Point to note: Das is not the first governor to have been reappointed.
Sir Benegal Rama Rau, a member of the Indian Civil Service, was the longest serving governor of the central bank. His tenure lasted from July 1, 1949 to July 14, 1957.
He resigned in mid-January 1957 before his second extended term of office expired due to differences with the then finance minister.
The government also reappointed Dr Bimal Jalan as governor of the RBI, first for a period of 5 years commencing November 22, 1997 to November 21, 2002 and again for two years commencing from November 22, 2002 and ending November 21, 2004.
In order to bring stability and shore up the Indian economy against the impact of of the pandemic, the Reserve Bank under Das, cut key interest rates to record lows and infused liquidity into the banking system. But his job seems to have gotten tougher this year since both headline and core inflation have both remained above 6 per cent while growth estimates for 2021-22 have been revised downward to 9.5 per cent, from the earlier 10.5 per cent.
In 2020, he was named the Central Banker of the Year, Asia-Pacific 2020, by the Banker magazine, a unit of Financial Times (FT) for managing to stimulate growth and stabilise the economy.
According to the magazine, India’s banks were suffering from non-performing loans to issues around fraud, while repeated economic slumps saw the RBI cut interest rates five times during 2019.
“Faced with these challenges, Shaktikanta Das has taken steps to bring banking in India up to standard via a restrained approach to governance.. He has brought in measures to tighten the rules around shadow banking, refusing to bail out non-banking financial companies (NBFC). He is aiming instead for issues to be managed within the financial system, possible a risky move but one that will reduce dependence on the central bank,” the magazine had said.
“Lenders outside the traditional bank network have been placed under greater levels of scrutiny. Housing finance companies have been brought under the regulation of RBI and will adhere to the same rules framework of non-bank finance companies,” it added.
Das was also lauded for being instrumental in empowering smaller banks that have a presence in pockets of the country.
A 1980-batch retired IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, Das is currently serving as the 25th governor of the RBI and was first selected to head the central bank in December 2018 when he replaced Urjit Patel.
The last IAS officer to hold the office of RBI governor was D Subbarao, who was also an economist like his predecessor YV Reddy. But Shaktikanta Das holds an MA in History from St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi. He later pursued a financial management course from IIM Bangalore.
Das has in the past held key positions in the finance ministry. He has worked as secretary in the department of revenue (DOR) and the department of economic affairs (DEA).
Before his appointment at the RBI, he served as a member of the 15th finance commission and also as India’s G20 Sherpa.
During his career as an IAS officer, Das served in various capacities for Indian and Tamil Nadu governments, including as economic affairs secretary, revenue secretary, fertilizers secretary.
Das also served as India’s alternate governor in the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the New Development Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He has also represented India in international forums involving the International Monetary Fund, G20, Brics and Saarc.
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