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    Panel discussion on-Local and Global:Policy Implementation and Formulation–Advice and Dissent
‘Be open to learning, disagree in a humble way, influence and be ready to be influenced’, says Dr. Y V Reddy at CCGC-hosted panel meet on Dec 19
December 20, 2017, Bengaluru: “Finance is a public utility, so make it accessible. Avoid the temptation to judge and try to assess. Influencing and communication should be two-way,” advised Dr. Y V Reddy, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and Chairman of the Fourteenth Finance Commission. He was speaking at the panel discussion on ‘Local and Global: Policy Implementation and Formulation – Advice and Dissent’, centred around the book ‘Advice and Dissent’, authored by Dr. Y V Reddy. The discussion was hosted by the Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship (CCGC) at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB).
Management is all about decision making in a complex and ever-changing leadership environment. In Government, civil servants are usually unseen and their role is away from public glare. Dr. Y V Reddy, former bureaucrat, has captured all this in his book titled, ‘Advice and Dissent’. Dr. Reddy has served as a member of the UN Commission of Experts on reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System. He was also conferred an Honorary Fellowship at LSE and is currently Honorary Professor, Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad.
He went on to say that in India it is important to work around political leadership regarding financial strategies or reforms. “Often in our country we do not have the freedom to say what we want – you should learn to disagree, but in a humble way. In India, history is made by accidents, rather than logical analysis. What I have come to believe in all these years is there is always time or scope to learn. During the first five years of my professional life I had eight transfers, in the last five years I have had one job, so that proves that I have learnt how to survive,” he quipped.
Moderating the session was Rohini Nilekani, journalist, writer and philanthropist. She is the Co-founder of Pratham Books and is currently the Chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation that grants funds for managing groundwater and sanitation projects. She is the author of ‘Uncommon Ground: Dialogues between Business and Social Leaders’. While introducing all the panellists, she described Dr. Reddy as “a statesman extraordinaire, who has spent his entire life in public service.” She went on to say, “When he talks about Economics, he talks as though human beings matter. He looks at decision making as though ethical foundations are critical for successful societies. When he talks about processes and regulations, it is as though institutions are the life blood to further leadership and the rule of law.”
The other panellists too spoke about the book and about the service Dr. Reddy has rendered for our institutions. They also spoke about how government policies are formulated and implemented in our country.
The first panellists was B. K. Bhattacharya, who was in academia till 1963 and then joined the I.A.S. He retired as Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, prior to which he held several senior bureaucratic assignments covering a spectrum of areas. Post retirement, he headed the Expert Committee on Pension Reforms and was the Team Leader of the U.S. AID-GoI project on State Sector Fiscal Reforms and also appraised the UNDP-GoI project on the Human Development Programme, in select Indian States. He was also Chairman of the Expenditure Reforms Commission.
B. K. Bhattacharya ascribed Dr. Reddy’s risk-appraisal ability to his rural, land-owning background, where “risk-taking, and assessment are in the DNA of the people”. He quoted from the book saying Dr. Reddy has come to be pragmatic and eclectic rather than being prone to taking ideological decisions. “He has pursued his interest in Economics. His extensive reading and capability to link different but relevant issues has made him a successful policy maker. He has immense decisions making and mentoring capabilities, and is dedicated to public welfare with loyalty to the Constitution of India. We all admire him as he has profound academic knowledge, and his heart is in the right place. He can diagnose problems before anyone else can sense. He is the first in India to have used the words overheating of the economy. He is a great general equilibrium economist. The service he has provided to the society and economy has earned him the second highest national award”.
The next speaker was Professor M S Sriram, who is currently Visiting Faculty at the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore. He was a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Development of Research in Banking Technology. Professor Sriram was also the Lalitha Gupte Chair Professor at ICICI Bank and Chairperson, Finance and Accounting area at IIM Ahmedabad, and faculty at Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). Professor Sriram was on the Vaidyanathan Committee on Cooperative Reforms. He is an author of books on credit to rural farmers.
Professor Sriram said that Dr. Reddy’s book reflects that he has a leaning towards the poor, and his experience from different postings made him view issues with a great level of equanimity. “The book works at three levels. First, it demystifies RBI for common citizens. Second, it understands the global financial market and its implication on local markets and the common man. Thirdly, the early part of the book is an inspiration for people who aspire to enter civil service. His belief in people’s institutions and the cooperative system comes out from the book. He coined the term financial inclusion, and the microfinance sector grew fastest during his regime.”
Recounting his various professional interactions with Dr. Reddy was Dr. V. Leeladhar, former Deputy Governor, RBI and Managing Director, Vijaya Bank. His banking experience spans Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank and Maharashtra Bank, all at senior levels. “Dr. Reddy has been devoted to banking regulation and development, and for urban cooperative banks to promote financial inclusion.”
The last speaker of the day’s discussion was Professor Charan Singh, who is currently Visiting Faculty in the Economics & Social Sciences area at IIMB. Dr. Singh was a Senior Economist at the IMF and Research Director at RBI from 1997 to 2009. His research areas include Monetary, Fiscal, Debt Management, International Reserves, Financial Markets, Banking and Infrastructure. Dr. Singh was a visiting scholar at Harvard and Stanford and earned his doctorate from the University of New South Wales, Australia. Currently, Dr. Singh serves on the Board of National Housing Bank and Nabard Financial Services and is a member of the Informal Advisory Group on Housing Sector Issues at the IMF.
Professor Charan Singh quoted excerpts from the book including issues surrounding GDP, foreign exchange reserves, differences between economists and politicians, and said that it is a “must read book for every student of public policy”. He added that India has been a pioneer in capital account. “But Dr. Reddy resisted global pressure regarding capital account convertibility”.
At the end of the panel discussion, Rohini Nilekani asked Dr. Reddy if he felt optimistic about what our country is in for. Dr. Reddy said that in payments and settlements system, India is world-class. “You need to build technical and other levels of competence and willingness to look at best practices. We manage diversity very well. India is a fast growing developing economy, although we need to put in a lot of effort to better that area. An encouraging thing is that surveys have shown that there is maximum optimism among youths in India regarding assessment of their future. So, we have strengths on which we can build further.”