RBI JE - SPLessons

RBI Introduction

Chapter 1

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RBI Introduction

shape Introduction

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was established on April 1, 1935 in accordance with the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. The Central Office of the Reserve Bank was initially established in Calcutta but was permanently moved to Mumbai in 1937. The Central Office is where the Governor sits and where policies are formulated.

Though originally privately owned, since nationalisation in 1949, the Reserve Bank is fully owned by the Government of India.


shape Preamble

The Preamble of the Reserve Bank of India describes the basic functions of the Reserve Bank as:


shape History

1935-1951
The Reserve Bank of India was set up on April 1, 1935. It is one of the few central banks to document its institutional history. So far, it has brought out four volumes of its history. Volume 1, covering the period from 1935 to 1951, was published in 1970. It details the initiatives taken to put in place a central bank for India and covers the formative years of the Reserve Bank. It highlights the challenges faced by the Reserve Bank and the Government during World War II and the post-independence era.

1951-1967
Covering the period from 1951 to 1967 was published in 1998. This period heralded an era of planned economic development in India. This volume captures the initiatives taken to strengthen, modify and develop the economic and financial structure of the country. Apart from the Reserve Bank’s role as the monetary authority, it highlights the endeavour to establish an institutional infrastructure for agricultural and long-term industrial credit in India. This volume succinctly covers the external payment problems faced by the country and the rupee devaluation of 1966.

1967-1981
On March 18, 2006, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh released the third volume of the Reserve Bank’s history covering the period from 1967 to 1981. An important event of this period was nationalisation of fourteen banks in 1969, leading to spread of banking in country’s hinterland. The issues of safety and prudence in banking also gained prominence. Internationally, the abandonment of the Bretton Woods system in 1971 posed serious challenges for the developing countries including India. The volume also deals with the matters of co-ordination between the Reserve Bank and the Government.

1981-1997
Reserve Bank’s history was also released by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on August 17, 2013. It covers the eventful 16 years from 1981 to 1997 and is published in two parts, Part A and Part B.


shape Functions

Main Functions

Monetary Authority:


  • Formulates, implements and monitors the monetary policy.

  • Objective: maintaining price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth.


Regulator and supervisor of the financial system:


  • Prescribes broad parameters of banking operations within which the country’s banking and financial system functions.

  • Objective: maintain public confidence in the system, protect depositors’ interest and provide cost-effective banking services to the public.


Manager of Foreign Exchange:


  • Manages the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999.

  • Objective: to facilitate external trade and payment and promote orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.


Issuer of currency:


  • Issues and exchanges or destroys currency and coins not fit for circulation.

  • Objective: to give the public adequate quantity of supplies of currency notes and coins and in good quality.


Developmental role:


  • Performs a wide range of promotional functions to support national objectives.


Related Functions:


  • Banker to the Government: performs merchant banking function for the central and the state governments; also acts as their banker.

  • Banker to banks: maintains banking accounts of all scheduled banks.