Following nearly 50 years of state-controlled economic policy, India deregulated its economy in 1991. Although India has since grown to the third largest economy in the world, the transition was not entirely seamless.
“Having always worked in a command and control economy, we were not initially prepared for the change,” said Anil Kumar Bhardwaj MIDP’15. “The challenge was to make Indian businesses aware of the benefits of economic competition.”
Kumar is currently serving as economic advisor for the Competition Commission of India, a seven-member commission established by the Government of India in 2003 to promote fair competition in the economy, provide a level playing field for producers, and make the markets work for the welfare of consumers.
In this role, he conducts research on various economic sectors to assess competition among businesses. As head of the commission’s outreach program, he also builds partnerships with academic institutions, professional bodies and trade associations to promote the free market.
“We’re currently seeing around 7.3 percent economic growth every year,” he said. “This growth rate reflects a positive outcome of promoting competition in the economy.”
Kumar has more than 20 years of experience in operations and management with the Government of India. Prior to working for the commission, Kumar served as director of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, where he led an e-governance and IT project (MCA21) that automated systems for business registration and compliance. The project was featured in the World Bank’s 2011 Doing Business report for promoting business activity and improving efficiency.
“We simplified the process so that what once took 45 working days now takes less than one working day,” he said. “Businesses can file documents and make payments with just one click.”
Kumar also worked in the Department of Telecommunications for 15 years, helping put in place the second largest telecommunications network in the world with one of the lowest call charges. Although he considers this one the highest points in his career, he was eager for the opportunity to work in a policymaking role to further the country’s economic growth.
“After 12 to 15 years one is allowed to move across various ministries in the Government of India, and I was fortunate to be posted in the regulatory ministry,” he said. “Once I started working there, I realized that it required in-depth knowledge of law, public policy and economic trends.”
As a result, he decided to pursue his Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) degree at Duke University, as well as an advanced law degree in India. The training he received at Duke, he said, helped him hone his skills in policy and economic analysis so he could better contribute to inclusive growth in India.
“You start understanding various methodologies, how to weigh various options, how to work with stakeholders, and how to use quantifiable indicators to identify problems and look at solutions,” he said.
In his spare time, Kumar is active in several initiatives to improve the quality of life in his home city of Faridabad. He was instrumental in establishing the Rotary Blood Bank Charitable Trust in 2006. Since the blood collection center opened in 2008, donations have been increasing every year with close to 10,000 units of blood collected last year.
“Earlier there was a severe shortage of blood in my hometown and people had to rush to Delhi, which is around 20 miles away,” he said.
He also supports the work of the Prayas Social Welfare Society, a nonprofit that educates more than 7,000 children of daily-wage earners and slum dwellers. Prayas, which means “effort” in Hindi, provides free education to children from low-income families through volunteer educators and access to public school classrooms after-hours.
“My social work has allowed me to see the gaps between what public policy can and cannot do,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I have the opportunity to give back.”