The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which is responsible for controlling the monetary policy of the Indian Rupee was established on April 1, 1935. Initially, the RBI was started as a private shareholder bank that was later nationalised on January 1, 1949, following the Independence of India. The Governor of the RBI serves as the Chief Executive of India’s Central Bank and also as the ex-officio chairperson of the Central Board of Directors. Since the establishment of the bank in 1935 by the British, the Reserve Bank of India has been headed by 25 governors till now.
Given below is the list of all the RBI governors –
1. Sir Osborne A. Smith ( 1st April 1935 – 30th June 1937)
Sir Osborne Smith was a professional banker. He was the first Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Sir Osborne served the Bank of New South Wales for 20 years and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for over a decade. He had a very different point of view on policy issues like exchange rates and interest rates with that of the Government at that time. Sir Osborne did not sign any bank note during his tenure.
2. Sir James Braid Taylor ( 1st July 1937 – 17th February 1943)
Sir James Braid Taylor, the successor of Sir Osborne Smith served as the second governor of the Reserve Bank of India holding office until his death. Sir James was a member of the Indian Civil Service and served as a Deputy Controller in the Currency Department of the Government of India for more than 10 years. He also became the Controller of Currency, and additionally secretary in the Finance Department. Sir James was the second governor of the RBI but he was the first person whose signature appeared on the currency notes of India.
3. Sir Chintaman D. Deshmukh (11th August 1943 – 30th June 1949)
Sir Chintaman Dwarakanath Deshmukh was the first Indian to hold the position of the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. He joined the bank in 1939 and was appointed the governor in 1943. As Governor, Sir Deshmukh helped in establishing the Industrial Finance Corporation. He also focused on the promotion of rural credit in India. It was during his time that the Governing Body of NCAER, the National Council of Applied Economic Research, was founded in New Delhi in 1956 which was India’s first independent economic policy institute.
4. Sir Benegal Rama Rau (1st July 1949 – 14th January 1957)
Sir Benegal Rama Rau was also a member of the Indian Civil Services who served the longest term as the tenure of his service lasted for nearly 8 years. It was during his time that the commencement of the Planning Era took place. Innovative initiatives were also taken in the spheres of co-operative credit and industrial finance. The Imperial Bank of India was transformed into the State Bank of India in his tenure.
5. K.G. Ambegaonkar (14th January 1957 – 28th February 1957)
K. G. Ambegaonkar, the fifth Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, had a short period of 45 days only. Member of Indian Civil Services, Ambegaokar also served as the Financial Secretary and Deputy Governor of the RBI. He wass also a governor whose signature did not appear on the Indian Rupee note.
6. H.V.R. Iyenger (1st March 1957 – 28th February 1962)
Haravu Venkatanarasimh Varadaraja Iyengar is the sixth governor of the Reserve Bank of India under whose reign the Indian coinage system shifted from pies, paise, and anna to decimal coinage. Iyenger was also a civil services servant before becoming the Governor of the RBI.
7. P.C. Bhattacharya (1st March 1962 – 30th June 1967)
It was during the time of P.C. Bhattacharya, the seventh governor of the RBI, that the establishment of the Industrial Development Bank of India took place in 1964. The Agricultural Refinance Corporation and the Unit Trust of India were also established during this time in 1963 and 1964 respectively.
8. L.K. Jha (1st July 1967 – 3rd May 1970)
During the stewardship of L. K. Jha, the Indian Rupee notes appeared in the dominations of Rs. 2, 5,10 and 100 commemorating the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi. The notes bear his signature both in Hindi and English. Hindi, which was the official language of the Government of India, appeared on the currency notes for the first time ever at this time.
9. B.N. Adarkar (4th May 1970 – 15th June 1970)
Bhaskar Namdeo Adarkar was the ninth governor of the RBI who also worked at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Adakar played an active role in the establishment of the National Institute of Bank Management during his tenure.
10. S. Jagannathan (16th June 1970 – 19th August 1975)
Sarukkai Jagannathan before becoming the governor of the RBI was India’s executive at the World Bank. 20 and 50 rupee notes were introduced during his tenure which also bore his signature. The Credit Guarantee Corporation of India and State Level Bankers’ Committees were established during this time.
11. N. C. Sen Gupta (19th May 1975 – 19th August 1975)
N. C. Sen Gupta was appointed the governor of the RBI for a short period of 3 months. He acted as the interim governor until K R Puri took the office. Gupta’s signature appeared on the Indian note of 1000 rupees when he served as the governor.
