Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala


Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala is the Chairman of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) since December 18, 2013. He is a Post Graduate in Management from IIM Ahmedabad and holds a Ph.D. in Management. He has been awarded honorary doctorate in Science by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Institute of Fisheries Education (ICAR-CIFE), Mumbai.

Dr Bhanwala has consistently espoused the cause of enhancing farmers’ income through creation of agri & irrigation infrastructure. He introduced the project approach to funding of irrigation and dairy infrastructure through Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) and Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund

(DIDF) respectively. Over the last five years, under his stewardship, the assets of NABARD have gone up from Rs. 2,32,760 crore to Rs. 4,87,500 crore. NABARD added Small Finance Banks (SFBs) and NBFCs as new touchpoints through whom outreach to rural areas has further increased.

The World’s largest microfinance programme–‘Self Help Group-Bank Linkage Programme’ (SHG-BLP), under his guidance, has embarked on a digitisation path. ‘É-Shakti’ – the project for SHG digitisation has footprints in 100 districts of the country. Digitisation of SHG member accounts has resulted in increased transparency, enhanced bankers’ confidence for credit appraisal and facilitating hassle free credit & banking services thereby impacting positively the lives of millions of poor households. The accounts digitised are also Aadhaar linked which aids credit information companies like CIBIL to generate credit histories of SHG members.

Under his guidance, NABARD conceived, designed and conducted the NABARD – All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey (NAFIS) 2016-17, first of its kind survey in the country touching all aspects related to financial inclusion in a comprehensive manner. The survey covered livelihood (income, expenditure, etc.) as well as other important financial aspects of over 40,000 sample agriculture and non-agriculture rural households, covering 245 districts.

NABARD has also launched pilot projects for setting up agri business incubation centres to identify and support successful start-up enterprises in identified sectors.

Under his leadership, NABARD received accreditation as National Implementing Entity by the Adaptation Fund Board & Green Climate Fund (GCF) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Dr. Bhanwala guides many national level institutions as a member of their Board. The major ones include the Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Indian Institute of Management-Rohtak (IIM-Rohtak), Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC), National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), National Institute of Bank Management (NIBM). He is the Chairman of Bankers Institute of Rural Development (BIRD), NABARD Consultancy Services (NABCONS) and Board of Supervision of NABARD. He is also the Vice Chairman of Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) an association of 84 institutions in 24 countries of the Asia and Pacific Region that promotes cooperation and facilitates mutual exchange of information and expertise in the field of rural finance.

Prior to joining NABARD, he was Chairman cum Managing Director of India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL), a national level Government of India promoted Development Finance Institution (DFI) focused on infrastructure finance. He led the development of credit enhancement product for infrastructure finance, the first of its own kind in India.

During 2000 to 2005, Dr. Bhanwala was the MD of Delhi State Co-operative Bank and led the team that successfully turned around the bank.