He was a member of the Indian Civil Service, entering on 20 October 1926. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in the 1941 New Year Honours. He served as the Chairman of State Bank of India, before his appointment as the Governor of the Reserve Bank.
During Iyengar's tenure the Indian coinage system shifted from the earlier pies, paise, and anna system to decimal coinage. He received the Padma Vibhushan, India`s second highest civilian honour from the Government of India in 1962. In 2002 on his birth centenary an illustrated book Snapshots of History— Through The Writings of H V R Iyengar consisting of articles written by Iyengar after his retirement in 1962, was compiled and edited by his daughter Indira and son-in-law Bipin Patel.
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