Throwback: 4 RBI Governors who have previously quit other than Viral Acharya

The Reserve Bank of India’s Deputy Governor Viral Acharya has reportedly called it a day six months before the scheduled end of his term. He was the in-charge of the monetary policy department. Acharya, in his October 26 speech, criticised government officials for undermining RBI’s autonomy. The bank is headed by the governor Shaktikanta Das. There are four deputy governors, with Viral’s resignation, RBI has left with three governors – B.P. Kanungo, N. S. Vishwanathan, and Mahesh Kumar Jain. This is the second high-profile resignation in the past seven months at the RBI. In December 2018, Urjit Patel had resigned as RBI Governor over the differences with the government – nearly nine months before the end of his scheduled term.

Acharya was a New York University economics professor and was appointed as RBI deputy governor for three years. He took over the position in January 2017, a time when the central bank was facing criticism for repeated changes in the rules related to deposit and withdrawal of money, post-demonetisation. He has always been open about his views and has also often batted for the central bank’s independence.

As Viral Acharya resigns from his post, here’s a look at RBI officials who called it a day before the completion of their term.

Urijit Patel (September 4, 2016, to December 10, 2018)

In December 2018, 24th RBI Governor Urjit Patel resigned, nine months before his term was to end. Prior to becoming a governor, he was an RBI deputy governor, who looked after monetary policy, economic policy research, statistics and information management, deposit insurance, communication and Right to Information. Patel succeeded Raghuram Rajan as RBI governor. His terms were supposed to end on September 2019.

Sir Osborne Smith (November 1, 1935, to June 30, 1937)

Sir Osborne Smith was the first governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Before coming to India, he served two decades as a professional banker with the Bank of New South Wales and a decade with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. He was appointed as the governor in 1935, but due to his opinion on policy issues like the interest and exchange rates he resigned from the post. He, however, did not sign any bank notes during his tenure.

Sir Benegal Rama Rau (July 1, 1949, to January 14, 1957)

Sir Benegal Rama Rau was the fourth and the longest serving Governor and his tenure witnessed the commencement of the planning era and innovative initiatives in co-operative credit and industrial finance. He resigned from the post in 1957 following differences with the then Finance Minister TT Krishnamachari.

S Jagannathan (June 16, 1970, to May 19, 1975)

S Jagannathan was the tenth Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Before being appointed as the Governor, he served as India’s Executive Director at the World Bank. His achievements include the expansion of banking offices in pursuance of the objectives of the nationalisation of private banks. He gave up the position to take up the position of the Indian Executive Director at the IMF.


There were times when political changes had an impact on the tenures of RBI Governors. For instance, the 12th Governor KR Puri who was appointed during the Indira Gandhi government had to leave the position in May 1977 after the Janata Party came into power. However, the 17th Governor RN Malhotra got an extension after his term ended but had to leave the post after Chandra Shekhar came into power.



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