Anecdotes and Trivia

Anecdote 4: Of Aspirants, Pensioners and Continuity

Jobs at the Reserve Bank of India were highly coveted. Just before the Bank opened it doors for business in April 1935, its Calcutta Office advertised fifty odd temporary job vacancies. The response was overwhelming. There were reportedly over ten thousand applications. The journal Indian Finance of March 1935 wrote this rather dramatic report:

“It was not a rain, but a downpour of applicants. They came from all corners of Calcutta - from most mofussil stations of Bengal. The building was chokeful of crowding graduates. The overflow in the streets was so heavy that the traffic was held up; and there was a traffic jam. The men who got into the building could not get out; the crowd in the street, who were all the time pressing towards the entrance of the building, were panting and perspiring; and some fainted in the crush, I understand. The officials who were to make the selection, were nonplussed. Never did any advertisement in Calcutta papers have such pulling power. In sheer desperation, the police were rung up; and their assistance requisitioned to clear up the building and the streets…”

Unfortunately for job aspirants, new recruitments were few. Much of the staff for the Bank’s establishment was transferred to it from the Imperial Bank and Government of India. The Government staff were the erstwhile employees of the Office of the Controller of the Currency from whom the Bank took over the function of Currency Management and issuance of Public Debt.

In the late 1980s, a special cell was set up in the Department of Expenditure and Budgetary Control (DEBC) to look into the accounts of the ‘Government Transferred Pensioners’. While doing so one of the records that came to light was that of Abdool Osman, a Duftary and resident of Sadinagar Villiage, Manikgunj, District of Dacca then in undivided India. Shri Abdool had joined Government of India service on 4th June, 1885 and retired from the Bank in March, 1939 at the age of 75 after a service span of 51 years and 29 days with seven extensions of service to his credit. His ‘Last Pay Certificate’ indicated a salary of Rs 27 per month which he had been drawing for over sixteen years without any annual increment. Apparently, Abdool Osman retired a contented man with a pension of Rs 8 to look forward to every month!

Duftary - literally ‘office keeper’- was a term applied to ‘inferior staff,’ as they were then known. Their job was to store, retrieve and maintained office files. While this job has been largely taken over by computers, the term is still in vogue and the post still exists.

Source: History of the Reserve Bank of India, 1935-51, Reserve Bank of India, Bombay, 1970 and the Bank’s house journal Without Reserve, October-December, 1990. Shri M. K. Joshi of DEBC brought the instance of Shri Osman to the notice of Without Reserve.



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