Understanding the power of the PM Gati Shakti Scheme

  • Articles
  • May 02,23
By creating a six-point framework, the PM Gati Shakti Scheme (PMGSS) has put in place a mechanism to deal with the real challenges that are faced in infra projects. This mechanism is expected to lead India to a GDP of $ 5 trillion by 2025, says R Jayaraman.
Understanding the power of the PM Gati Shakti Scheme

The Gati Shakti Sanchar Portal (gatishaktisanchar.gov.in) captures the data on the projects being approved and sanctioned funds for implementation under the PM Gati Shakti Scheme (PMGSS). As on 22 April, 2023, the position of some of the key metrics on display in the website is: 
  • Applications received: 191,726
  • Applications Approved: 86,668
  • Applications Deemed approved: 19,048
  • Applications Rejected: 40,123, and so on...

These metrics are tracked and reported in for all public to see, and check out on the promise of the PMGSS. Transparent, fast, business-like, unlike a democratically elected government in a functioning democracy like India. Indeed, the bureaucracy in India is changing, keeping up with the requirements of the transformation currently underway. In the next few years, the effects of the PMGSS will be seen on the ground. And, the relentless eye of the media and opposition parties will be critically examining the promise vs delivery performance. 

The goals are clear and simple: a GDP of $ 5 trillion by 2025 and $ 20 trillion by 2040. I am reminded of the goals set by TCS – $ 10 billion sales by 2010 and $ 20 billion by 2020. These are, in the words of author Jim Collins, BHAGs – Big Hairy Audacious Goals; resorted to, to make transformational changes. While BHAGs have been used by corporates in their Balanced Score Cards to drive performance, the same are being used by the present government, and the PMGSS is one of the prime drivers of this spirit of doing things. 

To achieve the stated goals of economic development, the government has identified the creation of ‘world-class’ infra as a key enabler. This enabler has been designed to dramatically change the infra landscape in the country through ground breaking thinking, backed by implementation. The stats quoted from the website appear impressive, indicative of a well begun effort. These are all parts of several ‘garlands’ (or malas, like Sagar Mala, Parvat Mala, etc.), strung together, to create a national mosaic of infra. The anchor of this mega plan of PMGSS rests on six pillars. These are: Comprehensiveness, Prioritization, Optimization, Synchronization, Analytics and Dynamic. Let’s try to get a good idea of how these six pillars will lead to a networked infra.

Comprehensiveness refers to the coming together of ministries working on various aspects of infra. For example, roads, railways, airports, and, related ministries, like, commerce, steel and mines, etc. The idea is very similar to the one that Toyota introduced sometime in the 1950’s, of ‘integrated new product development’, which has become the model process – called ‘NPI’ or the ‘New products Introduction’ process – in many automobile companies across the globe. Whereas, before the NPI, different departments would work independently to develop new products, which often led to several reworkings and consequent delays, the post NPI scenario is quite different. It has resulted in the reduction of the end-to-end cycle time of introducing a new automobile model from about 4 years to 18 months. By avoiding rework, wasted efforts and practicing ‘integrated’ working, the process was made more efficient. In the case of the PMGSS, the same principle applies, and, the bringing together of all the departments of the government will lead to speedier completion of infra projects. This comprehensiveness is achieved by integrated planning, information sharing in real time, using common protocols, and updating all the relevant databases (using the most modern technologies). 

Prioritisation is the art of allocating a limited budget to the most deserving, to get the best returns in the short and long term, to use the available resources efficiently and optimally. For example, one will give development of railways priority in areas where bulk connectivity is to be provided. Once the railway line is ready, or partially completed, then road works can start. Similarly, an airport should be started before laying the roads and rail lines. The comprehensive planning will address the proper allocation of budgets for infra being planned in a geographical area (refer Figure 1).

Optimisation is the making of choices for investing in infra. For example, whether an airport or a railway line is to be preferred, whether an area should be served only by newly laid railway lines, and make use of already laid roads, are the subject matter of optimisation. Making optimal use of existing and new infra facilities, blending them together for synergy, and maximising capacity utilisation are achieved by optimisation (refer Figure 2).

Synchronisation is a term often used in the Theory of Constraints literature. Synchronisation is the act of using assets in a way that will maximise capacity utilisation, minimise in-process inventories, scheduling the usage of the assets in a manner that will maximise output under the given constraint regime. For example, if, in a line, there are two machines, one with double the capacity of the other, then this machine will be scheduled to be run only half the time of the other machine, so that, the output is achieved with optimal usage if the two machines, with zero in-process inventory. Synchronisation is critical for achieving efficiency across the board. For example, if a railway line is constructed, then the signalling, the platforms, sidings etc should all be constructed at the appropriate times. If the line is ready, but either the platforms or the signalling systems are not in place, then the line cannot be used. 

Analytics is the study of the information being generated about phenomena taking place in the construction of the infra. Modern data analytics of processes recognises four types of data analyses: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive. The first two are useful for planning, while the latter two are useful for execution. With cloud computing, and SCADA type of data gathering using IOT, analytics becomes the tool for integration. The PM Gati Shakti Scheme would have devised an elaborate toolkit for data analytics, using the latest technologies (refer Figure 3). 

Dynamic is the very essence of planned execution. Any plan which does not change during execution is not worth the paper that it is written on. With time, things change, and a plan must be constantly updated, and CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Actions) should be taken at the appropriate times. ‘Dynamic’ applies to all the facets – comprehensiveness, prioritization, optimisation, synchronisation and analytics.
And, by creating this six-point framework, the PM Gati Shakti Scheme has put in place a mechanism to deal with the real challenges that are faced in infra projects. While MITI and the Marshall Plan executors had to contend with ‘primitive’ conditions for making transformational change, the PMGSS is in a better position, due to the many technological advances since. So, it is hoped that the new ‘machinery’ that has been created for the infra mega push will fulfil all the promises. And lead India to a GDP of $ 5 trillion by 2025. 

About the author:
R Jayaraman is the Head, Capstone Projects, at Bhavan's S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR). He has worked in several capacities, including Tata Steel, for over 30 years. He has authored over 60 papers in academic and techno economic journals in India and abroad. Jayaraman is a qualified and trained Malcolm Baldrige and EFQM Business Model Lead Assessor.

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