Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the central bank of the country. The Reserve Bank was established in 1935 by the Banking Regulation Act, 1934 with a capital of Rs. 5 cr. Initially the ownership of almost all the shares capital was in the hands of non-government share holders. So in order to prevent the centralisation of the shares in few hands, the RBI was nationalised on January 1, 1949.
1. Issue of Notes —The Reserve Bank has the monopoly for printing the currency notes in the country. It has the sole right to issue currency notes of various denominations except one rupee note (which is issued by the Ministry of Finance). The Reserve Bank has adopted the Minimum Reserve System for issuing/printing the currency notes. Since 1957, it maintains gold and foreign exchange reserves of Rs. 200 Cr. of which at least Rs. 115 cr. should be in gold and remaining in the foreign currencies.
2. Banker to the Government–The second important function of the Reserve Bank is to act as the Banker, Agent and Adviser to the Government of India and states. It performs all the banking functions of the State and Central Government and it also tenders useful advice to the government on matters related to economic and monetary policy. It also manages the public debt of the government.
3. Banker’s Bank:- The Reserve Bank performs the same functions for the other commercial banks as the other banks ordinarily perform for their customers. RBI lends money to all the commercial banks of the country.
4. Controller of the Credit:- The RBI undertakes the responsibility of controlling credit created by the commercial banks. RBI uses two methods to control the extra flow of money in the economy. These methods are quantitative and qualitative techniques to control and regulate the credit flow in the country. When RBI observes that the economy has sufficient money supply and it may cause inflationary situation in the country then it squeezes the money supply through its tight monetary policy and vice versa.
5. Custodian of Foreign Reserves:-For the purpose of keeping the foreign exchange rates stable, the Reserve Bank buys and sells the foreign currencies and also protects the country's foreign exchange funds. RBI sells the foreign currency in the foreign exchange market when its supply decreases in the economy and vice-versa. Currently India has Foreign Exchange Reserve of around US$ 360bn.
6. Other Functions:-The Reserve Bank performs a number of other developmental works. These works include the function of clearing house arranging credit for agriculture (which has been transferred to NABARD) collecting and publishing the economic data, buying and selling of Government securities (gilt edge, treasury bills etc)and trade bills, giving loans to the Government buying and selling of valuable commodities etc. It also acts as the representative of Government in International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) and represents the membership of India.
New department constituted in RBI:- On July 6, 2005 a new department, named financial market department in reserve bank of India was constituted for surveillance on financial markets.
This newly constituted dept. will separate the activities of debt management and monetary operations in future. This department will also perform the duties of developing and monitoring the instruments of the money market and also monitoring the government securities and foreign money markets.
So it can be concluded that as soon as the our country is growing the role of RBI is going to be very crucial in the upcoming years.