|UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL
Lane" programme as part of Platinum Jubilee Celebrations The Programme in Bangalore was held on Saturday , 6th March, 2010. The programme
organised in Mumbai on 26th Feb was a great success. Please read the speeches of Smt Veena Roye & Shri PP Ramachandran
which is reproduced.
Speech of Smt Veena Roye,
on the occasion of “Down the Memory Lane” programme as
part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations
held in Bangalore.
An institution such as the RBI, can appear gigantic, monolithic, cold and formal to the outside world. In
the lives of some individuals, however, it has been like a safe harbour, a warm cocoon, a place where careers have been nurtured,
friendships formed, lessons learned and lives supported. Mine has been one such life with 40years of association-which will
end only when life itself ends.
I entered the RBI as a young, novice Grade 2 in 1965 .An officer, Mr.Mark Pai, had somehow been instrumental
in encouraging the “convent” girls to join the bank and that was, perhaps, a turning point in the bank’s
internal culture. We were the “liberal brigade”, about 20 of us, English speaking, convent educated, from the
Cantonment area– and quite naturally, looked upon as “oddities” in office. Infact the zoo monkeys perhaps
feel a bit like this. We actually had people peeping through windows at us as we worked the long hours. Slowly the barriers
broke, gently the inhibitions and the stiff traditionalism gave way to a friendly integration - even some office romances
and a couple of weddings.
I have traversed the RBI ladder slowly and painstakingly, learning every inch of the way as I travelled the
years from Grade 2 to my final signing off as Treasurer. I was the first lady Treasurer in RBI south of the Vindhyas and it
remains one of the high points of my life.
It has been a momentous journey, where some of the rungs of the ladder, came as pleasant surprises- the move
to Deputy Treasurer, in my case, was certainly one such moment, where 11 others were superceded. The dignity of work and the
bonds of lasting respect and friendships – these are my life’s takeaway from RBI apart,offcourse, from the material
sustenance of salary, pension, health care and all the other amenities with which the organization has parented and mentored
I am what I am largely due to RBI ,and my life can easily be considered as an ode of gratitude to this very
Thank you RBI, may you continue to touch many, many more lives as you touched the life of Veena Roye.
Down Memory Lane
When I joined the R B I on December 4, 1956 the Governor was Sir.Benegal Rama Rau- the second Indian Governor. Forty
years later when I retired on October 31, 1996 the Governor was Dr C.Rangarajan, who was the 19th Governor. Thus
I had worked under 17 Governors. An item I cherish is my rare collection of all the card calendars issued by R B I from 1956
to 1996.I have ensured that my collection includes the very latest 2009 –in all 54 calendars. 2010, I believe is yet to be released. Another prized possession is the first computerized pay-slip for
the month of March 1957. I enjoyed a basic salary of Rs 110/- and drew allowances of Rs 57/- totalling Rs. 167/-. With a deduction
of Rs 11/- towards P.F I had the princely take-home pay of Rs 156/-.
Before I begin, I want to share my joy with you that during the Platinum Jubilee Year I have published my reviews of
11 books by RBI Executives. The books reviewed are the latest works of Drs.Reddy, Rangarajan,
Rakesh Mohan, V.V.Bhatt, D.R.Khatkhate,
Sarvashri A.G.Chandavarkar, V.G.Pendharkar and a book of tribute to S.L.N.Simha.
To make a “ Round Dozen ” I have submitted my review of the latest R B I publication —“Perspectives
on Central Banking—Governors Speak”—which will appear next week. I got appreciative letters for my reviews
from Governor Subbarao, Drs,Reddy,Rangarajan, Rakesh Mohan and Narayana Murthy. The twelfth book “Governors Speak”
was sent to me by Governor Subbarao.
In this trip down memory lane I shall recount some historical events of these four decades, to some of which I am privy,
some I learnt from reliable seniors. My first set of anecdotes relate to Governors, a Deputy Governor—my second set
with the Economic Department and the last two to dear friends.
He was denied admission by the durwan. He was dressed in a flat white dhothi, white full shirt, and a black alpaca
coat (generally worn by lawyers).He had a luxuriant tuft in which flowers were tucked in. He was in simple chappals and carried
an old black box. No doubt the durwan barred entry to this man as he thought he was some salesman. When he told the durwan
that he had come from Madras for an interview for Officer’s post in RBI the durwan allowed him. This was the maiden
entry of R.Janakiraman to the majestic old main building. On the interview board were three Deputy Governors, Venkatappiah,
Sundaresan and Ramnath. All were in western attire---- one sporting even a bow tie. They were amused to see this candidate.
