From the Files
The Reserve Bank, as the central bank of the country,
often receives letters from the common man on matters of public policy and
interest. Some of these letters are focused and lend themselves to policy
decisions. Many, however, while imbued with reformist zeal, are emotional
outbursts merely lamenting the state of affairs and do not lend themselves
to any action. The authors of these, however, are persistent in their 'pro
bono publico' endeavours. Such letters are addressed to the central
bank, often to the Governor, as the central bank is in some ways involved
in charting the economic policies of the country.
The traditional systems in the Bank demand that all
letters received need to be 'inwarded', examined and 'marked off'. A
specific decision even on persistent 'crank' letters needs to be taken. A
note recorded on one such letter in the Department of External Investments
and Operations (DEIO) is reproduced below.
The Nation's Woes: RBI's role therein - Letter dated
26.12.1988 from Thiru XYZ
Placed below is a letter from Thiru XYX expressing
outrage and ire - at the scheme of things entire, - which he fain would
remould - closer to heart's desire. What, how and in what image is,
however, not specified. The RBI, being one of the agencies of prime
economic responsibility, he feels is partly the villian in this state of
While his outrage may be justifiable, the letter per
se is discursive and addled in terms of
the issues addressed,
the identification and analysis of causes, and
the courses of action prescribed.
The epistle wanders from exchange rate policy
supervision over chit funds (DFC) to the sale of gold under Shri Desai's
premiership (DGBA). In as much as no positive steps are prescribed to
redeem the state of affairs, the letter could be regarded as that by a
crank cribbing O Tempora, O Mores and lamenting Quousque Tandem.
He, however, demands to know why!
Unfortunately, we too know not why. In most general
terms the fons et origo mali could possibly be attributed to
avarice and greed,
deterioration in moral
lack of commitment and intellectual honesty,
the ascent of fissiparous tendencies over those of
humanity and fraternity.
As a central bank, we cannot give such answers and
exhort brother XYZ to work harder and spread moral awareness as his mite
towards the upliftment of the nation. We could
ignore his letter,
write to him to unscramble his thoughts and offer
specific comments (in duplicate if necessary to dissuade him) which we
shall be glad to consider. This should keep him busy for a while, help
clear his head and also give him a feeling of participation in
Nataional Construction. For us, it will break the monotony of routine
cases. (Draft letter placed below).
call for his income tax returns to ascertain his
antecedents and thus blunt his appetite for seeking answers.
While course of action at
(i) will be most prudent,
(ii) is recommended as a more spirited approach. If the same is approved,
the case could be sent to the PRO for necessary action.
Although the above note appears to have
been recorded in a lighter vein, the analysis is realistic. We should make
critics of policy understand larger issues and give concrete suggestions.
Let the suggested reply be issued from Press Relations Office.
P.S: Incidentally, prudent action as at (i) was
O Tempora! O Mores! : 'What times, what customs....',
Cicero's defence of an old general who had written a book against the
Qousque Tandem: 'How much longer'. The opening lines of
Cicero's last polemic against Catalina - 'How much longer, Catalina, will
you abuse our forbearance....'
fons et origo mali : 'the fount and origin of evil'