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R H Patil: A Tribute

Two tributes to R H Patil, a builder of institutions in the fi nancial sector who also had a critical perspective on fi nance in the economy.

COMMENTARY

R H Patil

A Tribute

S A Dave

Two tributes to R H Patil, a builder of institutions in the financial sector who also had a critical perspective on fi nance in the economy.

S A Dave (surendra.dave@gmail.com) is currently chairman of CMIE. He worked with R H Patil in the Reserve Bank of India between 1968 and 1972 and in the Industrial Development Bank of India between 1975 and 1988.

T
he 12th of April saw the end of a beautiful life. R H Patil, a true ajatashatru, passed away on that day. He endeared himself to everyone who came in touch with him. There were many things common between the two of us. We were both graduates of Bombay University. We did our PhD under the same great teacher, D T Lakdawala. We joined the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the same year, 1968. We were together in the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) for 13 years. Then our careers took different paths but we always remained in touch till his last. It was a memorable and professionally rewarding journey together for both of us.

A man of simple habits, R H Patil was always soft-spoken and greeted you with a pleasant smile. It was a smile that is etched in my mind. He never got upset nor gave any occasion for others to get upset with him. He would do his work quietly and often by himself when we were in the RBI and IDBI. He maintained his time schedules meticulously and there were hardly any delays. Under him the Management Services Division contributed handsomely to policy formulation and review of policies in the areas related to development banking. One felt fortunate in having a colleague like him.

Building the National Stock Exchange

R H Patil blossomed when he was put in charge of setting up the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and running it in its formative years. He was ably assisted by a brilliant team consisting of Ravi Narain, Chitra Ramkrishna and Raghavan Putran. It was a formidable and certainly most enviable group. Patil brought out the best of every one and delivered what I believe to be a miracle of an organisation, the NSE. It transformed the way we transact business on the stock exchange and radically altered the conduct of Dalal Street. It exceeded the wildest of our dreams.

His services were well appreciated and fortunately the RBI and the Government of India deployed his talent in building up other vital institutions such as the National Securities Clearing Corporation, Clearing Corporation of India and Divestment Commission.

may 19, 2012 vol xlvii no 20

EPW
Economic & Political Weekly

COMMENTARY

R H Patil was an avid reader and learner. He picked up a knowledge of technology on the job and so also a knowledge of various related disciplines. He was an active speaker at many professional forums and his views were well appreciated. He contributed to debates on the development of a corporate debt market, current account convertibility and corporate governance. He kept himself familiar with the latest developments in the field and generously shared his knowledge and views with friends. He was forthright with his views and e xpressed them unambiguously without fear of consequences. The normally humble and polite Patil could be bold and even aggressive when it came to e xpressing his views.

Despite his failing health in the last three years, he kept working at a fair pace. There was a special occasion in 2010 in memory of someone whom both of respected highly. The birth centenary of the late R S Bhatt was to be celebrated in March 2010. UTI was planning a special R S Bhatt Centenary Memorial Lecture. I requested R H Patil to deliver the lecture. Modest as he always was, Patil refused saying that he was not a fi t person to deliver such an important lecture. I had to tell him that he does not know how much he has contributed to the development of the Indian financial system and what a great transformation he has been instrumental in bring about in the Indian capital market. And that he should not underestimate his important contributions.

Perspective on Financial Sector

After much persuasion he agreed and what a lecture he delivered despite his failing health. The theme of his lecture was: “Financial Sector Reforms: Realities and Myths” (an edited version of this l ecture was published in EPW on 8 May 2010 under the same title). We fi nd Patil in that lecture as a true professional, b rilliant in analysis and clear and hardhitting on many confusions and contradictions that prevail in government. He was a pragmatist firmly rooted in Indian soil. He was for competition but not for unfettered competition with its vast array of complex and interrelated products. His conclusion in the lecture was:

Obsession for creating complete markets or a nexus between currencies, bonds and derivatives under current Indian conditions is like chasing a mirage. Markets alone are not going to be the solution for all our problems. All those who talk of totally free markets have shown no recognition of the requirements that we need for broad-based industrialisation and infrastructure development to bring above prosperity line vast masses of population and the fi nancial sector should clearly serve as an instrumentality to achieve those objectives.

That was R H Patil, a true Indian to the core undaunted by all westerly winds. A sweet flower has faded but has left all fragrance behind. We shall always cherish it, dear friend.

Economic & Political Weekly

EPW
may 19, 2012 vol xlvii no 20

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