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 introduction of GST has passed of smoothly and the economy looks set to enter a higher growth trajectory once the initial teething troubles are sorted out.

At the stroke of the midnight hour on the intervening night of June 30 and July 1, while the world slept, much of India was wide awake, watching President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally launch the much awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST).



At the stroke of the midnight hour, India was transformed – from 29 discrete markets each with its own labyrinthine tax laws to one common market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programme to make India a major global manufacturing hub is likely to start showing results when the $68-billion of investments committed on the ground start coming on stream over the next couple of years.

Critics complain that the glass is half empty. The Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative has not led to any increase in the share of manufacturing in the country’s GDP and has not generated the huge number of jobs it was expected to.


But that, pardon the pun, is only half the picture. Experts point out that the manufacturing sector begins to contribute to the economy only with a lag of three-four years and point to the pipeline of about $68 billion of foreign investment, much of it in the manufacturing sector, to argue that a better way of describing the glass would be as half full.

A new compilation of essays on India-UK ties created a cross-country buzz over the last few weeks with its launch events in London and New Delhi.

“The UK’s relationship with India has been predominantly transactional, but it needs to become transformational. India and the UK need to understand where the true value comes from the partnership, and how they can turn this special relationship into a global relationship, one that changes the world for the better, tackling significant issues such as security and climate change together.”

The easy availability of electricity is a critical enabler of socio-economic growth in India, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

The basic building block for sustained economic growth is now in place. From a chronically electricity-deficit country, India has, in a space of three short years, turned the power sector around – so much so, that not only does the country now have surplus power, it is also exporting electricity to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed Piyush Goyal as Minister of State for Power, Coal, Mines & Renewable Energy (Independent Charge) in 2014, India was reeling under a massive deficit of 87 billion Kwhs or 9 per cent of demand. Result: the economy was suffering long, daily power cuts and the use of diesel generators for back-up that sapped productivity and ate into corporate profitability.

There was little light visible at the end of the tunnel as India’s state-owned power distribution companies, or discoms as they are called, were also bleeding. With cumulative debts of more than $50 billion, they were having to borrow money just to keep their operations running, thus, pushing them further into debt.

This turnaround has made it possible for the Indian government to announce that it would be in a position to fulfil its election promise of providing power for all by next year – a full year ahead of schedule.

This is an incredible achievement. The easy availability of electricity is a critical enabler of socio-economic growth. Being the basic building block of prosperity, power is also the key enabler of several flagship schemes announced by the Prime Minister. There can be no Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India, Skill India or even Swacch Bharat without the provision of adequate electricity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of an educated and empowered nation would also have come to nothing without adequate electricity. Power, as we all know, is sine qua non for children to study, do their homework and prepare for examinations.

The rejuvenation of the power sector will have an impact far beyond the remit of the ministry itself as will help change the lives of millions that currently live, or till recently lived, in darkness.

Power, arguably, is the most critical component of the Prime Minister’s promise of providing jobs for the 10-12 million youth who join the Indian workforce every year. Key to accomplishing this goal is the aim of increasing the share of manufacturing from 18 per cent of GDP at present to 25 per cent of GDP by 2025.

Among several constraints that are holding up the growth of the manufacturing sector was the lack of adequate power to run the machines in thousands of small and medium enterprises that form the backbone of any economy and are the main incubator of the millions of low skilled jobs that really bring prosperity to people at the bottom of the pyramid. I have purposely left out large and heavy industries because they can afford to set up captive power plants or make provisions for back-up power from diesel generators.

But Minister Goyal himself will admit that his job is only half done. Almost a quarter billion Indians still do not have access to electricity in their homes. Turning this situation around and providing power to fuel the expected manufacturing boom in the coming years will consume the current surplus and call for additional sources of electricity.

This is where the Prime Minister’s ambitious target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 will come into play. Achieving this target will not only to enable India to meet its emission goals under the Paris climate accord but also to meet the additional demand that improving economic growth and rising numbers of power consumers will generate.

There will be challenges, for sure. Financing large projects in India remains an issue as the banking sector, which is in the throes of a bad loan crisis, is unable to provide large volumes of credit. Then, the issue of balancing the infirm power that wind and solar plants generate – the potential this has to destabilise the grid – has not yet been resolved.

But neither of these problems is insurmountable and there is every reason to be optimistic that solutions will be found.

This edition of ‘India Investment Journal’ tracks Minister Goyal’s mega power challenge as he travels around the world to scout for investments, besides the usual cross-sector coverage.

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

A leading consultant analyses the factors that have made investing in India easier and a more rewarding experience as long as investors go in with a level of preparedness.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently altered its predicted growth rate for India slightly downward to 6.8 per cent, but this is still attractive compared to the sluggish rates of growth elsewhere in the world. Foreign investors’ confidence in India has also recently improved, making it the eighth most attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). Meanwhile India’s ranking in the World Bank’s league table for ‘ease of doing business’ is rising, albeit at 130 the improvement isn’t over yet!

These changes have been strongly influenced by the government’s attempts to make India a more attractive market by, for example, implementing demonetisation in November 2016, increasing online transactions and the planned introduction of a common nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July.

Make in India, one of the flagship initiatives launched under Prime Minister Modi, has led to a step change in FDI inflows, writes an investment facilitator.

The total FDI inflows into India stood at $60.1 billion in 2016-17 — the highest ever in a single year. Compared to 2013-14, this represents a 75 per cent increase. India’s achievement is even more stark when compared to falling global FDI flows as highlighted by UNCTAD. More importantly, Make in India has enabled long-term structural changes such as opening new sectors for FDI, increasing the ease of doing business, cutting the red tape and improving the physical infrastructure.

India can learn a lot from South Korea’s ascent from poverty in the 1950s to the ranks of the most technologically advanced societies especially in the fields of manufacturing, defence technology, electronics and skills development. And India can, in turn, help South Korea in areas like software and space technology that it excels in.

It is a warm and deepening economic and strategic partnership that could well become the template for India’s engagement with other geographically smaller but economically dynamic Asian Tigers.

South Korea has been in the news in India recently for three separate but loosely connected developments, all of them positive.

India’s Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, has described the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) Masala Bond debut on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) as a sign of India’s growing attraction among global investors.

The rupee-denominated National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Masala Bond issued with much fanfare by the Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, in London recently marks the largest ever five-year issuance and has been described as the “largest inaugural transaction in the Masala Bond market”.