Himalaya SJB Rana, the first Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), passed away on Sunday (February 5) morning. Rana, 95, was receiving treatment at Thapathali-based Norvic International Hospital as he was suffering from pneumonia and pulmonary problems. He was also going through the Parkinson’s disease for the past five years. He was cremated at the Pashupati Aryaghat on Sunday. In his demise, Nepal has lost a veteran banker and civil society leader of remarkable repute. Late King Mahendra had appointed Rana as the NRB’s Governor on April 26, 1956 following the opening of the central bank. During that time, Rana was 29 years old. Prior to taking up the leadership of NRB, he was entrusted with the responsibility of finance secretary in 1950 when he was just 23 years old. Born in Thapathali of Kathmandu in 1927, he had received a post-graduate degree from the University of Bombay in India.
After the establishment of democracy in the country in 1950, Rana had an opportunity to work together with the then finance minister Subarna Shumsher Rana to formulate the nation's first ever budget. Subarna was the country's first finance minister. The young and intelligent finance secretary had created different departments at the finance ministry. Thus, he had played a crucial role in the institutional development of the nation's economic and banking sectors. He was also instrumental in leading Nepal to the membership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). Apart from adding security features to Nepali currency notes, he had pegged Nepali currency with the Indian rupee. It was during his governorship that the country pegged Nepali currency with Indian notes at the rate of Rs. 1.60 for 1 Indian rupee. The same rate is still prevalent. He had also played a vital role in the promotion of Nepal's interest in its bilateral trade with India. Rana's competent and straightforward personality had also served at the United Nations for more than two decades. During his long engagement with the world body, he had carried out his responsibility as its resident representative in several countries.
In 1993, Rana founded Himalayan Bank, a leading commercial bank, in joint venture with Habib Bank of Pakistan. He was also a prominent leader dedicated to the country's civil society movement. He was very active as the founder of the General Election Observation Committee (GEOC). Even until his last part of his life, the nonagenarian used to lobby for holding elections in a free, fair, and impartial manner in order to consolidate democracy. It is worthwhile to recall his active participation in a campaign for the promotion of the use of Nepali currency within the country. There was a time when the Indian currency had been used commonly in the Terai region of Nepal.
Many sections of the Nepali society ranging from politicians, civil society members to those involved in the banking sector, have expressed their heartfelt condolences over the passing away of Rana. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda conveyed his deep sorrow over the demise this prominent personality. Indeed, his demise is an irreparable loss to the nation. Likewise, Governor of the NRB Maha Prasad Adhikari expressed his deep grief over the demise of Rana. He said that it is an irreparable loss to the nation. In this sad moment, we also join to express our heart-felt tributes to late Rana and extend our deep condolences to the bereaved family members.