Dhruba Narayan Ghosh, who played a key role in formulating the government’s strategy in nationalisation of banks in India, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Calcutta.
Ghosh, whose more than six-decade long career straddled bureaucracy, academia, world of finance and corporate, was 95 and survived by his wife, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.
Born on August 6, 1928 in Cooch Behar, Ghosh, who authored numerous books, studied economics from the Presidency College (now Presidency University) in Calcutta.
He was said to have been handpicked by senior bureaucrat P.N. Haksar, who later became the principal secretary to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to lay the groundwork for the bank nationalisation in 1969. Ghosh was then in the banking division of the finance ministry.
His stint in academia included being in the faculty in the School of Economics & Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1975-76. He was a professor of development finance at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, in 1981.
He later became the 12th chairman of State Bank of India and headed the country’s largest public sector bank from May 13, 1985 until May 12, 1989. During his stint at the bank, he was instrumental in activating SBI’s dormant treasury division and also played a key role in transferring SBI’s merchant banking division into a separate company — SBI Capital Markets. He also got the bank rated by S&P Global Ratings, the international rating agency, during his tenure.
After retiring from SBI, Ghosh served on several private sector boards, including Philips, L&T, IIM Lucknow, Sundaram BNP Paribas Asset Management Company, Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Limited, Damodar Cement and Slag Limited, Birla Corporation Limited, HDFC and Tata Global Beverages, ICRA among others.
Among his private sector stints, his long tenure in Peerless was probably the most unique and challenging. Ghosh was brought in as the chairman of the company by former managing director S.K. Roy to navigate the regulatory hurdles and transform the financial powerhouse from Calcutta.
He was also the managing trustee of the Sameeksha Trust, which publishes Economic and Political Weekly.