The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come up with a business continuity plan to keep the machinery of the entire financial system running smoothly.
The plan includes splitting the central bank’s staff into smaller groups operating from separate locations in order to enforce social distancing, sources aware of the development told FE. The plan was kicked off on March 19 to ensure continuity of critical services of the RBI.
The prime piece in this is the information technology (IT) infrastructure operated by the RBI, which is necessary not just for the banking system to keep functioning but also for ensuring uninterrupted business and retail payments, as also government tax and other payments. “These systems, operated through multiple data centres, had to stay live notwithstanding any exogenous disruption.
The contours of the resultant Business Continuity Plan (BCP) plan is an exercise which was unique to not just the Reserve Bank but for any national IT infrastructure in India,” a source said. The RBI data centres run critical systems like structured financial messaging system (SFMS), real time gross settlement (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), e-Kuber, the RBI website, email, and another 35-odd applications. Around 600 personnel of third-party service providers are generally deployed at the central bank’s data centres for various services, besides 60 RBI officials.
The business continuity playbook lays down the process to ensure effective social distancing and isolation of RBI’s core personnel to run the data centres and other operations. “Under the minimum staffing plan, two batches were formed, with the second batch kept on ready standby to take over when required. A backup replacement pool was also prepared,” said a person aware of the plan. A team of 37 officials has been formed, comprising key personnel from important functions such as debt management, reserve management and monetary operations.
A hotel was also hired in the vicinity of the primary data centre was hired exclusively to accommodate around 150 personnel of RBI and its service providers. The support staff of the hotel were also isolated within the hotel on a continuous basis. All residents in the hotel were asked to be prepared for the separation, while being assured that one can leave the group in case of any family or other emergency.
Similar arrangements have been made at the other data centres in order to run the systems and offer the maximum number of services possible whenever the team is required to shift operations from their current location.