The Reserve Bank of India has
instituted a lecture series in memory of late Shri L.K. Jha, who was Governor
of the Reserve Bank of India from July 1, 1967 to May 3, 1970.
Shri Lakshmi Kant Jha was a
many-sided personality who excelled in several walks of life. He was an eminent
economist, a distinguished administrator, an able diplomat and a sage counsellor.
As a person of great expertise and mature judgement, his advice was eagerly
sought in India and abroad. He served with distinction as Ambassador to the
United States and Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. He was a member of the Brandt
Commission and at the time of his death, a member of the Rajya Sabha. In recognition
of his invaluable services to the Reserve Bank and the nation and to perpetuate
his memory, the Reserve Bank of India has instituted a lecture series styled
as the L.K. Jha Memorial Lectures.
L.K. Jha played a crucial role
in giving shape to the country's economic policies for nearly four decades.
With his fine blend of theory and practice and rare pragmatism, L.K.Jha had
an instinctive feel for policies which could work in the Indian context. At
the same time, he conceptualised and articulated forward-looking policies for
dynamic growth of the Indian economy. He had a significant role in shaping the
Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956 which made the concept of mixed economy
operational and provided stimulus for the country's industrial development.
As Chairman of the Economic Administration Reforms Commission, he was responsible
for changing the direction of economic policy towards controlled deregulation
as a preliminary step to full liberalisation. Furthermore, as Chairman of the
Indirect Taxation Enquiry Committee, he made numerous valuable and enduring
contributions to the improvement of India's fiscal system. He effectively pleaded
the cause of India and other developing countries in many international fora
and was a highly respected member of the Brandt Commission which advocated a
new world economic order in which the developing countries would have a more
Popularly known as `LK', Lakshmi
Kant Jha was born in Darbhanga district of Bihar on November 22, 1913. He graduated
from Benaras Hindu University and Trinity College, Cambridge, UK. At Cambridge
he was a student of renowned economists like Pigou, Keynes and Robertson. He
joined the Indian Civil Service in 1936. After serving in Bihar in the districts
and in the Provincial Secretariat, he was seconded to the Government of India
in 1942. He worked successively as Deputy Secretary in the Supply Department,
Chief Controller of Imports and Exports, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of
Commerce and Industry and as Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industry. He was India's
Principal Representative at the meetings of the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT) and was its Chairman in 1957-58. He became Secretary, Department
of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance in 1960 and was appointed in
1964 to the newly created post of Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister
Lal Bahadur Shastri. Subsequently, he continued in the same capacity under Prime
Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi.
From July 1, 1967 to May 3,
1970, L.K.Jha held the office of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
As Governor of the RBI, he contributed towards strengthening the banking sector.
He attached more importance to the developmental role of the Reserve Bank in
enhancing growth prospects of the economy. He left the Reserve Bank of India
in May 1970 to take over as Ambassador of India to the United States. When the
Bangladesh War broke out in 1971, L.K.Jha effectively presented the Indian viewpoint.
In 1973, he was appointed Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, and in 1977, a member
of the Brandt Commission. As its Deputy Chairman, he played a major role in
giving shape to its two reports in 1979 and 1982. On return to Delhi in 1981,
he was appointed as Chairman of the Economic Administration Reforms Commission.
From 1986 till his death, he served as a member of the Rajya Sabha from his
native state of Bihar.
L.K.Jha was an ardent supporter
of liberalisation, a process which has gained momentum in recent years. He took
the view that although liberalisation may temporarily bring in its wake adverse
terms of trade, in the long run, it would lead to increase in exports and greater
competitiveness in the economy.
Of the several books written
by him, mention may be made of `Economic Development : Ends and Means', `Shortages
and High Prices : The Way Out', `Economic Strategy for the Eighties – Priorities
for the Seventh Plan', `The North-South Debate'. `Growth, Inflation and Other
Issues', `India's Economic Development: A Critique', and `Mr. Redtape', a satirical
comment on bureaucratic procedures. His writings cover a wide range of topics.
Many of them relate to credit, banking, monetary policy and international payments
which are of direct concern to a central banker. Besides, they also deal with
various aspects of economic development in the Indian context, viz., industrial
growth, efficiency in industry, planning process, economic strategies, public
sector autonomy, etc.
L.K.Jha's expertise in the
economic field was recognised not only nationally but also internationally.
He was the first Indian Chairman of GATT. He was also Chairman of the U.N. Group
of Eminent Persons on Transnational Corporations, member of Interim Coordinate
Committee of the International Commodity Agreement and a member and later Deputy
Chairman, of the Brandt Commission. He argued for a new economic order and laid
emphasis on strengthening the international institutions which in his view could
contribute immensely to the betterment of development countries.
L.K.Jha passed away in Pune
on January 16, 1988 and remained fully committed to his work to the very last.
So far, eight lectures have
been delivered as mentioned below :