Paanch Kahani – five Ramayana stories of central banking…

Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago has taken Ramayana really seriously. Last year this blog pointed, how the bank compared central bank to Lord Hanuman (to which this blog did not agree).

This year, the chief of the bank Jwala Rambarran looks at five more characters of Ramayana and once again points to lessons for central banking:

This year, we decided to continue with our exploration of the Ramayana because it is my one intention that anyone attending our cultural programs should walk away with a greater appreciation and new found respect for whatever artform we are showcasing.

So tonight when you leave here, no matter where you come from, I hope you are inspired not to see the Ramayana as a deeply religious, complex Hindu holy book, but a story poetically written that has at its heart the universal triumph of good over evil.

Tonight’s performance is entitled Paanch Kahani. It is Hindi for five stories. We selected five stories from the Ramayana because Central Bank is celebrating its 50th anniversary this December, and each story represents a decade in the Bank’s life.

The five stories to be performed by Nrityanjali Theatre are not the obvious Divali stories with which many of us are familiar, but they are stories from the Ramayana with powerful messages for central banking.

The first story is about a lesser celebrated character in the Ramayana, but incidentally the entire reason the epic Ramayana was written. The first story is about Shravan Kumar. His life was one of devotion to his parents and this is what led to his death and triggered the chain of events that is the Ramayana. The second story is about King Dashrath whose karma and that of Shravan Kumar were inextricably linked. The third and fourth stories are about Ram’s brothers, Bharat and Lakshman. The final story is about Ram’s twin sons, Luv and Kush.

The comparison goes like this:

  • Shravana Kumar is known for his quality of being a dutiful son. C-bank is also kind of a dutiful national institution (really?).
  • King Dashratha is duty bound to grant wishes to his wife Kaikeyi. Similarly c-bank is duty bound to protect its citizens’ money. It was a really difficult decision for the King and many a times the central bank takes similar decisions not liked by all. Like someone said central bank decisions have no facebook likes..
  • Bharat refuses to rule Ayodhaya and just manages it in name of his brother Rama. So he drew his power from Rama. Likewise C-bank draws its power from the people. This is just not right. The power is drawn from the government which in turn is elected by people. And then central banks are way too powerful and play all kinds of games. There is hardly the sense of humility which Bharat had.
  • Laxman drew the famous Rekha (line in the sand) which kept Ravana away from Sita. Onlybwhen she crossed it, could Ravana kidnap Sita. Similarly C-bank draws Rekha which protects the citizens from the Ravans i.e. manipulating companies, banks etc.
  • Luv and Kush – They are the future of central banking like they were future of Ramayana. Post crisis, we have to look at new challenges and recruit our own Luv-Kush to manage the c-bank.

Interesting even if one may not agree with the characterisation. This way it seems central bank  have all the righteous qualities of each of these five men (why no women characters picked?) and none of the bad qualities like Laxman’s anger, Dashratha’s insecurity, etc.  This is a too one sided characterisation which tries to portray central banks  in all kinds of positive light.

The reality is different. Some might say they are actually Ravanas who seek to destroy the world using their powers in wrong ways. Others might say they are Kumbhakarnas who sleep and suddenly wake up to the risks in the world. Worse, waken up to the risks by their brother – the financial markets, who play the Ravana. So just like Ravana wakes up Kumbhakarna to save the Lanka empire, financial markets wake up the central banks to save their empire.

Just let Ramayana be Ramayana..these comparisons etc do not help much..

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