India’s Revenue Secretary, Dr Hasmukh Adhia, embodies the spirit of a new-age bureaucracy, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, independent India’s first Home Minister, famously dubbed the bureaucracy as the “Steel frame of India’. It was, and is, India’s multi-layered bureaucracy that keeps the wheels of the vast nation in motion.

But over time, the edges of the steel frame have rusted and parts of the core have become weak. Result: India’s governance structure has become lax over the last 70 years since Independence.

Enter another man from the state of Gujarat – Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who earned his spurs as an effective administrator during his 13-year stint as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Focused on delivery of services to the ordinary Indian, Modi encouraged and supported bureaucrats who were highly motivated, empowered and results driven – a clean break from the traditionally negative impression (and experiences) of the Indian bureaucracy – of a class of highly educated but corrupt, inefficient and uncaring mandarins who are a hindrance to progress.

We have featured one such “supercrat” bureaucrat – Revenue Secretary Dr Hasmukh Adhia – on our cover this time because I feel he is at the vanguard of the arrival of this new breed of honest, hardworking, diligent, and fiercely independent set of bureaucrats that the Modi government is spawning – and empowering. Adhia has spearheaded the tricky implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which in effect makes India’s 1.2 billion people members of one common market, at last. He also was at the helm of the department that rolled out India’s record breaking financial inclusion programme – the Jan Dhan Yojna.

As a politician and the Chief Minister of Gujarat, his job – and that of his ministerial colleagues – Modi had said, was to focus on policy and public engagements. It was the duty of the empowered bureaucrats to focus on delivery and implementation .

Now, Modi is bringing his tried and trusted success formula to New Delhi. The modern bureaucrat can no longer think like the proverbial bureaucrat. Instead, he or (increasingly and thankfully) she has to be the CEO of the department(s) under his or her charge.

India’s top tier bureacrats can no longer depend only on precedent to show them the way; they have to think out of the box to support Modi’s vision and resolve the many issues that governing a complex country like India routinely throws up.

The Indian government has recently announced that it will no longer follow the practice of awarding automatic time-served promotions to the positions of Secretaries and Principal Secretaries. Instead, aspirants will be subject to 360 degree reviews – and only those who have shown initiative and ability to deliver on difficult targets will be promoted to coveted posts.

At one stroke, the highest levels of the Indian bureaucracy will be rid of mere time servers and only the best will rise to the top.

Adhia is just one example of this new breed of mandarins. There are many others waiting in the wings to follow in his footsteps. And, the Indian Prime Minister and many of his colleagues in the Cabinet are encouraging them to do so.

There are other, far reaching proposals as well. The chief of Niti Aayog, the Indian government’s in-house think-tank, Arvind Panagariya has suggested that senior positions in the government be opened up to talented personnel from the private sector as well. If implemented, this will provide a further much-needed blood transfusion to the system and challenge the cosy, clubby world that senior Indian mandarins currently live in.

Doubtless, there will be many more suggestions and hurdles, like addressing the massive pay gap between the public and private sector.

I’m glad though that the journey has begun on a positive note, and with role models like Adhia and others, the emerging go-getter legion of Indian “supercrats” will stand the country in good stead for the future.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

The Year 2017 had been ear-marked as UK India Year of Culture by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his tour of Britain in November 2015. That announcement became a reality when Indian Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, represented the Government of India at a historic reception in Buckingham Palace in London recently.

While the year is set to be packed with an array of cultural events, both in India and the UK, the key message amid all the glitz and glamour is a familiar one: that India is crucial to the British economy, which is on the brink of breaking away from the European Union (EU).

India’s Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, just completed a packed tour of the UK during which Prime Minister Theresa May dropped in to a Downing Street meeting with his British counterpart, Chancellor Philip Hammond. ‘India Investment Journal’ caught up with the senior Indian Cabinet minister in London to explore his message for foreign investors, a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with post-Brexit Britain and the next phase of his dramatic reform agenda for the Indian economy.

Is post-Brexit UK a more, or less, attractive trading partner?

There is a considerable amount of interest in India, particularly after Brexit. Correspondingly my discussions in the past have also indicated that both investors and the government here [Britain] are looking for expanding opportunities of trade with India.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has carefully nursed the country’s economy back to sound health.

He is equally at home rubbing shoulders with the world’s leading industrialists and investors in Davos, London and Singapore and inviting them to invest in India as he is strategising the nitty-gritty of how to win elections in hinterland Indian states. And all this when he isn’t dispensing advice to some of the thorniest legal problems of the land.

Newly appointed Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal is a polymath in more senses than one

He has eclectic reading habits that range from the Rig Veda to philosophers like Karl Popper to physicists such as Werner Heisenberg to the history of the sub-continent – when he isn’t thinking deeply about “complex adaptive systems” or criticising Marxist-style planning or Indian policy making.

A financial services expert talks ‘India Investment Journal’ through India’s bold demonetisation move and why it is good news for investors.

On November 8 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made what will be long-remembered as one of the most audacious policy announcements in the history of India: 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, which made up 86 per cent of all outstanding legal currency, were ‘demonetised’ and ceased to be legal tender with immediate effect.

UK India Business Council experts analyse what GST will mean for businesses worldwide and the challenges it faces in this ‘India Investment Journal’ special report.The introduction of GST will be a game changer for India, its economy, and for Mr Modi himself.When surveyed last October, 50 per cent of UK India Business Council members cited GST as the single most important reform they wanted the Modi Government to enact. The mood, now, is naturally positive.

The GST is still several crucial steps away from reality but the Modi government is moving methodically for its rollout from April 1 next year.

On September 1, 2016 Odisha became the 16th state to ratify the Constitutional Amendment Bill that will pave the way for the passage of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill, thus, fulfilling the constitutional requirement of at least half of India’s 29 states approving the bill. The President has, since, signed the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill into law soon.

An analysis of how the promise of a good Monsoon offers the much-needed turning point for the Indian economy.



Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley, his team at North Block, farmers, analysts and investors will have one eye peeled firmly on the skies. Will rain gods be bountiful this year? After two successive years of drought, which have hampered the government’s concerted efforts to revive the economy, there is hope for a normal Monsoon – and a sharp economic recovery – this year.