Money & Banking

Lessons from Ramayana for central bankers

| Updated on: Nov 12, 2014
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Trinidad and Tobago Central Bank Governor invokes the epic for better governance

Not everyday does a central banker, especially one from the Caribbean islands, draw analogies from an Indian epic to illustrate the work done by his organisation.

Recently, the Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, Jwala Rambarran, moved away from open market operations and Basel-III norms, to draw on the Ramayana and the lessons it holds for bankers.

Addressing bankers at the Port of Spain, Rambarran narrated five stories from the epic to make his point.

Duty-bound

The first story was of Shravan Kumar, who epitomises a dutiful son devoted to his old, blind parents. The learning: Over the last 50 years, the T&T Central Bank has been at the centre of three financial crises, but as a dutiful institution it has borne this burden with fortitude and will strive to protect the financial system for the next 50 years.

Rambarran then narrated the second story of Dasarath who, bound by his word, reluctantly orders his eldest son, Rama, into exile for 14 years and unable to bear the pain of separation, dies. Like Dasarath, a central bank is duty bound to take difficult, but right, actions to ensure people’s savings, pensions, insurance policies and hard-earned money are not at risk.

The third example he cited was of Bharat ruling Ayodhya as Rama’s agent for 14 years. Like the devoted brother, the central bank uses its power, drawn from the people, for public good and ensuring financial stability.

The fourth was the story of Lakshman, who accompanied Rama to the forest. The Lakshman Rekha drawn by him to protect Sita should be seen as the financial regulation by a central bank. Only within the Lakshman Rekha do citizens have financial protection.

Skill development

The fifth, and final, story was about Luv and Kush. Trained by Sage Valmiki, the two were masters in archery and other disciplines.

The T&T Central Bank, he said, was developing skills in areas such as anti-money laundering, actuarial science and cyber security.

It was also picking skills in strategic communications, international relations and behavioural psychology. A decade ago, these skill-sets were nowhere on the radar of the Central Bank.

The new breed of central bankers, according to Rambarran, must ask the right questions and have the courage to look beyond the obvious and take on, like Rama's army, the too-big-to-fail entities.

Published on November 12, 2014

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