Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally taking on India's notorious red tape to clear tens of billions of dollars worth of stalled public projects, hoping that his hands-on intervention can bend a vast, dysfunctional bureaucracy.
Once a month, Modi holds a meeting with top state and federal bureaucrats to check why projects have not got off the ground. Since March this year, his intervention has helped revive nearly $60 billion in federal and state projects, according to government data through September seen by Reuters.
Modi has won plaudits for the initiative that has chipped away at a $150 billion backlog of planned roads, ports, railways, power stations and other projects. But equally, critics say, the fact he needs to personally intervene shows the level of government inertia in Asia's third-biggest economy.
"It is a systemic problem that the prime minister needs to work on," said Arun Maira, a management consultant and member of the previous Congress government.
The initiative, launched by Modi in March and publicized on his personal web site and Twitter feed, is called pro-active governance and timely implementation, or Pragati, which means "progress" in the Hindi language.
Federal and state bureaucrats are linked by video to Modi's office for the meeting, usually held on the fourth Wednesday of each month. They are typically from the finance, law, land, environment, transport and energy ministries whose clearances are needed for many projects.