ministry of Commerce & Industry prior
to his appointment as the Deputy Governor
of the Bank.
He also served as India’s
Executive Director at the IMF and as Deputy
Governor, he played an active role in the
establishment of the National Institute of
16-06-1970 to 19-05-1975
was a member of the Indian Civil Service. He
had served with the Central Government and thereafter
as India’s Executive Director at the World
Bank, prior to being appointed as the Governor.
His tenure of office was characterised
by a very active monetary policy in the wake
of unprecedented inflation in the country
following the oil shock, an exponential expansion
of banking offices in pursuance of one of
the important objectives of nationalisation;
the establishment of Credit Guarantee Corporation
of India, the setting up of State Level Bankers’
Committees and the shift to floating rates
He relinquished office to take
up the post of the Indian Executive Director
at the IMF.
Sen Gupta was appointed Governor for three months
till K R Puri could assume office.
Prior to his appointment as
the Governor, he was working as Secretary
to the Department of Banking of the Ministry
20-08-1975 to 02-05-1977
Puri served as the Chairman and Managing Director
of the Life Insurance Corporation of India before
his appointment as Governor.
During his tenure, Regional
Rural Banks were set up; the Asian Clearing
Union commenced operations; the twenty point
economic programme was announced and operationalised
and a new money supply series introduced.
was the first and so far the only Governor to
be appointed from the Reserve Bank cadre, having
joined the Bank as a Research Officer in the
Economic Department. He later joined the Government
and prior to his appointment as Governor he
served as Additional Secretary, Department of
He had a short tenure of seven
months. He later served as Executive Director
for India at the World Bank and thereafter
at the IMF after which he served in the Ministry
of Finance as Secretary. He was chairperson
of the Committee on the Financial System,
1991 and the Committee of Banking Sector Reforms,
I G Patel
01-12-1977 to 15-09-1982
I G Patel an economist and administrator, joined
the Reserve Bank as Governor after serving as
Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and thereafter
at the UNDP.
His tenure witnessed the demonetisation
of high denomination notes as well as the
‘gold auctions’ conducted by the
Bank on behalf of Government of India. During
his tenure six private sector banks were nationalised,
targets for priority sector lending introduced,
and the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee
Corporations were merged, and a Departmental
reorganisation was undertaken in the Bank.
He played an active role in availing of the
IMF’s Extended Fund Facility in 1981
due to balance of payments difficulties. This
represented the largest arrangement in IMF’s
history at the time.
Manmohan Singh, academic and administrator,
had served as Secretary Finance as well as Member
Secretary of the Planning Commission prior to
his appointment as Governor,
During his tenure comprehensive
legal reforms were carried out related to
the banking sector and a new chapter introduced
in the Reserve Bank of India Act and the Urban
Banks Department was set up.
After his tenure in the Bank,
he served in various capacities before being
appointed Finance Minister. His tenure as
Finance Minister was notable for the fact
that he heralded in liberalisation and comprehensive
reforms in India.
15-01-1985 to 04-02-1985
A Ghosh was the Deputy
Governor of the Bank since 1982 when he was
appointed Governor for a brief period of 15
days till R N Malhotra could take over. He was
earlier the chairman of Allahabad Bank prior
to his appointment as the Deputy Governor of
the Bank. He was also a Director of the Industrial
Development Bank of India and the governing
body of the National Institute of Bank Management.
Malhotra, a member of the Indian Administrative
Service, served as Secretary, Finance and Executive
Director of the IMF. prior to his appointment
During his tenure efforts were
made to develop the money markets and new
instruments were introduced. The Discount
and Finance House of India, the National Housing
Bank were set up and the Indira Gandhi Institute
of Development Research inaugurated. In the
field of rural finance, the Service Area Approach
was adopted as an approach catalyse the flow
of credit through commercial banks.
22-12-1990 to 21-12-1992
a member of the Indian Administrative Service,
had served as Finance Secretary and adviser
to the Government of Karnataka prior to his
appointment as Governor.
The country faced difficulties
related to the external sector during his
tenure. His adroit management saw the country
tide over the balance of payments crisis.
His term also saw India adopt the IMF’s
stabilisation programme where the Rupee underwent
a devaluation and the launch of the programme
of economic reforms.
C Rangarajan was a professional economist. Prior
to his appointment as the Governor, he held
charge as Deputy Governor for over a decade.
