The youngest and the only Governor of the Reserve Bank of India to die in office, James Taylor spent almost his entire career in the cause of central banking in India for around two decades. In that sense, he was India’s first real central banker.
Like a flower, he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
A potpourri of personal thoughts and anecdotes on exchange control, the dollar, the rupee and SDR
During the over three decades in central banking, I never worked in foreign exchange or related functions. Without going into detail, this was part choice and part chance. Nevertheless, my batch’s 64-week induction training involved working for two months at all desks, including clerical ones, of the Exchange Control Department (ECD), as the department was then known. When ‘management’ replaced ‘regulation’ in the erstwhile Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, ECD eschewed ‘control’ and became the Foreign Exchange Department. Similarly, the Controller in charge of the Department’s Central Office in Mumbai became a Chief General Manager like any other. Continue reading “Rupee and SDR”
In the history of Indian currency and central banking, the Fowler Committee occupies an important position. But, its relevance went beyond the currency question. One suggestion that emanated from its report was Sir Everard Hambro’s central bank proposal. Hambro suggested establishing a state bank along the lines of the Bank of England and the Bank of France. Hambro’s central bank proposal is contained in a brief note attached to the Fowler Report. It provided the rationale for the proposal. The suggestion went back and forth between Calcutta and London before it was dropped after objections from different quarters. Continue reading “Sir Everard Hambro’s central bank proposal”
Five years after it implementedthe Herschell Committee recommendations in 1893, the Government of India made fresh proposals.The British Government, in turn, appointed the Fowler Committee in 1898 to examine these proposals.
In 1893, as endorsed by the Herschell Committee, and approved by the British Government, the Indian Government discontinued silver coinage. The intention was to eventually introduce a gold standard, the most important step in ensuring an exchange rate of 1s. 4d. This was not achieved for nearly five years. Therefore, the Government of India submitted fresh proposals to the Secretary of State for India to hasten the process. Some of these were drastic. These included the sale of bullion worth £ 6 million. There was also to be a sterling loan issued to make good the loss. Continue reading “History of Indian Currency: The Fowler Committee”
The Herschell Committee on Indian Currency, appointed in 1892, was the first of five Committees which examined India’s currency question. The other four were the Fowler, and Babington-Smith Committees, and the Chamberlain, and Hilton Young Commissions. Prior to this, the Mansfield Commission had in October 1866 submitted a brief report on implementation of the Paper Currency Act 1861. There have also been various minutes on the subject. These includes minutes of James Wilson, the first Finance Member, Sir William Mansfield (later Lord Sandhurst), George Dickson, Secretary to the Bank of Bengal, and others. We will cover there in different parts. In the first part of this series, we discuss the Herschell Committee, which submitted its report in 1893.Continue reading “History of Indian Currency: The Herschell Committee”
One hundred and sixty years after government paper currency was introduced in India in 1861, digital payments are leaping ahead, and Central Bank Digital Currency is round the corner. But, paper currency is here to stay. Notes in circulation will, in aggregate terms, soon cross Rs. 30 trillion and approach double the pre-demonetisation level. Continue reading “Reimagining Indian Currency”
The Reserve Bank of India released its new Report on Currency and Finance (RCF) in February this year. This comes nearly a decade after the previous issue. The RCF is a non-statutory report, unlike the Annual Report and Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India (RTP). The former is published under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. The RTP is published under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. The 2021 RCF is significant in three ways. It is the centenary of the first consolidated report of the Controller of the Currency, which became the RCF. For the first time, it is a discussion paper on a specific issue. It is also the first issue of RCF with a foreword signed by the Governor, Reserve Bank of India. The RCF has had a chequered history, which is worth recounting. Continue reading “The Report on Currency and Finance”
This is a post on my two brief meetings with KRK Menon, the first Finance Secretary. But, let me first start with a brief on the son. A person of Indian origin heading a global MNC no longer makes waves. Nevertheless, it is still surprising that the passing away of Bhaskar Menon in March this year, aged 86, went largely unnoticed in India, barring a few odd write-ups and mentions. Continue reading “KRK Menon, First Finance Secretary”