Researching Reserve Bank of India Archives in Pune and others on India 1991 economic liberalization

Reiko Kanazawa Discussion

Dear H-Net/H-Asia Community, 

My name is Reiko Kanazawa. Some of you may remember me from my query about Indian research visas back in 2016. Many thanks for all of your responses - I safely completed my PhD fieldwork in Delhi. 

I am now writing to ask if any members have experiences with the Reserve Bank of India Archives in Pune. I am researching India's lead-up to economic liberalization in July 1991, starting with the negotiations behind the balance of payments crisis in 1991. Towards this I am collecting documents from World Bank and IMF archives in Washington D.C., Bank of Japan and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) archives in Tokyo, and Asian Development Bank records in Manila. I am also drawing from published biographies and reflective accounts by some Indian officials involved, like V. Srinivas, Bimal Jalan, and Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The project examines the perspectives of all the three major stakeholders in the lead-up to the 1991 BOP crisis, and situates it in broader, and increasingly turbulent, global and internal contexts, ie: Gulf crisis raising oil prices, collapse of Soviet Union, end of Bretton Woods, assassination of PM Rajiv Gandhi, and Japan's experiences with aid throughout the 1980s and views on economic models bearing its own development experience. It questions whether all three parties (India, WB, Japan), with fresh memories of painful structural adjusment programmes throughout the 1980s, had a tacit agreement that some kind of coordination and collaboration in debt negotiation was necessary after the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement and with the end of the Cold War. Basically, was a new way of negotiating debt in a multipolar international economic order envisioned in the case of India's liberalization in 1991? This is especially important now as international development financing faces unprecedented challenges on global trade, like pandemics, straining financial resources for health and welfare of all countries.

Can H-Net members speak to experiences researching the RBI archive or can suggest another archive in India that would deal with this event? I am also planning to add an oral history interview component to supplement the India, World Bank/IMF, and Japan archival documents. Do you know of any historical actors I could interview? 

It would also be great to connect with scholars in the social sciences and humanities working on this or similar topics of debt negotiations. Please do email me at the following if you have any thoughts or suggestions:

Hope to hear from you. My thanks in advance to the H-Net community.

Kind regards,

Reiko (associate professor, Graduate School of International Development (GSID), Nagoya University)