Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas or Sir P. T. as he was popularly known was a very distinguished and eminent businessman of India who took a keen and active interest in the economic life of the country before and after independence. Sir P. T. had a privilege to be associated with several Committees and Commissions appointed by the Government of India.
Sir P.T. was indeed, a severe critic of the Government policies followed by the British Government but his views, though dissenting and differing from the Government's policies, were greatly appreciated and even valued by the then British Government as he was very constructive in his approach to the problems.
Sir P.T. was a firm believer in the logic and philosophy of free enterprise and believed in the free forces of market mechanism to bring about the rational allocation of scarce resources in the economy to promote growth and development. However, he was not dogmatic about the virtues of free enterprise or market mechanisms. He had accepted the inevitability of State intervention at a certain stage of development in the country, as a necessary policy instrument to promote growth keeping in view the imbalances in the nature of the under developed economy. This has been reflected in the famous book "Bombay Plan"published as early as in 1944. This remarkable document was drawn up by a group of distinguished persons belonging to the private sector and this document took a much broader view of the development process than one would expect from the persons having faith in the market economy. The document clearly stated that "no development of the kind we have proposed will be possible except on the basis of a central directing authority which enjoys sufficient popular support and possesses requisite powers and jurisdiction". This reflected the farsightedness of the authors of the Bombay Plan.
Sir P.T. was closely associated with the Indian Banking Industry having worked as a member on the Board of Directors of the then Imperial Bank of India and also on the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India since its inception in 1935.,/p>
Sir P.T. was a very powerful and influential member on the Board of the Reserve Bank of India. No decision in those days could be taken by the Reserve Bank of India without taking Sir P.T. into confidence. He was a prominent member of the Central Banking Enquiry Committee and Chairman of the Rural Banking Enquiry Committee.
In the formative years of the Reserve Bank of India Sir P.T. played an outstanding role and he was considered to be "both a driving force and a restraining influence" during the deliberations in the Board Room of the Reserve Bank of India more particularly in matters pertaining to the rights of the Reserve Bank of India and its autonomous functioning vis-a-vis the Government.
Sir P.T. was greatly interested in the problems of money, banking, finance and exchange rates. Sir P.T. was associated with the Indian Institute of Banking & Finance (Formerly Indian Institute of Bankers) as its founding member and served on the Council of the Institute till his death on 4th July 1961.
35th Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas Memorial Lecture on Trust as the Foundation of Finance by Dr. Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School Director, Lakshmi Mittal & Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University