March 21, 2021 1:38:24 am
Former Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) Chairman G V Ramakrishna, credited with the cleaning up of the Indian capital market, passed away in Chennai on Saturday.
Ramakrishna, born in 1930, was the first Chairman of Sebi — and the second Chairman since its inception — after it got statutory powers in 1992. During his four-year stint till 1994, he cleaned up the Augean stables of the stock exchanges which were earlier controlled by stock brokers.
Ramakrishna, who joined the IAS cadre in 1952, was instrumental in banning the infamous ‘badla’ system of trading and bringing integrity and transparency in the capital market.
He headed the regulator at a time when the financial system was rocked by Harshad Mehta’s securities scam in 1992. The National Stock Exchange (NSE), currently India’s largest exchange, came up in 1992-93 during his tenure as the Sebi Chairman.
After the Harshad Mehta scam surfaced, Sebi — led by Ramakrishna — introduced several measures to safeguard the system. He faced stiff opposition from the broking and merchant banking communities while cleaning up the capital market.
Sebi became a powerful regulator after the enactment of the Sebi Act in 1992 during his tenure.
Ramakrishna started his career as a biochemist with the Rockefeller Foundation doing research in haematology in the Bowring Hospital in Bangalore, his home town. He opted for the civil service and joined the IAS in 1952. He did his quota of service in the state of Andhra Pradesh for nearly 13 years, ending up as Chief Secretary in 1983.
Early in his career, he went to Harvard University for his MPA (Master in Public Administration) and studied Economics under John Kenneth Galbraith, Ed Mason and other famed economists of the late ’50s. In his varied career of nearly 50 years, he worked for ten years with the Finance Ministry.
Ramakrishna, who was called ‘GVR’ by many, also worked in the Ministries of Industry, Steel, Coal and Petroleum. Ramakrishna also served as Adviser in the erstwhile Planning Commission in 1981 and as a Member in 1994.
He was also the first Chairman of the Disinvestment Commission during the tenure of the United Front government in 1996. In his diplomatic assignments, he was minister of economic affairs at the Embassy in Washington in 1972 and was later India’s Ambassador to the European Economic Community (European Union) in 1989.
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