Ninth P K Gopalakrishnan Memorial Lecture, 20 Sept 2019

The Lecture started with Prof Sunil Mani, Director welcoming all to the Ninth PK Gopalakrishnan Memorial Lecture. He pointed out that Prof Gopalakrishnan was an eminent sociologist and economist who played an important role in Kerala especially during 1974-80. He was secretary to the Government of Kerala during the Chief Ministership of Sri Achutha Menon, and was also instrumental in setting up a number of institutions supporting technological change and public policymaking in Kerala which also included the CDS. He played a fundamental role in helping Prof KN Raj in setting up the CDS. Dr Gopalakrishnan had taken his masters in social science from the Institute of Social Studies at The Hague followed by a PhD in Economics from the University of Amsterdam. A good economic administrator at the state level he was instrumental in establishing the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. He also welcomed the family members of Dr PK Gopalakrishnan who had come for the lecture and thanked the family for generously funding the lecture.

Prof Mani introduced Prof T.T Ram Mohan as a distinguished Professor of Finance & Economics at IIM Ahmedabad who had graduated from IIT Bombay and IIM Calcutta and obtained his doctorate from Stern School of Business, New York University. His research interests are in the area of banking sector reforms, privatisation and corporate governance. He was Visiting Faculty at Stern School of Business, NYU in 2001. He has served on numerous committees of RBI and has been member of the Primary Markets Advisory Committee of SEBI. He has also been on the board of directors of several companies, including many in the financial sector: Brics Securities, IndusInd Bank, Rural Electrification Corporation, SBI Pension Fund and SBICaps Securities. An author of six books and numerous papers, his book titled, “Rethinc: What’s broke at today’s corporations and how to fix it,” was judged the co-winner of the Best Business Book of the Year award at the Tata Literary Festival in November, 2015.

Starting his lecture on ‘India’s banking crisis in perspective,’ Prof Ram Mohan pointed out that India may be said to have been in the midst of a banking crisis since 2011-12 although the full dimensions of the crisis came to be recognised only much later. It is not easy for an economy to come out of a banking crisis: typically, it takes eight to ten years to do so. The Indian banking crisis appears to be conforming to this pattern. Resolving India’s banking crisis is of the utmost importance. The longer the crisis stretches out, the greater will be the time taken by the economy to sustain a growth rate of eight per cent over a long period.

Prof Ram reiterated that in order to resolve the crisis, it is important to understand how it has arisen in the first place. A commonly held perception is that the crisis has to do with public sector domination of the banking sector. Government cannot run business, so the mess in the banking sector was inevitable. The answer, therefore, is to privatise as many public sector banks as possible or to move public sector ownership to a structure that resembles that of the private sector. We argue that these propositions are simplistic. Privatisation, we believe, is a lazy response to a complex problem. For the foreseeable future, wisdom lies in trying to improve performance within the framework of public ownership.

After the lecture, the floor was thrown open for an informal interactive session with students, research scholars and those from the audience.

YouTube link for complete lecture click here