INDIAN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
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Introduction to Financial System
The economic scene in the post independence period has seen a sea change; the end result being that the economy has made enormous progress in diverse fields. There has been a quantitative expansion as well as diversification of economic activities. The experiences of the
1980s have led to the conclusion that to obtain all the benefits of greater reliance on voluntary, market-based decision-making, India needs efficient financial systems.
The financial system is possibly the most important institutional and functional vehicle for economic transformation. Finance is a bridge between the present and the future and whether it be the mobilisation of savings or their efficient, effective and equitable allocation for investment, it is the success with which the financial system performs its functions that sets the pace for the achievement of broader national objectives.
Significance and Definition
The term financial system is a set of inter-related activities/services working together to achieve some predetermined purpose or goal. It includes different markets, the institutions, instruments, services and mechanisms which influence the generation of savings, investment capital formation and growth.
Van Horne defined the financial system as the purpose of financial markets to allocate savings efficiently in an economy to ultimate users either for investment in real assets or for consumption. Christy has opined that the objective of the financial system is to "supply funds to various sectors and activities of the economy in ways that promote the fullest possible utilization of resources without the destabilizing consequence of price level changes or unnecessary interference with individual desires."
The Concept of the Financial System
The process of savings, finance and investment involves financial institutions, markets, instruments and services. Above all, supervision control and regulation are equally significant. Thus, financial management is an integral part of the financial system. On the basis of the empirical evidence, Goldsmith said that "... a case for the hypothesis that the separation of the functions of savings and investment which is made possible by the introduction of financial instruments as well as enlargement of the range of financial assets which follows from the creation of financial institutions increase the efficiency of investments and raise the ratio of capital formation to national production and financial activities and through these two channels increase the rate of growth……"
Inter-relationship in the Financial System
A financial system provides services that are essential in a modern economy. The use of a stable, widely accepted medium of exchange reduces the costs of transactions. It facilitates trade and, therefore, specialization in production. Financial assets with attractive yield, liquidity and risk characteristics encourage saving in financial form. By evaluating alternative investments and monitoring the activities of borrowers, financial intermediaries increase the efficiency of resource use. Access to a variety of financial instruments enables an economic agent to pool, price and exchange risks in the markets. Trade, the efficient use of resources, saving and risk taking are the cornerstones of a growing economy. In fact, the country could make this feasible with the active support of the financial system. The financial system has been identified as the most catalyzing agent for growth of the economy, making it one of the key inputs of development
Indigenous Banking in India
At independence, India had an indigenous banking system with a centuries-old tradition. This system had developed the hundi, a financial instrument still in use that is similar to the commercial bill of Western Europe. Hundi were used to finance local trade as well as trade between port towns and inland centers of production. They were often discounted by banks, especially if they were endorsed by indigenous bankers.
Indigenous bankers combined banking with other activities, much as the goldsmiths, merchants, and shippers of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe had done. They usually belonged to certain castes or communities, such as the Multanis, Marwaris and Chettiars, and they differed in the extent to which they relied on their own resources, rather than deposits and other funds for their lending. Indigenous bankers often endorsed hundis issued by traders and sometimes provided personal guarantees for loans from commercial banks. Such bankers were collectively known as Shroffs, a term that probably originally referred to money changers but over time came to refer to the more sophisticated and influential indigenous bankers.