However, they were impressed when they learnt that he held a post-graduate degree in Geography and displayed a score of gold
medals he had amassed during his academic career. The Board asked him a number of questions which he answered with ease. Then
one of the D.G’s told him RBI has a dress code “You will have to remove your shikha or tuft and have a crop..
Will you do it?” “Certainly not” answered the candidate. “Why?” asked an aghast D.G. “Since
you have not offered me a firm job, I am apt to lose my favourite tuft and also not got the job”. They had a hearty
laugh and asked him to join the RBI then and there. R.J rose to the level of D.G. He recounted this story at his send off.
I had the privilege of bring the liason
officer of Governor Shri.R.N.Malhotra, when he came for the Central Board meeting in Trivandrum. He desired to visit
the ancestral house of his wife. I was assigned the task of taking him there. As Governor he was accorded status of a State
Governor and resided in the Raj Bhavan. I took him from there at 8 a.m. We were in an Ambassador car with a police jeep ahead
of us blaring a siren. The van behind us carried half a dozen policemen. We reached
Anna Malhotra’s house; the Governor spent some time talking (through me) to some old relatives. As we were about to
depart Governor’s brother-in-law barged in and asked me to request the Governor to get a job for his son. I duly transmitted the request. Malhotra frowned and asked me to tell him “ To go to hell”.. What I told him in
Malayalam was “there are several worlds for your son”. Governor appeared happy at my long sentence and we drove
back to Raj Bhavan.
This story relates to the visit, in February 1958, to R B I of the Managing Director of the I M F—the noted Swedish
banker Per Jacobsson. When he was leaving for Delhi, Governor H.V.R.Iengar and Shri V.G.Pendharkar went to the airport to
see him off. Jacobsson was tall and quite a hefty person. As he walked towards the plane, an Air-India Boeing 707, Governor
Iengar asked Pendharkar how much he thought Jacobsson weighed. Pendharkar said , about 175 pounds. Iengar said, NO, he was
much more than that. And just when Jacobsson entered the plane one of its tyres blew, as if to protest the heavy weight thrust
upon it without warning, Iengar said, “My God ! Look what has happened. Even the plane has sunk under his weight!”.
Now I turn to my life in the Economic Department.
The year is 1956—over half a century ago. I joined the R B I and was posted to the D R S—the Department of Research and Statistics—the ancestor of today’s D E A P—affectionately
called the Department of Rest and Sleep!. It comprised a number of Divisions and I got posted to the Administration Division
and in-charge of the Leave Desk. One morning a peon came running to me and said, “Narasimham Sab Bulatha Hai”.
And I went to his cabin, knocked and then entered. He was barely visible behind a huge desk full of papers, file boards and
a pile of books. I greeted him and introduced myself. He smiled a boyish smile and asked, “Mr Ramachandran, I wonder
whether you can tell me the casual leave to my credit.” Without batting an eye-lid I shot back, “You need not
wonder! If you give me a couple of minutes I shall enlighten you.” Narasimham laughed loudly and said, “Young
man, it is just a phrase!. That was my first lesson in English from the then Deputy Director, M.Narasimham who went on to
become RBI’s Secretary and Governor. He asked me to read the London Economist and the E P W—both of which I religiously
read even today.
I moved from Administration to the Division of Monetary Research headed by Shri. P.V.Ranganathan. He was always immaculately
attired in white trouser and shirt and colourful tie and coat. He was noted for his temper and tantrums. Stories about him
are legion but I shall restrict myself to one. He had joined the Bank as a Research Superintendent. Fresh from Madras, understandably
of Hindi and Marathi he was innocent. One evening as closing time approached he decided to sit for some time to clear some
urgent work and instructed his peon not to keep his papers in the cupboard.That worthy, not having followed his instruction
in English began keeping his papers in the cupboard. Ranganathan got wild and shouted at him. “You fool. I told you
not to keep my papers in!” No sooner was this sentence uttered than was heard the loud sound of a hand slapping a face.
