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IAS officer bags WEF award

A young Indian Administrative Service officer, known for his crusade against land sharks in Delhi and for information technology in Andhra Pradesh, has been selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow.

A formal announcement is expected this week in Davos.

Srivatsa Krishna, 1994 IAS gold medallist, is also the first Indian career bureaucrat to figure in the prestigious list of Global Leaders for Tomorrow, which has in the past featured people like Hotmail's Sabeer Bhatia, Reliance's Mukesh Ambani, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek and writer Arundhati Roy.

The WEF announced the Global Leaders for Tomorrow for the Class of 2003 after an impartial and extensive, anonymous global consultation and nomination process, according to a statement issued by the WEF.

The Global Leaders for Tomorrow are those below 37, hold positions of influence and responsibility, and who have demonstrated their capacity to shape future agendas in their communities.

Krishna told rediff.com over email, "I see the GLT recognition as an important honor for India, the IAS, for HBS (Harvard Business School) and thereafter for me, personally."

Krishna started his IAS career in Delhi as Union Territory cadre officer. When he was a sub-divisional magistrate in Outer Delhi, he created a political storm by taking on a powerful lobby of land-grabbers.

In a police shootout during one of his demolition drives against illegal constructions two people died. The then Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma transferred him to the CAT [Centralised Accident and Trauma Services] ambulance network.

He beefed up the CAT services, and today the ambulance service is a prominent presence on Delhi roads, and one of the first to reach any accident site.

Later Krishna was moved out as a sub-divisional magistrate of the congested central Delhi area. He used extraordinary magisterial powers vested with the SDM under IPC 133, almost never used in India, threatening jail terms to the commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and other senior officers to clear a road to a major hospital, which was jammed with slum clusters. The road was cleared in record time.

He later shifted his present Andhra Pradesh cadre, when the state was beginning to ride the IT bandwagon under Chandrababu Naidu. He was till recently part of the core IT team of the Andhra Pradesh government and was responsible for some of the key investment promotion and e-government initiatives there.

Krishna said his selection was a tribute to the pioneering work being done by Naidu and his IT team in Andhra Pradesh. "I personally see Mr Naidu as a seminal point not just in Indian politics, but more so in Indian economics. His political genius is unequivocal and some of the things he is visioning for Andhra Pradesh are way ahead of the curve, even when I see it from the vantage point of Harvard Business School, from where one gets to observe and learn from the best of breed corporations and governments. He and Andhra Pradesh are perhaps among India's most valuable brands today," Krishna said.

During his various postings in IT department of AP, Krishna was tasked to build and manage the brand of the state as a preferred global investment destination and to attract key IT investments into the state. Simultaneously, he was involved in crafting the e-government strategy of AP and its implementation.

Krishna is presently on a sabbatical at Harvard Business School where he is completing the MBA Programme. He is the believed to be the first serving IAS officer to have been selected by the Harvard Business School.

Krishna is co-authoring a case study with Professor Michael Porter on technology clusters and economic development in India that will form a part of a global course taught at HBS. His study focuses on his experience in Andhra.

Besides, he is also writing a book on Leadership and e-Government Strategy to be published next summer.

The IAS officer has also done consulting assignments for the World Bank, Nasdaq, The Conference Board, and USAID in the past.

Krishna said he would like to be a "brand ambassador for India, especially for Indian knowledge industries like software, biotech and IT enabled services".

"These to my understanding, represent the greatest leveraging of the Indian mind and contain in them a potential far beyond what is being currently exploited. If these are leveraged properly, it can place India on the global investment map as the most preferred destination for global capital flows," he said.

Another area of focus for him would be in building trust through institutional reforms, Krishna said. "I believe that trust is fast becoming a luxury good in today's age and the world is getting segmented into high and low trust societies."

"Unless we can build and strengthen, market and non-market mechanisms for bolstering trust, all global cross-border inter-mediation that creates economic value would remain skewed and effete. There would be greater conflicts for the distribution of the existing economic pie, than there would be efforts towards the enlargement of the pie. Thus, building trust through institutional reform would be a key focus area for me," he said.

"Our selection process has ensured a fair representation of society fitting overall geographical, gender and sector balance criteria. In line with the Forum's commitment to building partnerships between business and society to improve the state of the world, the GLTs are integrated into the activities of the World Economic Forum with the objective of identifying and addressing in proactive, innovative and entrepreneurial ways, future-oriented issues on the global agenda," the Forum said in its statement.

Josy Joseph in New Delhi