Anil Swarup is just the kind of man Prime Minister Narendra Modi is relying on to fix India - a high-flying civil servant with a taste for complex policy and swift decisions.
Modi has drawn trusted bureaucrats into a tight embrace. Interviews with two dozen sources, including close aides, reveal that key decisions are now thrashed out between his office and civil servants, often at the expense of ministerial authority.
Swarup sees a golden era for those willing to rise to the challenge. In his case that means ending coal shortages that keep much of India in the dark, a top priority for Modi.
In a series of meetings with civil servants, often without the ministers they nominally report to, Modi has urged bold decisions and promised all the help they need.
"He has given a virtual carte blanche. Go and do it," Swarup told Reuters. However, he did not say the responsibility handed to him had come at the expense of ministers.
Such moves, along with disciplinary innovations such as finger scanners to track attendance, have helped break a logjam in decision-making that undermined the last government, spawned corruption scandals and soured the investment climate.
Modi's style also lessens dissent from potential rivals, helping him capture power to a degree not seen since Indira Gandhi ruled India with an iron fist 30 years ago.
Critics call it authoritarian and say he is weakening India's collegiate cabinet system. Some in government caution that in a country as complex as India, over-centralization can lead to new bottlenecks.
The government denies there is interference in the ministries, saying Modi's role is to facilitate policy.
"There is one misconception - the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) does not issue direction to the ministries," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
The shakeup started as soon as Modi took office six months ago, when he declared "all important policy issues" part of his portfolio. He quickly took control of bureaucratic appointments, cutting ministers out of the loop.
Since September, there have been three major reshuffles in the civil service, all closely overseen by Modi and his core team. Top officials have woken to find themselves thrust into the limelight, or shunted into administrative backwaters.
A cabinet expansion on Sunday and a new finance ministry team advised by leading economist Arvind Subramanian should boost the capacity and intellectual heft of the government.
Yet not everyone is happy with the new order.