Of the 24 Reserve Bank of India governors till date, five were interim governors, holding office for as little as 20 days (Amitav Ghosh) to seven months (M Narasimham). The other three were KG Ambegaonkar (two months), BN Adarkar (42 days) and NC Sengupta (three months). It may be noted that the RBI Act has no provision for an acting governor or acting deputy governors, and every governor whether interim or otherwise has full powers. Osborne Smith, the first governor, for some strange reason did not sign any notes. Of the five interim governors, KG Ambegaonkar did not sign any notes as governor, although he had signed Re 1 notes as finance secretary. All the remaining interim governors took the opportunity to inscribe their signatures into currency history. BN Adarkar was lucky to sign Gandhi Centenary notes. NC Sengupta surprisingly signed only Rs 1,000 notes which were demonetised in 1978.
But the unique record was set by D Subbarao whose signature appeared on notes dated 2014 although he demitted office in September 2013. During B Rama Rau’s time, when Hindi was put on the forefront, a mistake was made by using the singular “rupaya” instead of the plural “rupaye”. The same mistake was made when Kashmiri and Urdu were introduced into the language panel. However the best currency story is that the term “RBI governor ka chitti” became the national code word for the “ghoos” that lays the golden eggs — that is, notes exchanged in under-the-table transactions! It still remains the most powerful recommendation letter in the country.
T R Ramaswami Mumbai
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