Amitabh Kant© Narendra Bisht

HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Amitabh Kant

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Vishwaveer Singh

Why he matters: The man behind the ‘Incredible India!’ campaign is what some would call a supercrat—one of the select few who form the country’s bureaucratic elite. He’s played a seminal role in positioning and structuring our brand image, including promoting ‘Make In India’ to the world. The former CEO of Niti Aayog, Kant is part of a small coterie of individuals who, along with the top brass, are hand-holding India to a better future. We take a look at how the current Sherpa of the G20 is reshaping the way the Indian government makes policies and re-brands India Inc. to the world.

Amitabh Kant’s rise as one of the IAS’ supernovas has been somewhat miraculous. His earlier appointment as the CEO of Niti Aayog (the apex policy-making think tank, with the prime minister as its chair) was symbolic of the government’s decision to utilise the most experienced people for key jobs, rather than follow the archaic, red-tapist practice of picking one’s cronies and loyalists. All the more evident with him sherpaing the G20 on their several visits to the country during India’s tenure as the head of the body, and the responsibility of formulating the strategy of re-branding India to the world, post his retirement from the IAS.

A graduate in economics from St. Stephen’s in New Delhi, Kant pursued a master’s in international relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, before enrolling into the IAS and starting his career as a sub-collector in Kerala’s Thalassery district. More recently, Kant morphed into a governance reformer, altering the way things are done to reflect the needs and requirements of the changing times.

As the secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Kant has spearheaded such campaigns as Incredible India!, Startup India, Make In India, and Kerala: God’s Own Country, among others. He has been instrumental in the setting up of the SDG-Index, a system that monitors the output and input of each state, something that led to each state developing policies of growth in a more competitive setting.

Another feather in Kant’s cap is the conceptualisation of the National Assets Monetisation Pipeline, a US$81 billion-dollar initiative that has seen the private sector enter and modernise industries that were earlier considered part of the government’s vast empire of nationalised corporations.

If one had to compartmentalise and define what Kant does, it would have to be by likening him to the brain of the central administrstion, creatively coming up with ideas of how to transform governance and grow the economy on multi-pronged levels. The author of Branding India: An Incredible Story, The Path Ahead: Transformative Ideas for India and Incredible India 2.0: Synergies for Growth and Governance turns 67 this year and lives in Delhi with his wife Ranjeeta.

To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!