RBI History

RBI History Project

The History Cell of the Department of Economic Policy and Analysis is entrusted with the Project of writing the institutional history the Reserve Bank of India. This aims at documenting, collating, compiling and presenting a comprehensive, authentic and objective study of the working of the Bank, the events, the policies, the institutional development of the organisation as well as the evolution of the central banking in India.

The History intends to serve as a work of reference and an important contribution to the literature on monetary, central banking and development history of India.

The institutional history of the central bank reflects, in some ways, the monetary history of the country, bringing down to concrete and human terms the policies, the considerations, the mistakes, the thought processes, the decision making and the broader canvas of political economy of the times.

The Bank has so far published two volumes. The first covered the period leading to the inception of the Bank in 1935 up to the establishment of the Indian Republic in 1950; this was written by SLM Simha under the overall guidance of the editorial committee headed by former governor C.D. Deshmukh and published in 1970. The second covers the period 1951 to 1967, i.e., just prior to the nationalisation of banks which marked a watershed in Indian banking; this was compiled by the History team, written by G. Balachandran and published in 1997.

The present effort is to document the period from 1968 to 1982, i.e., the run up to the nationalisation of banks, and the post nationalisation era, the "growth period" of banking which led to an exponential expansion in banking, bringing banking to the masses. The logic of the cut off date of 1982 is that this period represents the high point of statist logic in banking and finance. This was also the period when the seeds of change were being sowed and intellectual and industry thoughts were veering towards libralisation.

The source material for the project is essentially primary material from the Bank's archives, the various committees appointed by the Bank and the Government, the Bank's reports, Five Year Plans, Lok Sabha proceedings, newspaper reports, as well as secondary material etc. which reflect the public perception of the Bank's policies. The source material also consists of oral history recorded, especially of past executives and other functionaries of the Bank.

The History Cell looks forward to suggestions / comments / photographs / documents as well as material, anecdotal or otherwise, from members of the banking community, retired officials, past employees or for that matter any member of the public at the address rbihist@vsnl.net