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Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India
Professor, Centre for Public Policy, IIM, Bangalore

Date & Time

Tue, 11 Jun 2024


Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

At the start of his career as sub-collector of Parvathipuram sub-division in north-coastal Andhra Pradesh way back in 1974, Subbarao learnt – the hard way – that tribal development requires more than enthusiasm; it requires most of all an understanding of poverty.

Nearly forty years later, in 2013, as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India in the midst of a fierce exchange rate crisis, Subbarao learnt – once again the hard way – the harsh challenges of emerging economies in an unequal world.

Bookended by these assignments is the journey of a small-town boy from a modest background to the top echelons of India’s civil service and then on to the helm of the country’s central bank. Subbarao recounts that journey – his hopes and despair, his successes and setbacks, his mistakes and misdeeds, and the lessons he learnt along the way – with candour and honesty. The subtext of that story though is his constant soul searching about whether he has given back to society more than he received.

Just a Mercenary? is an earnest account of an extraordinary career that tries to inform and inspire young professionals trying to find their way up their career ladders – and find meaning in their journeys.

In this episode of BIC Talks, Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India – Duvvuri Subbarao is in conversation with Professor, Centre for Public Policy, IIM, Bangalore – M S Sriram. This is an excerpt from a conversation that took place in the BIC premises in June 2024.

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Duvvuri Subbarao

Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India

Duvvuri Subbarao served as governor of the Reserve Bank of India for five years (2008-13). Prior to that, he was finance secretary to the Government of India (2007-08) and secretary to the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council (2005-07). Topping the civil services examination in 1972, Subbarao joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). In a career spanning thirty-five years, he held various positions at the state level in the Government of Andhra Pradesh and at the centre in Government of India. He was a lead economist in the World Bank for over five years (1999-2004). After stepping down from the Reserve Bank of India in 2013, Subbarao was a Visiting Fellow, first at the National University of Singapore and later at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently visiting faculty at the Kautilya School of Public Policy in Hyderabad and at Yale University in the US.

M S Sriram

Professor, Centre for Public Policy, IIM, Bangalore

M S Sriram is currently Professor at the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore. Prior to this he was the ICICI Bank Lalita D Gupte Chair professor in Microfinance at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He is a graduate from Institute of Rural Management Anand and completed his doctoral studies at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. He is currently on the boards of AU Small Finance Bank, Indian Dairy Machinery Company, NDDB Dairy Services, National Institute of Bank Management, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies and a Trustee of RangaShankara (Bangalore) Dastkar Andhra and Pratham Books. He is the author of multiple books largely on financial inclusion and agricultural credit.