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Lifetime Achievement: Mr Yashwant Sinha, Former Finance Minister, Government of India

India is promising an ambitious, third-generation economic and governance reform agenda. This should be the time to remember those who strove hard to illuminate the path of the country’s first and second generation of economic and governance reforms. Since the dynamics of the reforms were set in motion in the early 1990s, very few politicians conveyed their commitment to them in clear, unmistakable language and action than Yashwant Sinha. The former civil servant entered politics in the 1980s and went on to serve as the country’s Finance Minister twice between 1990-2002. He had also served as the External Affairs Minister from 2002-04.

As India’s reforms process gathered momentum, Sinha's second stint as Finance Minister was one of the most consequential in reshaping and reorienting India's economic policy. He is credited with pushing through several major reform measures, from disinvestment and deregulation of the public sector, infrastructure development to an overhaul of the taxation system. Notable among them were lowering real interest rates, introducing tax deduction for mortgage interest, freeing up the telecommunications sector that brought about the mobile phone revolution in the country and deregulating the petroleum industry. He singlehandedly managed the states to agree to VAT. He even defined India’s competition policy, which resulted in birth of Competition Commission of India years later. He liberalised India’s capital markets, which was accompanied by a major effort to simplify central government taxes by reducing exemptions and deductions and unifying and reducing rates. He is also known as the author of the Fiscal Responsibility & Budget Management Act, a path-breaking law that imposed legal limits on government deficits.

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Women Empowerment: Ms Maya Singh, Hon'ble Minister, Women & Child Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh

Women empowerment in Madhya Pradesh could not be strengthened so much before the year 2005 as in the period after it. Much of the credit for women empowerment goes to Maya Singh, currently Minister for Women & Child Development, Madhya Pradesh, who has been actively involved in social work since 1980 and set up schools for poor children and organisations to help the underprivileged. Her unwavering commitment has helped ameliorate the conditions of poor women belonging to backward classes. Schemes like Ladli Laxmi has benefited over 19 lakh girls who now have access to education and healthcare. Her efforts have resulted in women having equal rights in decision-making opportunities not only at the governance but also at the grassroots level. Project Tejaswini, that targets and enables poor women gain economic independence and empowerment is her brainchild.

In six tribal districts including Mandla and Dindori, women are growing minor millets called “Kodo” and “Kutki” that have high nutritional value and are finding good domestic and export demand. Tejaswini provides the market linkages – a first of its kind, wherein these local products are finding way to commercial markets. This has earned these SHGs a net profit of 39 lakh rupees who have more than 4 crore rupees as savings. Further Shaurya Dals have been constituted in these districts to stop discrimination and violence against women that has resulted in 30 per cent reduction in such incidences. By successfully implementing programmes such as Lado, Anmol and Beti Bachao Abhiyan under the guidance of Maya Singh, the state has become the first to pass the gender budget.

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Person of the Year - Excellence in Public Service: Mr Anthony de Sa, Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh has excelled in public service delivery and managed to create growth that is more inclusive than most other states. Anthony de Sa took over as its Chief Secretary in 2013. He is a firm believer in providing relevant interventions from top to bottom, realising fully well that there are vast variations in the type of interventions required and service delivery expectations in different quarters of citizenry. Be it social security, women & child development, education, online monitoring, agriculture or financial inclusion, Madhya Pradesh has created several successful models that others can take note of learn from. Samagra – a common integrated platform for digital inclusion and entitlement-based model of governance is unique. As envisioned by him, it provides single view of a citizen – to do with education, food security, pensions, marriage, welfare of persons with disabilities and insurance.

Each of 7.26 crore residents with Samagra Digital ID are tracked. It has already helped 28 lakh pensioners and 1.4 crore students seeking scholarships in the state in addition to verification of over 90% residents/families as priority households. In another first of its kind, the Madhya Pradesh Model of Financial Inclusion – Samruddhi – Anthony de Sa has led the banks to set up Ultra Small Branches (USBs) in in Panchayat Bhawan itself resulting in over 3,000 points of presence with over 37 lakh new accounts in these villages opened. This has made universal banking a reality in 14,767 villages. He has ensured that every resident in these villages avails banking services within 5 km of their walking distance.

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Insurance: Mr G Srinivasan, Chairman & Managing Director, The New India Assurance Company Ltd

G Srinivasan, Chairman & Managing Director of New India Assurance has steered the public sector insurer to become a market leader in India garnering over 15 per cent of market share. Despite poor economy, the NIA’s net profit quarter after quarter has grown by leaps and bounds. The company has emerged as a preferred partner and leader for MSMEs too. Grown at an average 14 per cent during last few years, the NIA is now targeting to double its growth during the next three years. Action plans, the KRA fixation, review and monitoring and data-based management are part of Srinivasan’s vision. He has innovatively connected KRAs with the core operations of the company. He communicates with all of the 20,000 odd employees regularly through SMS across 2,000 offices. The combined effect of all the initiatives is resulting in NIA growing against a negative economic index.

He has taken the count of micro offices – manned by two or three personnel – to 1,000, the largest in the country. In order to increase its feet on street and the customer touch points, Srinivasan has offered employment to 20,000 youth. Clearly, the growth in NIA has resulted from soliciting business rather than waiting for it.