The Bank began its operations by taking over from the Government the functions so
far being performed by the Controller of Currency and from the Imperial Bank of
India, the management of Government accounts and public debt. The existing currency
offices at Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Rangoon, Karachi, Lahore and Cawnpore (Kanpur)
became branches of the Issue Department. Offices of the Banking Department were
established in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Delhi and Rangoon.
Burma (Myanmar) seceded from the Indian Union in 1937 but the Reserve Bank continued
to act as the Central Bank for Burma till Japanese Occupation of Burma and later
upto April, 1947. After the partition of India, the Reserve Bank served as the central
bank of Pakistan upto June 1948 when the State Bank of Pakistan commenced operations.
The Bank, which was originally set up as a shareholder's bank, was nationalised
An interesting feature of the Reserve Bank of India was that at its very inception,
the Bank was seen as playing a special role in the context of development, especially
Agriculture. When India commenced its plan endeavours, the development role of the
Bank came into focus, especially in the sixties when the Reserve Bank, in many ways,
pioneered the concept and practise of using finance to catalyse development. The
Bank was also instrumental in institutional development and helped set up insitutions
like the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation of India, the Unit Trust
of India, the Industrial Development Bank of India, the National Bank of Agriculture
and Rural Development, the Discount and Finance House of India etc. to build the
financial infrastructure of the country.
With liberalisation, the Bank's focus has shifted back to core central banking functions
like Monetary Policy, Bank Supervision and Regulation, and Overseeing the Payments
System and onto developing the financial markets.