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Nothing inspires Kant more than a mission impossible

By IndianMandarins- 18 Jan 2019


NITI Aayog member Amitabh Kant (IAS:1980:KL) is a tireless and mission-oriented man. In his previous job as the DIPP secretary, he was credited with improving the country's ranking in the World Bank's annual list of countries marked for their Ease of Doing Business (EODB). Though his successor Ramesh Abhishek (IAS:1982:BH) took his mission forward improving the EODB ranking further.


Even though the domain (EODB) belonged to the Department of Economic Affairs under FinMin, he never made his colleagues in that North Block office feel as if he was stepping on their toes. Using his undoubted persuasive skills, he coordinated efforts of the DIPP with all the ministries concerned to take the country's 2018 ranking to 77 in EODB from 134/189 in 2014.


But he is said to be still not happy with the improved ranking. He wants to see the country in the list of top 10 in EODB. For this, he continues to leverage his position in the Aayog to coordinate with different government agencies at the central and state levels.


Currently, he is focused on persuading his colleagues and the political leadership to bring the laws on contract and land in harmony with the requirement of the 21st century. For, unless these archaic laws are reformed, it may be extremely difficult to take the country in the top 10 list of EODB.


It seems that Kant is preparing the pitch for the government to go for key reforms in labor and contract laws on one hand and land laws on the other after the 2019 national election. 


Kant is said to be least disturbed about his new mission target. Officers like him keep working without bothering about success or failures. While dealing with the EODB as the DIPP secretary, he changed the work culture and motivated officers to do what must have looked impossible in late 2014.


Initially, the EODB activities had a single file in the DEA with 6-7 pieces of papers which included DEA’s letters to the World Bank, mostly asserting that it did not endorse the ranking for several lacunae and shortcomings in the Bank's parameters and surveys. In fact, it looked like the classic case of a patient fighting his doctor. Apparently, the DEA did not take the job seriously and every year it merely registered its objections with WB without doing anything substantial to improve India's ranking. 


But once Kant gave himself the mission to sort out the EODB ranking as the DIPP secretary even though the domain belonged to the DEA (and it still does), the government started filling the blanks and tying up the loose knots. Kant picked Additional Secretary Shailendra Singh (IAS:1988:MP) and Joint Secretary Ravinder (IAS:1999:UP), aerlier JS and Director respectively in DIPP, and deployed them on the job. Gradually, DIPP and DEA's consistent and vigorous brainstorming sessions with a number of ministries and departments from late 2014 set in motion the process that improved India's EODB ranking consistently in the four years through 2018.


He is seen repeating the process at a grander scale to achieve a mission impossible. 

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