Amitabh Kant is a man thinking big things about India’s future.
Working from his New Delhi office, tucked away on the third floor of a government-run luxury hotel, he heads what may be the country’s most ambitious ever infrastructure project: building 24 cities from scratch along a 1483-km railway line.
“The vision is to create a manufacturing and trading hub with world class infrastructure,” he told Reuters.
Such an exercise is fiendishly difficult in a country as famous for its bureaucratic red tape, corruption and bloody land acquisition battles as it is for its stellar economic performance over the past decade.
Even building a single highway can drag on for years. Seen from that perspective, 24 cities, complete with new airports, slick highways and gobs of new factories, seems a tall order.
But Kant, an Indian civil servant who joined the service more than thirty years ago, could be a major reason for the project succeeding. A keen golfer who dresses more like a corporate honcho than a bureaucrat, he has a reputation for getting things done and having access to people who matter.