Thursday, March 13, 2014

DMIC to Udyog Bhawan Corridor: What could be new DIPP secretary Amitabh Kant’s priorities?

AS NEW secretary of department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), Amitabh Kant has a chance to script an incredible story of industrial corridors in India. As DIPP secretary, Kant will not only be the ex-officio chairman of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) where he has been the CEO till now, but more significantly, he will also be…
anchoring three other fledgling projects: Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor with eastern dedicated freight corridor as its backbone, Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor and Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor.
Already, the DMIC, one of the most complex projects in independent India, has overcome the initial hurdles relating to its structuring and funding, and has reasonably addressed the issue of land acquisition. And with Kant at the helm in DIPP, the other corridor projects are likely to follow the same DMIC model. In January, the Union cabinet gave its nod for setting up Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC) and formation of the AKIC Development Corporation (AKICDC) with a total equity base of Rs 100 crore, with 49 percent stake of the Central Government and the balance equity to be taken by stakeholder state governments and HUDCO. The Central government will provide Rs 100 crore as project development fund to AKICDC.
To be fair, DIPP is not considered a highly important government department because of its limited mandate and over-dependence on finance ministry on many a matter. For a bureaucrat of Kant’s stature and calibre, getting DIPP is definitely not a wow moment. In fact, Kant was considered for the post of petroleum secretary, but the government finally chose former DIPP secretary Saurabh Chandra who is two batches senior to Kant in IAS.

Yet, it will all depend on Kant whether he can do a tourism in DIPP. Tourism, for example, is not a dream ministry for most bureaucrats as passionate as Kant. But as a joint secretary, Kant scripted a new high for the ministry. His campaigns such as Incredible India, God’s Own Country and Athithi Devo Bhavah have still remained the taglines for Indian tourism. In fact, other campaigns that the tourism ministry has scripted later, have failed to become blockbusters.
DIPP, however, deals with policies such as FDI, intellectual property rights, investment promotion, special category states etc., and hence, it will depend on Kant whether he will be able to leave his footprints. Former DIPP secretaries in recent time included Ajay Dua (1971 batch IAS), Ajay Shankar (1973 batch IAS) and RP Singh (1976 batch IAS, now NHAI chairman).
In a January 2012 article on Kant, BoI wrote: “This 1980 batch Kerala cadre IAS is more a CEO than a typical additional secretary in a sarkari department. He is a CEO because he sets targets, draws time-line, nurtures a ‘can do’ temperament, manages his men from a stylish, corner room office and occasionally plays golf to keep the tempo on.”
Finally, this is what ad guru Piyush Pandey commented on Kant’s book on brands: “Nothing builds brands better than passion. Amitabh Kant’s passion for both Brand India and Kerala is bubbling in every line and between the lines. The book proves that brands don’t just need a face, they also need a body, arms, legs and a very big heart.”
Will Kant (friends call him AK) show the same passion in DIPP too? It’s AK-2014. Just wait and watch.

1 comment:

  1. I had the privilege of making a presentation to this dynamic man. He is undoubtedly head and shoulders above his peers. Amazing vision, incisive understanding and razor sharp grip over matters most complex.