The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), established on April 1, 1935, plays a crucial role in ensuring monetary stability, managing currency, targeting inflation, regulating the banking system, and setting interest rates in India.

The RBI was created following the enactment of the Reserve Bank of India Act in March 1934, with its central and local boards becoming operational on January 1, 1935.

The first Governor of the RBI was Sir Osborne Arkell Smith, an Australian who was one of the managing governors of the Imperial Bank of India. Sir C.D. Deshmukh was the first Indian to hold the position of Governor.


Main Functions of RBI

Monetary Authority

The RBI formulates, implements, and monitors monetary policy to maintain price stability while fostering economic growth.
Example: Adjusting the repo rate to control inflation and stimulate economic activity.

Regulator and Supervisor of the Financial System

The RBI sets broad parameters for banking operations, ensuring the stability and soundness of the country’s financial system.
Example: Implementing Basel III norms to enhance banking resilience.

Manager of Foreign Exchange

The RBI manages the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) of 1999, facilitating external trade and payments while promoting a stable foreign exchange market.
Example: Intervening in the forex market to curb excessive volatility in the rupee.

Issuer of Currency

The RBI issues, exchanges, and destroys currency notes, and circulates coins minted by the Government of India.
Example: Issuing new series of banknotes with enhanced security features.

Developmental Role

The RBI undertakes various promotional functions to support national economic objectives.
Example: Launching initiatives to promote financial inclusion and literacy.

Regulator and Supervisor of Payment and Settlement Systems

The RBI introduces and upgrades safe, efficient payment systems to ensure public confidence in these systems.
Example: Launching the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for seamless digital transactions.

Related Functions

The RBI serves as a banker to the government, managing the accounts of central and state governments and scheduled banks.
Example: Acting as the government’s debt manager by issuing government securities.


During the economic reforms of 1991, the RBI played a pivotal role by transferring over 46 tonnes of gold to the Bank of England to secure foreign exchange and manage liquidity crises, leading to significant devaluation of the rupee.
In recent times, the RBI has facilitated the digital revolution in payments, exemplified by the successful implementation of UPI, which has transformed the banking and payments landscape in India.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 26, 2024