BIMAL JALAN: More than a man who sets interest rates

News coverage made him an enigma and a person to emulate for the young

BIMAL JALAN: More than a man who sets interest rates

Those who grew up in the 1980’s might be familiar with Mr. Bimal Jalan’s name on the Indian currency note. He was the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Due to vast media coverage, Governors are taken into limelight. Never before had an interest rates cut made headlines as much as it does now, all thanks to the media. Therefore, the RBI meetings that decide on interest rate cuts have become the talking point. Banking celeb who didn’t need electronic media.

Raghuram Rajan was known as the star Governor eulogized across the world for his clear monetary policy stance and focus on inflation targeting. Read, Governor. The fact that Mr. Bimal Jalan was a well-known face even in the times when electronic media was not strong in the Indian business, news coverage made him an enigma and a person to emulate for the young. His reign at the RBI was from 1997-2003.

Not just RBI: IMF and World Bank

Mr. Bimal Jalan got two terms at the helm of the Reserve Bank of India. His term was preceded by that of Mr. C Rangarajan and he was succeeded by Mr. Y Venugopal Reddy. In terms of education his academic profile includes Cambridge and Oxford.  His services have also been sought by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank with Mr. Bimal Jalan serving as the Executive Director for their Governing Bodies.

Planning Commission & a Fully Convertible Rupee

This former Planning Commission member-secretary also played a role in building five-year plans that set the tone for policies that could give infrastructure a push. Full Rupee convertibility was also a much talked about subject but this has always remained more of a moot point than a serious discussion that could bring about a new policy. Sought after position for economists: Chief Economic Advisor

Mr. Jalan has had a successful stint being a part of the bureaucracy. He has served as bank and finance secretary apart from being the Chief Economic Advisor. He was eventually appointed as the Chairman of the Reserve Bank of India. For a decade, from 1998-2008, he was the President of the Governing body of NCAER. While listing out the events in the post-2007 financial crisis timeline, the information usually hovers around the steps taken by the Central Bank Governors to increase the money supply in the economy and try to spur the production and consumption.

The production and consumption levels along with inflation occupy the centre-stage. During his stint with the RBI, Mr. Jalan had an economy that had just been opened and attempts were being made to allow for FDI in the varied sectors. Nascent stage argument was also made for industries as is the case for solar panels, insurance, airlines and the defence sector. Even the retail sector FDI became a bone of contention for long till the bill was eventually passed but the states still have a say in whether the act is implemented in their state or not.

Opening the financial sector in times of protectionist policies

Mr. Bimal Jalan presided over the economy when protectionist policies were being implemented accompanied by the attempts of inviting MNCs into other sectors. Till the late 2000s, he was a Member of Parliament nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Government. He has authored books on the Indian Economy and the economic crises that plagued the economies then, including that of India.