'Few people know more about India's financial system than Dr Y.V. Reddy. And even fewer have the authority that he commands.' - Raghuram Rajan former RBI governor
'If America had a central bank chief like Y.V. Reddy the US economy would not have been in such a mess.' - Joseph Stiglitz economist and Columbia University professor
'One among the brightest intellectuals living in India today...the most eminent central banker of the last decade across the world.' - P. Chidambaram former Union finance minister
'How did India manage to beat the odds? [It was] largely the result of the sound management and foresight of one man: Yaga Venugopal Reddy.' - Arvind Panagariya vice-chairman of the Niti Aayog
'I have high regard for him for two reasons. First his complete integrity. There are very few civil servants like him who are not self-centered. He does not want to please any bureaucrat or minister. Second his devotion to work. Intellectually he is very open.' - Bimal Jalan former RBI governor
'Unlike Alan Greenspan who didn't believe it was his job to even point out bubbles much less try to deflate them Mr Reddy saw his job as making sure Indian banks did not get too caught up in the bubble mentality.' - Joe Nocera American journalist and author
'Dr Reddy is of a generation that believed public service was the highest calling.' - Karina Robinson editor The Banker magazine
A journalist once asked Y.V. Reddy 'Governor how independent is the RBI?'
'I am very independent' Reddy replied. 'The RBI has full autonomy. I have the permission of my finance minister to tell you that.'
Reddy may have put it lightly but it is a theme he deals with at length in Advice and Dissent. Spanning a long career in public service which began with his joining the IAS in 1964 he writes about decision making at several levels. In his dealings he was firm unafraid to speak his mind but avoided open discord.
In a book that appeals to the lay reader and the finance specialist alike Reddy gives an account of the debate and thinking behind some landmark events and some remarkable initiatives of his own whose benefits reached the man on the street. Reading between the lines one recognizes controversies on key policy decisions which reverberate even now.
This book provides a ringside view of the licence permit raj drought bonded labour draconian forex controls the balance of payments crisis liberalisation high finance and the emergence of India as a key player in the global economy. He also shares his experience of working closely with some of the architects of India's economic change: Manmohan Singh Bimal Jalan C. Rangarajan Yashwant Sinha Jaswant Singh and P. Chidambaram. He also worked closely with extraordinary leaders like N.T. Rama Rao as described in a memorable chapter.
As governor of the RBI from 2003 to 2008 he presided over a period of high growth low inflation a stable rupee and ample foreign exchange reserves -- a far cry from the 1991 crisis he lived through and describes in vivid detail when the country had to mortgage its gold to meet its debt obligations. He is credited with saving the Indian banking system from the sub-prime and liquidity crisis of 2008 that erupted shortly after his term at RBI ended.
Dr Reddy provides insight into post-crisis reflection undertaken by several global institutions on the international monetary system and financial architecture. In addition he describes the development of the Fourteenth Finance Commission report which he chaired and is considered a game changer.
Leavened with his irrepressible sense of humour Advice and Dissent is a warm engaging account of a life that moves easily from his career in the districts as a young IAS officer to the higher echelons of policy making in a trajectory that follows change in the country itself.