Amitabh Kant is presently India’s G20 Sherpa. The G20 or the Group of Twenty is a forum where policymakers of industrialized and developing economies meet to discuss key issues in the global economy. The G20 countries account for 85% of global GDP, 75% of world trade and about two-thirds of the world’s population.
Amitabh Kant is a governance reformer and a public policy change agent for India, having driven key reforms and initiatives during his tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) (2016-2022) and the Secretary of the Department for Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) (2014-2016), Government of India. He has been a key driver of flagship national initiatives such as Startup India, Make in India, Incredible India, Kerala: God’s Own Country and the Aspirational Districts Program. These initiatives have repositioned India and Kerala and have widely been recognized as transformational.
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) is India’s apex policy-making institution, with the Prime Minister as its Chairman. As CEO of NITI Aayog, Kant has driven a vast range of national-level developmental and policy initiatives which catalyzed India’s social and economic development and have brought about a paradigm shift in policy-making.
As Secretary, DIPP Kant has driven the Start-up India movement which has led to India emerging as the third-best ecosystem for startups globally, with over 70,000+ start ups and over 101+ Unicorns. His focus has been to facilitate Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) through predictability, consistency of policies and elimination of rules, regulations and procedures. This led to India jumping 79 positions in Ease of Doing Business Indicators. He also initiated competition and ranking amongst Indian states based on their EoDB indicators. The competition and ranking has led to a transformational impact on States.
Tenure as CEO, NITI Aayog
Kant has driven theAspirational Districts Program (ADP), the largest outcome-based governance project in the world which improved the socio-economic indicators of the 112 most backward districts of India. Today, as per a number of independent assessments, including those by UNDP and the Institute of Competitiveness, several Aspirational Districts of India have emerged as the best performing districts in their respective states.
A strong proponent of positioning India as a global hub for manufacturing and exports, he has been the key driver of Make in India and the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes which have given an impetus to manufacturing, innovation and exports.
At NITI Aayog, he established India’s National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, which is responsible for driving the uptake of clean mobility in the country. The mission evolved policies and interventions which supported millions of citizens and hundreds of government agencies across the country to make the switch to electric mobility. Under his leadership, the mission supported the 26 states of India in evolving their EV policies and also successfully facilitated the launch of a tender for the procurement and operation of 5,500 E-buses, one of the largest tenders in the world.
Under his leadership, NITI undertook extensive work on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the country. He supervised the development of the country’s first regional district SDG monitoring system in the form of the “North Eastern Region District SDG Index and Dashboard” which covers all North Eastern States and their 120 districts. He took the SDG localization model further to the level of urban areas and led the developed of the SDG Urban Index & Dashboard in November 2022.
He has been the driver of the world’s first government-led subnational SDG Index -the SDG India Index was launched in 2018. Since its inception, and now in its fourth year, it has become the country’s principal tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs for States and Union Territories. During his tenure, India’s first-ever National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was launched which provides poverty estimates for states and districts of the country.
He was instrumental in the conceptualisation of the USD 81 Bn National Asset Monetization Pipeline which aims to unlock value from brownfield infrastructure assets through structured contractual partnerships with the private sector. This massive scheme has been widely successful and has already exceeded its intended target for the first year.
Under his supervision, NITI Aayog produced a number of indices and ranked various Indian states on their performances. These indices include the School Education and Quality Index (SEQI), the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), the Health Index, Composite Water Management Index besides others.
He set up the Behavioral Insights Unit (BIU) of India and was instrumental in the launch of the Lifestyle For Environment (LiFE) movement, conceptualized by the Prime Minister, which places individual behavior at the heart of climate action.
He has also taken numerous other initiatives during his tenure at NITI including Online Dispute Resolution, Easing Compliance Burden and Decriminalisation of existing laws.
He is especially passionate about the sunrise sectors of growth, particularly Mobile Manufacturing, Green Hydrogen, Advanced Chemistry Cell Batteries, electric mobility and battery swapping and has steered several initiatives in these sectors for the purposes of climate adaptation and mitigation.
As the CEO of NITI Aayog, he served as Director in the Board of the National Highways Authority of India, Member of India’s National Statistical Commission, Member of the Digital Communications Commission of India, Director of the Board of the India International Convention Centre, Member of the National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT) and the Chairman of the Executive Council of the National Institute of Labour Economics, Research and Development.
Tenure as Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP)
Prior to his appointment as the CEO of NITI Aayog, he served as the Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion at the Government of India (2014-16). As Secretary, he vigorously drove the Ease of Doing Business initiative and ranking of States on outcome parameters.
These initiatives have led to India making a quantum jump in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Index and enabled Indian States to compete in the spirit of competitive federalism.
Key Government of India Assignments
Amitabh Kant also served as the Chairman and CEO of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) (2009-14) which is now known as NICDIC. The project was aimed at the development of futuristic, smart industrial cities in India which will converge and integrate next generation technologies across sectors. During his tenure with the central government, he has also worked as CMD of the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and as Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism. (2001-2007)
Tenure with Government of Kerala
As part of his tenure with the State Government of Kerala, he served as the Secretary of Tourism, Managing Director of the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation, District Collector of Kozikhode and the Managing Director, Matsyafed(Apex Fisheries Federation for transforming lives of traditional fishermen through technology) among numerous other assignments.
In Kerala, he structured the Calicut Airport as a private sector project based on User’s Fee basis and developed the ManachiraMaidan as a rejuvenative urban project in the heart of Calicut city.
Amitabh Kant is the author of the following books:-
- Branding India-An Incredible Story
- Incredible India 2.0
- Editor of “The Path Ahead- Transformative Ideas for India”.
- He is the author of over 500 published articles in leading Indian newspapers.
He is a Member of the Steering Board of “Shaping the Future of Production Systems” of World Economic Forum (WEF) and also a Champion of the EDISON Alliance of the WEF, the aim of which is to deepen digital inclusion across health, education and finance for developing nations across the world.
He is Member of the Regional Action Group on South Asia. He served as Chair of the Regional Strategy Group India from 2017 to 2020. He also served on the Management Board of the OECD- International Transport Forum (ITF), the world’s only inter-governmental agency for Transport.
- Economic Times Policy Change Agent of the Year Award
- Bloomberg TV Personality of the year Award
- NDTV Administrator of the year Award
- Distinguished Fellowship of the Institute of Directors.
- He is the recipient of One Globe Award-2016 for leadership in Transforming Governance for the 21st Century.
- He is also the recipient of Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship awarded by the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
- India Today’s High & Mighty rankings of 2019 featured Kant as one of the most powerful people in India under the category of “The Supercrats – India’s Top Bureaucrats”.
Amitabh Kant did his schooling from Modern School, Delhi, graduation in Economics (Hons) from St. Stephens, Delhi University and M.A from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is a Chevening Scholar. He has also undertaken a mid-term course with John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad.