India has large foreign-exchange reserves; holdings of cash, bank deposits, bonds, and other financial assets denominated in currencies other than India's national currency, the Indian rupee. The reserves are managed by the Reserve Bank of India for the Indian government and the main component is foreign currency assets.
Foreign-exchange reserves act as the first line of defense for India in case of economic slowdown, but acquisition of reserves has its own costs. Foreign exchange reserves facilitate external trade and payment and promote orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.
India's total foreign exchange (Forex) reserves stand at around US$633.558 Billion on 27 August 2021, the highest ever, with the Foreign Exchange Assets (FCA) component at around US$571.660 Billion, Gold Reserves at around US$37.441 Billion, SDRs (Special Drawing Rights with the IMF) of around US$19.407 Billion and around US$5.110 Billion Reserve Position in the IMF, as per Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) weekly statistical supplement published on 3 September 2021. The Economic survey of India 2014-15 said India could target foreign exchange reserves of US$750 Billion-US$1 Trillion.
India's foreign exchange reserves are mainly composed of US dollar in the forms of US government bonds and institutional bonds. with nearly 5.91% of forex reserves in gold. The FCAs also include investments in US Treasury bonds, bonds of other selected governments and deposits with foreign central and commercial banks. As of September 2021, India holds fourth largest foreign-exchange reserves in the world following Switzerland.
Reserve Bank of India Act and the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 set the legal provisions for governing the foreign exchange reserves. Reserve Bank of India accumulates foreign currency reserves by purchasing from authorized dealers in open market operations. Foreign exchange reserves of India act as a cushion against rupee volatility once global interest rates start rising.
- Foreign Currency Assets - Total FCA till March 2021 was $536.69 billion out of which $359.87 billion is invested in overseas securities, $153.39 billion is deposited with other central banks and $23.42 (4.36 percent of total FCA) billion is deposited with overseas commercial banks.
- Gold - As of March 2021 RBI held 695.31 metric tonnes of gold. 403.01 metric tonnes of which is in custody of Bank of England and Bank for International Settlements. 292.30 tonnes of gold is held domestically.
- Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)
- Reserve Tranche Position
- In 1960, forex reserve covered just 8.6 weeks of imports
- In 1980, India had foreign exchange reserves of over U$7 billion, more than double the level (U$2.55 billion) of what China had at that time.
- In 1990, forex reserve covered just 4.8 weeks of imports
- Foreign exchange reserves of India reached milestone of $100 billion mark only in 2004.
- India was forced to sell dollars to the extent of close to U$35 billion in the spot markets in Financial Year 2009 due to 22% depreciation in rupee (against the dollar) in the same fiscal year 2009.
- In 2009, India purchased 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund, worth US$6.7bn (€4.57bn, £4.10bn).
- In June 2020 India for the first time crossed the 500 Billion USD mark.
- In June 2021 India crossed the 600 Billion USD mark for the first time.
- The total forex reserves touched an all time high of 633.558 billion US$ on 27 August 2021.
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- Foreign-exchange reserves of China
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- Forex reserve history
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