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G V Ramakrishna |
June 17, 2004
G V Ramakrishna, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, has held many important positions.
'GVR' joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1952. He served as chief secretary to the Andhra Pradesh government, and held key positions in the central secretariat, in the ministries of finance, industry, coal and petroleum. He also served at the Indian embassy in Washington, DC and was India's ambassador to the European Economic Community. He was also the first chairman of the Divestment Commission.
The 74-year-old Ramakrishna holds a degree of Master of Public Administration from Harvard.
Ramakrishna is now Chairman Emeritus of the Construction Industry Development Council in Chennai.
He recalls his interaction with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom he has known for three decades.
Dr Manmohan Singh's appointment as prime minister did not come as a surprise to me. When Mrs Sonia Gandhi did not accept the post, the best candidate available was Dr Singh.
Nobody has such integrity and global standing, nobody had his experience at every level. He had held top posts in economic affairs, he was governor of the Reserve Bank of India, he was in the Planning Commission, and he was also the finance minister. So, he was the best man to be prime minister of India.
I have known him for nearly 30 years, and I have the highest regard for him. It was in 1972 that I first met him. I was the joint secretary in the ministry of finance then and he had joined the department of economic affairs as economic advisor. We were colleagues in the ministry for some time till I went to Washington on an assignment.
Later I interacted with him when he was deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and I, the secretary for petroleum.
After that, I got to work with him when I was chairman of SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India); he was then the Union finance minister. He is a very fine person, and I have also noticed that he trusts people implicitly. He never interfered with my work. There was just one difference in perception between the finance ministry and SEBI in the matter concerning the inspection of Unit Trust of India. Otherwise, we had had a healthy relationship.
Successive financial crises in the UTI caused the loss of Rs 14,000 crore (Rs 140 billion) of unitholders' money. Although SEBI inspected every other mutual fund in the country, it was not allowed to inspect UTI on the argument that it was not a pure mutual fund, but a hybrid of a financial institution and a mutual fund.
It was only in late 1993 that Dr (N N) Vaghul was appointed to file a report on UTI. He recommended segregation of the two roles of UTI and to bring the mutual fund activities of UTI under SEBI regulations. In 1994, I left SEBI.
Dr Manmohan Singh and I were good friends. He treated me well and appreciated the changes I had made in SEBI. My dealings with him were only official.
I am his well-wisher, and he is my well-wisher.
As told to Shobha Warrier
The G V Ramakrishna Interview:
'Divestment money wasn't used for rural development'
'The real issue is not privatisation'