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The Story of the State Bank of India Archives

Dr. Prof. Amiya Bagchi


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Date: 29th September, 2008

Venue: Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai

Timing: 6.00 pm


 About the Speaker

Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Professor of Economics and Director, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata has taught, researched and guided research in many institutions and universities, including Presidency College, Kolkata; University of Cambridge(UK), University of Bristol(UK), Cornell University (USA), Trent University (Canada), Roskilde University (Denmark), where he was Guest Professor of the Danish Research Academy, and Maison de Sciences de l'Homme, Paris, where he was Visiting Director of Studies in the Ecole des Haute Etudes en Sciences Sociale, and Curtin University of Technology, Australia, where he was the Haydn Williams Fellow for 2005.


Bagchi was formerly Reserve Bank of India Professor of Economics and Director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. He was, until 2005, a member of the State Planning Board, Government of West Bengal and was recently Chairman of a committee appointed by the Government of West Bengal to report on the finances of the government during the Tenth Five Year Plan period. He is a member of the Governing Body of the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi and of the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, New Delhi. On several occasions he served as external collaborator and consultant for the ILO, UNCTAD and UNDIESA. He was the official historian of the State Bank of India until 1997. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by Roskilde University, Denmark, and the University of Kalyani, India.


His books include Private Investment in India 1900-1939 (1972), The Political Economy of Underdevelopment (1982), a four-volume history of the State Bank of India (1987-97) starting with the Evolution of the State Bank of India, Parts I and II (1987), Public Intervention and Industrial Restructuring in China, India and the Republic of Korea (1987), Capital and Labour Re-defined: India and the Third World (Tulika, New Delhi and Anthem Press, London, 2002); The Developmental State in History and in the Twentieth Century (New Delhi, Regency Publications,2004). His latest book is Perilous Passage: Mankind and the Global Ascendancy of Capital, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2005; Indian edition, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006. In 2007, Tulika Books published Capture and Exclude: Developing Economies and the Poor in Global Finance, a book that was jointly edited by Bagchi and Gary Dymski.


Synopsis of the talk

In the year 1997, Asim Dasgupta, the Finance Minister of West Bengal formally laid the foundation stone of State Bank of India Archives. However, the process began almost 20 years ago, in the year 1975 when the speaker was approached by the Bank to write its history. The mammoth task of writing SBI's history started with the even gigantic one of reconstructing the basic archives needed to write it. Enormous amounts of records lying neglected and uncatalogued in the major and minor offices of the bank had to be gathered by the Speaker. To facilitate the process, the bank created four history cells in Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, and Madras, to trace the history through that of the headquarters of the three presidency banks and the Capital which houses the National Archives of India. Even more challenging, was the task of convincing senior management who questioned the utility and relevance of the project itself. In spite of this, the project was successfully completed and the history of the State Bank of India was published in two volumes in the year 1989.


Illustrating corporate apathy towards History and Archives in India, Dr. Amiya Bagchi shares his experience of setting up the SBI Archives and writing the history of the Bank.

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