The Reserve Bank of India is India’s central banking institution. Established during the British Raj on April 1, 1935, the RBI controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. It was nationalized in the year 1949 and plays a vital role in the financial sector of the country. It is the Bank of Issue, Monetary Authority, regulator and supervisor of the financial system, Exchange Control, Issuer of Currency and Banker of Banks. In its history, the bank has been led by some prominent names who often took historic decisions that left a profound impact on the economic history of the country. Here is a look at the top 10 famous Governors of Reserve Bank of India.
10. Sir James Braid Taylor:
He was the second Governor of the RBI who held office from July 1, 1937 until his death on February 17, 1943. Having been one of those who worked closely for the preparation and piloting of the RBI Bill, he was the first governor whose signature appeared on the currency notes of the Indian rupee. He held office at a time when World War II was on. Taylor was involved in the decision to move from a silver currency to fiat money.
9. M. Narasimham:
He was the 13th Governor of RBI who served from May 2, 1977 to November 30, 1977. He was the first Reserve Bank cadre officer to be appointed as Governor. His work in that post earned him great repute resulting in him becoming an essential financial consultant of the country. He was appointed the chairperson of the Committee on the Financial System, 1991 and the Committee of Banking Sector Reforms, 1998, renders the same.
8. Lakshmi Kant Jha:
He was the eighth Governor of RBI and served from 1 July 1967 – 3 May 1970. It was during his term that 14 major commercial banks were nationalized. Gold controls, Deposit Insurance for Cooperative banks, Lead Bank Scheme and Agricultural Credit Board set up were some of his primary contributions while in office.
7. S. Jagannathan:
He was the Governor of RBI from June 16, 1970 to May 19, 1975. A member of the Indian Civil Service, it was during his term that Indian rupee notes of 20 and 50 denominations were introduced. During his tenure, the country was in the midst of unparalleled inflation and hence he is credited to have introduced active monetary policies to tackle that.
6. Dr. I G Patel:
He was the 14th governor of RBI and served from December 1, 1977 to September 15, 1982. He oversaw the demonetization of high denomination notes and the ‘gold auctions’ on behalf of Government of India. He is also attributed to have played a major role in availing of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility in 1981. Nationalization of six private sector banks, introduction of targets for priority sector lending and merger of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporations are all credited to this prolific Governor of RBI.
5. P.C. Bhattacharya:
Bhattacharya was the seventh Governor of the RBI. It was during his tenure between March 1, 1962 and June 30, 1967 that three of India’s biggest financial institutions took shape. Bhattacharya’s tenure saw the establishment of the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) in 1964, the Agricultural Refinance Corporation in 1963 and the Unit Trust of India (UTI) in 1964. The IDBI is currently the 10th largest development bank in the world in terms of reach. The size of the Indian rupee of 5, 10 and 100 denominations was also reduced to its present size.
4. Dr. Manmohan Singh:
The Prime Minister of India, who was also a renowned economist prior to assuming his current role, was also at a certain point the Governor of RBI. He served from September 16, 1982 to January 14, 1985. Legal reforms in the banking sector were one of the prime initiatives taken up by Dr. Singh. A new chapter was introduced in the Reserve Bank of India Act and the Urban Banks Department was set up during his term in office too.
3. Dr. Bimal Jalan:
He was the Governor of RBI from November 22, 1997 to September 6, 2003. It was during his term that the Indian Rupee note of 1000 denomination was introduced. While in office, Bimal Jalan was one of those who steered India through the Asian Crisis. Economic reforms as a result of liberalization, strengthening of the balance of payments and forex position, low inflation and soft interest rates were notable features of his tenure.
2. C.D. Deshmukh:
He was the third Governor of RBI and the first Indian to hold that position. An Indian Civil servant, Sir Chintaman Dwarakanath Deshmukh, served as the Governor of the RBI from August 11, 1943 to June 30, 1949. He held office during the time when India transitioned to an Independent state followed by partition and hence he was also involved in overseeing the division of the assets and liabilities between India and Pakistan. It was during his tenure that RBI transitioned from a shareholder’s institution to a State owned organization.
1. Y. Venugopal Reddy:
He was the Governor of RBI from September 6, 2003 to September 5, 2008. It was his imposition of tough lending standards that saved the entire Indian banking system from the sub-prime and liquidity crisis of 2008. Credited with the formulation of the solution to the Balance of Payments crisis, Reddy did a lot to strengthen the Indian banking system. He is regarded as one of the most distinguished financial advisors in the world today.