The peon moved out of the hall, en route cut his face with a blade and complained to Administration that he was beaten by
Ranganathan and he was bleeding. After first aid, the Administrative Officer conducted an enquiry and learnt from whoever was present that they only heard the sound of
a slap but as to who slapped whom they had no idea. The peon got the benefit of doubt and Ranganathan was warned to be more
careful and the case was closed !.
was another Director who was famous for his bouts of anger and torrential tirade. He summoned his Deputy Director at 12. 30
p.m and instructed him to prepare a note on revising the Bank Rate. And he added “The note must be on my desk by 2 p.m”.
Quite a forbidding task. But the Deputy was up to any emergency, worked hard, followed
his boss’s instruction. The Director returned at 2 p.m and was happy to see a file board with a note. He called
his Deputy, asked him to sit down and began reading loudly the note. “Good. Very good .Well argued”, he said.
As he reached the last page he found another note of similar dimension lurking below. “What is this?” he bellowed.
The Deputy answered calmly, “Sir, you had not instructed me whether there should be a rise in Bank rate or a fall. The
second note argues for a fall of one per cent!”
One of the highly respected officials of the Economic Department was Dr T.K.Velayudham, son of a humble station master
in Andhra .TKV held the Chair in Monetary Economics established by RBI in the Bombay University. When he was my Deputy Director,
he took part in world –wide essay competition conducted by Banker’s Magazine, London. He bagged the first prize
.The next year also the coveted first prize was captured by him. When the magazine announced a competition for the third year
in succession they wrote a letter to him requesting him not to participate and leave the prize for others. He retired as Principal
We had an Economic Assistant who always wore suits and matching ties. His Officer was the emblem of simplicity—trouser
and half bush-shirt. Once our Director wanted something immediately about cement prices and had contacted Nani Palkhiwala.
The latter had instructed him to send his representatives. So the Officer and Assistant went to the Office of ACC. They were
taken to the chamber of Palkhiwala who gave details required. The Officer had brought a pad and pencil in which he was noting
some points. Palkhiwala noticed this and told the be-suited Assistant, “If you want anything more I shall give you happily.
Only send your stenographer. You need not waste your valuable time”. The duo were appropriately shocked, especially
To come down from high executive levels I had two close friends—Shri
Shirali and Shri.Gopalan.I knew of Shirali’s profound knowledge of Marxism and Marxist literature. Among people he admired
were S.A.Dange, Asok Mitra and Ranadive. Shirali was the subject of many stories in the Department we worked in-- most of them of a comic type—the recounting of which he himself would enjoy. He would get angry
with lightning speed and go at the throat of his opponent but with equal speed he would make up and the two-some would be
found with hands on each other’s shoulders. I had taken Shirali and got stitched for him anew pair of trousers from
Joe-Martyn, the best tailor in Fort. The next day, it was the anniversary of his father. Shirali had taken permission to come
late to Office. Though the ceremonies began early, it was taking along time and worried about
office, Shirali who was in his dhothi in traditional fashion put on the new trousers and ran to the office. He found that
he could not sit in the train and also movement had become tough! He cursed me for choosing Joe-Martyn. Reaching office somehow,
he was aghast to learn in the bathroom that he had not removed his dhothi before wearing his new trousers!.
R.S.Gopalan had a ready wit always. He bubbled with effervescence of vintage champagne and it was unthinkable not to laugh
when Gopalan was around. During his last days he fell inside a moving bus, cracked his hip bone and was compelled to wear
a belt always. He told me, “They say, people died with their boots on .In my case they will say, “Gopalan died
with his belt on”. In a few days he passed away. For long years he worked in Economic Department Library. There were
two assistants in that library, Shri.Shah and Shri.Singh .An associate from the library, who had resigned and gone abroad
came on a holiday and visited the library. The first question he asked was, “Are Shah and Singh still in the library?,”
Gopalan’s prompt response--“Mr. Sadhwani, Once upon a time Shah and Singh were features of the library. Now they
One sad concluding note is that except Shri.M.Narasimham and myself ---all
the characters in my anecdotes have departed. I have rich memories of my forty years service in RBI and love to recall
some of these happy moments. I can recount more delightful stories about RBI but
will reserve these for the RBI Centenary Celebrations.I request CGM Shri Vijaya Bhaskar to kindly make a note and invite me.