June 2019

BOOK REVIEW

TARUNKUMAR G. SINGHAL
Chartered Accountant

“Advice & Dissent – My Life in Public Service” by Y.V. Reddy

 

Dr. Y.V. Reddy is well known as an economist and the 21st Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (2003-08). In 2010, the President awarded India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, to him. At present he is Honorary Professor, Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad. After completing his M.A. in Economics from Madras University, he obtained a Ph.D. from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Joining the Indian Administrative Service in 1964, he rose to the position of Secretary (Banking) in the Ministry of Finance in 1995. He moved to the Reserve Bank of India in 1996 as Deputy Governor and then to the International Monetary Fund in 2002 as Executive Director on the Board. He was also the Chairman of the 14th Finance Commission of India.

 

Looking back at his long career in public service, he says that he was firm and unafraid to speak his mind but avoided open discord. He writes about decision-making at several levels and gives an account of the debate and thinking behind some landmark events and some remarkable initiatives of his own whose benefits reached the man on the street.

 

Reading between the lines, one recognises controversies on key policy decisions which reverberate even now. The book provides a ringside view of the licence permit raj, drought, bonded labour, draconian forex controls, the balance of payments crisis, liberalisation, high finance and the emergence of India as a key player in the global economy.

 

As RBI Governor from 2003 to 2008, he presided over a period of high growth-low inflation, a stable rupee and ample foreign exchange reserves – a far cry from the 1991 crisis he lived through and describes in vivid detail, when the country had to mortgage its gold to meet its debt obligations. He is credited with saving the Indian banking system from the sub-prime and liquidity crises of 2008 that erupted shortly after his term at RBI ended. Dr Reddy provides insight into the post-crisis reflection undertaken by several global institutions on the international monetary system and the financial architectu

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