He was also a member of the Planning Commission
and a member of the Tenth Finance Commission.
His tenure as Governor saw
unprecedented central bank activism to put
in place a comprehensive set of measures to
strengthen and improve the competitive efficiency
of the financial sector. New institutions
and instruments were introduced and changes
in exchange rate management culminated in
the establishment of a unified exchange rate.
In the field of monetary policy, his tenure
saw the historic memorandum signed between
the Bank and the Government whereby a cap
was put on the automatic finance by the Bank
to the Government in the form of ad hoc treasury
22-11-1997 to 06-09-2003
Bimal Jalan, served as Chief Economic Advisor
to Government of India, Banking Secretary, Finance
Secretary, Member Secretary of Planning Commission,
and Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council
to the Prime Minister prior to being appointed
as Governor. He had also represented India on
the Executive Boards of the IMF and the World
During his tenure, India weathered
the Asian Crisis and has seen the consolidation
of the gains of liberalisation and economic
reforms. The monetary policy process was demystified
and central bank communications marked a perceived
shift towards transparency.
This period has seen a slew
of measures to strengthen the banking sector,
establish new institutions and introduce new
instruments. The period has been characterised
by the strengthning of the balance of payments
and forex position,low inflation and soft
Yaga Venugopal Reddy the twenty-first Governor,
is a member of the Indian Administrative Service.
He has spent most of his career in the areas
of finance and planning. He served as Secretary
(Banking) in Ministry of Finance, Additional
Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Joint Secretary
in Ministry of Finance in Government of India,
Principal Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh
and had a a six year tenure as Deputy Governor
of the Reserve Bank of India. Prior to his appointment
as the Governor, Dr. Reddy was India's Executive
Director on the Board of the International Monetary
Dr. Reddy has made significant
policy contributions in the areas of financial
sector reforms; trade finance; monitoring
of balance of payments and exchange rate;
external commercial borrowings; centre-state
financial relations; regional planning; and
public enterprise reform and has been closely
associated with institution building. He has
several publications to his credit mainly
in areas relating to finance, planning and
Dr. D. Subbarao today took over as the 22nd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Dr. Subbarao has been appointed for a three-year term. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Subbarao was the Finance Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
Dr. Subbarao has earlier been Secretary to the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (2005-2007), lead economist in the World Bank (1999-2004), Finance Secretary to the Government of Andhra Pradesh (1993-98) and Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India (1988-1993).
Dr. Subbarao has wide experience in public finance. In the World Bank, he worked on issues of public finance in countries of Africa and East Asia. He managed a flagship study on decentralisation across major countries of East Asia including China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Cambodia. Dr. Subbarao was also involved in initiation of fiscal reforms at the state level. Dr. Subbarao has written extensively on issues in public finance, decentralisation and political economy of reforms.
Born on August 11, 1949, Dr. Subbarao holds a B.Sc (Hons) in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and M.Sc in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Dr. Subbarao also holds an MS degree in Economics from Ohio State University. He was a Humphrey fellow at MIT during 1982-83. He has a Ph.D. in Economics with thesis on fiscal reforms at the sub-national level. Dr. Subbarao was a topper in the All India Civil Service examination for entry into Indian Administrative Services and Indian Foreign Services in 1972. He was one of the first IITians to join the civil service.
Dr. Raghuram Rajan assumed charge as the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India on September 4, 2013. Prior to this, he was the Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Government of India and the Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School. Between 2003 and 2006, Dr. Rajan was the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund.
Dr. Rajan’s research interests are in banking, corporate finance, and economic development, especially the role finance plays in it. He has co-authored Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists with Luigi Zingales in 2003. He then wrote Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, for which he was awarded the Financial Times-Goldman Sachs prize for best business book in 2010.
Dr. Rajan is a member of the Group of Thirty. He was the President of the American Finance Association in 2011 and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In January 2003, the American Finance Association awarded Dr. Rajan the inaugural Fischer Black Prize for the best finance researcher under the age of 40. The other awards he has received include the global Indian of the year award from NASSCOM in 2011, the Infosys prize for the Economic Sciences in 2012, and the Center for Financial Studies-Deutsche Bank Prize for financial economics in 2013.
Born on February 3, 1963, Dr. Rajan is married to Radhika and has two children.