There are no fixed eligibility criteria for appointment of a person as the RBI governor. According to the RBI Act, appointment of governor is approved by the PMO on the recommendation of the finance minister. Shaktikanta Das is the 25th RBI governor and 14th career bureaucrat including 12 IAS/ICS officers to hold the position.
With the appointment of Shaktikanta Das as RBI governor, the position has gone back to an IAS officer after two economist incumbents. The last IAS officer to hold the office of RBI governor was D Subbarao, who was also an economist like his predecessor YV Reddy.
However, Shaktikanta Das holds degrees of graduation and post-graduation in History from Delhi University. He later pursued a financial management course from IIM Bangalore. His predecessors Urjit Patel and Raghuram Rajan were economists of repute.
Both Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel earned their reputation as top economists during their association with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Incidentally, Shaktikanta Das is the first RBI governor since 1990, when S Venkitaraman was appointed to the office.
Venkitaraman was an IAS officer and like Shaktikanta Das had served as a secretary in the finance ministry. Venkitaraman was the finance secretary. Shaktikanta Das was first the revenue secretary and then the economic affairs secretary when he oversaw demonetisation drive of the Narendra Modi government.
What about previous appointments as RBI governor?
Osborne Smith was the first RBI governor, appointed in 1935. He was a professional banker. His successors were all bureaucrats drawn mainly from ICS (Indian Civil Services) till BN Adarkar in 1970.
Adarkar was an economist but his stint was a stop-gap arrangement for 42 days. But his appointment was in sync with the growing realisation that the RBI governor had much more to do than just put signatures on various currency denominations.