Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Public Records Keeping Framework Of Reserve Bank Of India

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the apex bank of India and it is sincerely managing the archives and public records related to its functioning from a long period of time. The Reserve Bank of India Archives (RBIA), Pune earlier known as Central Records and Documentation Centre (CRDC) was established on 24th August 1981 with the twin objective of serving as a repository of non-current permanent records and as Central Archives of the Reserve Bank of India for research purposes.[1]

Over the last 29 years, the RBI Archives has been engaged in pursuing these objectives, in particular in identifying, acquiring, preserving and making accessible the non-current records of enduring historical and legal value. This is a legacy for future generations.[2]

The RBIA is headed by Chief Archivist / General Manager. RBIA functions under the control of History Cell, Department of Economic Analysis and Policy (DEAP). The administrative support is provided by the College of Agricultural Banking, Pune.[3] The role of RBIA is to keep liaison with archival institutions and National Archives of India is the premier authority/institution for the same.[4] RBI has also formulated the Reserve Bank of India Historical Research Rules, 2001 in this regard.

Although the RBI has systems and procedures for records management in place but a need for a proper Archival Policy has always been felt. Recently, the Committee of the Central Board of RBI has also emphasised the need for clear-cut Archival Policy of the Bank. This policy would enumerate the sound records management practices followed in the Bank in respect of creation and preservation of records, preservation schedule, maintenance of records, weeding and appraisal of records and transfer of non-current permanent records to the RBIA. This policy would, no doubt, try to streamline the records management systems in the Bank.[5] For proper development and to meet the challenges of future the RBIA has chalked out Future Plan for 2006 – 2011.

In June 2010 the news regarding rolling out an Archival and Records Management Policy by RBI again surfaced. According to the media report, the Committee of the Central Board of Directors had approved it and it will be rolled out and implemented soon.[6]

RBI is the first among regulatory organisations to set up archives on professional lines. It has some 24,000 files, 12,000 registers, 110 photo albums and 6,000 publications with the oldest register dating back to 1824 and the oldest file to 1871. There are also 2,701 packets of cancelled securities pertaining to the period 1777-1894- dating back to the English East India Company days.[7]

The institution also fulfils yet another major requirement – as envisaged under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). The primary purpose RBIA is fulfilling is administrative rather than research-oriented. The preservation of the rare documents - that virtually recreate the story of the central bank - is done in a professional, scientific and qualitative manner. RBI follows the latest methods in preservation, storage and access of the documents. One of the projects that is on hand is the digitisation of all the records. Under the project, practically all the records, files and documents in the archives will be digitised and retrieval of the records will be quite easier.[8]

The “Model” set by RBI can be adopted by State Bank of India and its associated Banks, other Nationalised Banks, Commercial Banks, etc. Since there are great similarities in the RBI Model and Framework and the Public Records Act, 1993, (PRA 1993) it would be prudent to cover “Banking Sector” under the PRA, 1993 as well.

Besides, each Department of the Central Government and State Government can also adopt the PRA, 1993 model and ensure proper framework for the receipt, maintenance and preservation of Public Records.

End Notes

[1] Duvvuri Subbarao; “RBI Archives - Way Forward”, p 5. [Comments of Dr. Duvvuri Subbarao, Governor, Reserve Bank of India, while inaugurating the RBI Archives Museum, “Evolution of Reserve Bank of India- 1935-2010”, in Pune, June 1, 2010.]

[2] Ibid.

[3] See for details. (Accessed on 10-11-2010).

[4] See for more details on National Archives of India.

[5] Rakesh Mohan; “Reserve Bank of India Archives: Some Reflections and the Way Forward”, p 8. [Inaugural address of Dr. Rakesh Mohan, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India at the Silver Jubilee Inaugural Function of Reserve Bank of India Archives in Pune on September 29, 2006].

[6] (Accessed on 10-11-2010).

[7] N. Mohan; “Evolution Of RBI”, Banking Frontiers, March 2009, p 18.

[8] Ibid.

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