12. K.R. Puri (20th August 1975 – 2nd May 1977)
Before serving as the Governor of the RBI K. R. Puri served as the Chairman and Managing Director of the Life Insurance Corporation of India. During Puri’s tenure, Regional Rural Banks were set up.
13. M. Narasimham (2nd May 1977 – 30th November 1977)
Maidavolu Narasimham was the first Reserve Bank cadre officer to be appointed as the governor. Narasimham joined the RBI as a research officer and later became the governor.
14. Dr. I.G. Patel (1st December 1977 – 15th September 1982)
Indraprasad Gordhanbhai Patel was the fourteenth governor of the RBI who also served as the director of the London School of Economics. He was the first person of the Indian origin to head a higher institute in the UK. The post of I.G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government was created in his honour at the London School of Economics. Six private sector banks were nationalised during his tenure.
15. Dr. Manmohan Singh (16th September 1982 – 14th January 1985)
Dr. Manmohan Singh was the first Sikh governor in office who later served as the Prime Minister of India. He is the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to be re-elected for a full five-year term as the Prime Minister. Comprehensive legal reforms were carried out related to banking sectors during the tenure of Singh as the governor. Also, Urban Banks Department was set up and a new chapter was introduced in the Reserve Bank of India Act
16. A. Ghosh (15th January 1985 – 4th February 1985)
Preceded by Manmohan Singh, Amitav Ghosh had the shortest term for 20 days as the governor.
17. R.N. Malhotra (4th February 1985 – 22nd December 1990)
R. N Malhotra served as the seventeenth governor of the RBI. New instruments were introduced during his tenure. Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, the National Housing Bank, and the Discount and Finance House of India were set up during this time.
18. S.Venkitaramanan (22nd December 1990 – 21st December 1992)
During the time of S.Venkitaramanan, the rupee underwent a devaluation. It was because of his skillful management that the country was able to manage the payment crisis.
19. Dr. C. Rangarajan (22nd December 1992 – 22nd November 1997)
Dr. C. Rangarajan is an Indian Economist who served as the nineteenth Governor of the RBI. He was a distinguished Member of Parliament who also served as the Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister.
20. Dr. Bimal Jalan (22nd November 1997 – 5th September 2003)
Dr. Bimal Jalan has served at several advisory and administrative positions in the Government of India. He also served as the Chief Economic Adviser in the 1980s. During the tenure of Jalan, India saw the consolidation of the gains of liberalisation and economic reforms.
21. Dr. Y.V. Reddy (6th September 2003 – 5th September 2008)
Reddy was made the twenty-first governor of the RBI; He held the position for 5 years. Reddy made significant contributions in the areas of financial sector reforms, trade, and finance. He was also closely associated with institution building during his tenure.
22. Dr. D. Subbarao (5th September 2008 – 4th September 2013)
Duvvuri Subbarao is an Indian Economist who also served as the Governor of the RBI. Dr. Subbarao was involved in the initiation of fiscal reforms at the state level. Subbarao is a P.hD in Economics and has penned several books.
23. Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan (4th September 2013 – 4th September 2016)
Raghuram Govind Rajan is an International Academician and Economist who served as the governor of the RBI for a term of three years. Rajan is a recipient of the Financial Times-Goldman Sachs prize, the global Indian of the year award from NASSCOM, the Infosys prize for the Economic Sciences, the Center for Financial Studies-Deutsche Bank Prize for financial economics and several other prizes. Rajan has also served as a founding member of the academic council of the Indian School of Business since 1998.
24. Dr. Urjit R. Patel (4th September 2016 – 10th December 2018)
Dr. Urjit Ravindra Patel is an Indian Economist who succeeded Raghuram Rajan as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. During his tenure, the government demonetised the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 rupees bank notes with the intention of curbing the widespread problem of corruption and black money. Patel resigned on December 10, 2018, from his post citing personal reasons. He is the first governor of the RBI after the 1990s who resigned from his post without completing his term. Patel has several publications under his name in the field of monetary policy, public finance, international trade, macroeconomics, and regulatory economics.
25. Shaktikanta Das (11th December 2018 – till date)
Das is a 1980 batch retired Indian Administrative Services Officer who is currently serving as the governor of the RBI. He is the 25th governor in office.