Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), S Venkitaramanan, who managed the affairs at the central bank when the country faced two major crisis – balance of payment crisis that led to the pledging of gold and the securities scam triggered by Harshad Mehta – in the 1990-92 period passed away on Saturday after a brief illness.
Venkitaramanan, 92, is survived by his two daughters and their families.
He served as Finance Secretary in the Ministry of Finance for a period of four years from 1985 to 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of the country. Venkitaramanan, who had finished his civil service career by 1990, moved on to Karnataka as an adviser to the Governor during President’s rule there, before taking over as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India in December 1990 — an appointment that came on the back of Rajiv Gandhi’s support whose backing was critical for the survival of the then Chandra Shekhar government.
In the early part of 1991, up to April-May, when the balance of payment crisis deepened — marked by Indian banks even being denied overnight borrowings from abroad, NRIs withdrawing deposits and a downgrade by global credit rating agencies — at the RBI, Venkitaramanan began working on the phone with various central banks.
When these banks wanted collateral or security in the form of physical gold, which had to be transported to the UK, Venkitaramanan managed all of it, including getting the Indian customs not to insist on…