RBI and its independence

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Has demonetisation dented the autonomy of the RBI? An analysis.


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RBI and its independence


The Reserve Bank of India is the central bank of India, and is not staffed by elected representatives of people, but people who are selected through meritocracy – i.e. bureaucrats and technocrats. What are its main functions? (1) To efficiently conduct India’s Monetary Policy, (2) To set inflation targets, (3) To manage government debt. No central bank in the world can act on its own entirely – it has to ultimately be answerable to an elected government (in any democracy) or the Parliament itself. Otherwise it can be called the autocracy of the unelected! Any Central Bank (RBI included) always strives for a certain inflation target, and price stability. The RBI also tries to create a low or a medium-inflation situation and hence conducts its monetary policy accordingly.

Any government faces the pressure of elections regularly, and is likely to dump fiscal prudence in favour of policies that garner votes – hence doling out of subsidies, hence expected inflation in the system. That is why Central Banks are needed. India created the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in 2016. Before that, only the Governor of the RBI would (in consultation with his team) decide the entire monetary policy targets, including benchmark interest rates. The whole concept of “freedom”, “independence”, “autonomy”, “integrity” are loaded terms. They cannot be seen in isolation. If only the Governor had all the powers, would that not be concentration of powers? (a good counter-argument). The NITI Aayog has even suggested that the debt management function be separated from the RBI and given to an independent debt management agency. The criticism of demonetization 2016 being an attack on RBI’s autonomy has both sides to it. Is the government wrong in exercising its sovereign power? Would the RBI be wrong in resisting big changes that the nation needs? Are both wrong in some way? For detailed reading of the relevant laws (The RBI Act), go to Bodhi Resources page.

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आरबीआई और उसकी स्वतंत्रता


भारतीय रिजर्व बैंक भारत की केंद्रीय बैंक है, और इसके कर्मचारियों की नियुक्ति जनता द्वारा निर्वाचित प्रतिनिधियों द्वारा नहीं की जाती बल्कि प्रतिभा के आधार पर चयनित व्यक्तियों के माध्यम से की जाती है - अर्थात, नौकरशाहों और तकनीकज्ञों। इसके मुख्य कार्य क्या हैं? (1) भारत की मौद्रिक नीति को प्रभावशाली ढंग से आयोजित करना, (2) मुद्रास्फीति के लक्ष्यों को निर्धारित करना, (3) सरकारी ऋण का प्रबंधन करना। विश्व की कोई भी केंद्रीय बैंक पूर्णतः स्वतंत्र रूप से (मनमाने ढंग से) कार्य नहीं कर सकती - अंततः उसे एक चुनी गई सरकार (किसी भी लोकतंत्र में) के प्रति या स्वयं संसद के प्रति जवाबदेह होना पड़ता है। अन्यथा इसे अनिर्वाचितों की तानाशाही (निरंकुशता) कहा जा सकता है! कोई भी केंद्रीय बैंक (जिसमें आरबीआई भी शामिल है) हमेशा एक निश्चित मुद्रास्फीति लक्ष्य और मूल्य स्थिरता के लिए प्रयासरत रहती है। आरबीआई भी एक न्यून या मध्यम मुद्रास्फीति स्थिति का प्रयत्न करती है, और इसीलिए अपनी मौद्रिक नीति को तदनुसार आयोजित करती है।

किसी भी सरकार को नियमित रूप से चुनावों के दबाव का सामना करना पड़ता है, और संभव है कि वह मत दिलाने वाली नीतियों के पक्ष में राजकोषीय दूरदर्शिता से किनारा करे - अतः अनुवृत्तियों की खैरात बांटना, अतः व्यवस्था में संभावित मुद्रास्फीति। इसी कारण से केंद्रीय बैंकों की आवश्यकता होती है। भारत ने वर्ष 2016 में मौद्रिक नीति समिति (एमपीसी) का निर्माण किया। इससे पहले केवल आरबीआई गवर्नर ही (अपनी टीम के सदस्यों की सलाह से) समस्त मौद्रिक नीति लक्ष्यों का निर्णय करते थे, जिनमें तल-चिन्ह (बेंचमार्क) ब्याज दरें भी शामिल थीं। “स्वाधीनता”, “स्वतंत्रता”, “स्वायत्तता”, “सत्यनिष्ठा” की संपूर्ण अवधारणा भारित शब्द हैं। इन्हें पृथक्करण (अलगाव) में नहीं देखा जा सकता। यदि अकेले गवर्नर के पास ही समस्त शक्तियां होतीं तो क्या यह शक्तियों का संकेंद्रण नहीं होता? (एक अच्छा जवाबी तर्क है)। नीति आयोग ने तो यहाँ तक सुझाव दिया है कि ऋण प्रबंधन के कार्य को आरबीआई से अलग करके एक स्वतंत्र ऋण प्रबंधन अभिकरण को सौंप देना चाहिए। वर्ष 2016 के विमुद्रीकरण की आलोचना चूंकि आरबीआई की स्वायत्तता पर आक्रमण है, अतः इसके दोनों पक्ष हैं। क्या सरकार द्वारा अपनी संप्रभु शक्तियों का उपयोग गलत है? देश की आवश्यकताओं में बड़े परिवर्तनों का विरोध क्या आरबीआई की गलती है? क्या ये दोनों ही कुछ मायनों में गलत हैं? संबंधित कानूनों (आरबीआई अधिनियम) के विस्तृत पठन के लिए बोधि संसाधन पृष्ठ पर जाएँ।

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Bodhi Saar: RBI and its independence
RBI and its independence
Has demonetisation dented the autonomy of the RBI? An analysis.
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