New Delhi: The builders of modern India are often unseen. And amongst them are some men who are worthy of a salute.
E Sreedharan’s contribution to India's public transport system is beyond measure so he is CNN-IBN’s chosen one for Indian of the Year for the public service category.
However, for the 76-year-old Managing Director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, and also its builder and its executor, the only reward he has ever wanted is the progress of his country.
Bureaucratic red tape tried to delay his work, contractors would not meet commitments and corruption threatened to slow him down.
However, Sreedharan never lost hope. Never lost the belief that one day he could give Delhi a world-class metro rail project and change the meaning of urban transport in India. And that is exactly what he has done.
With 56 kilometer on track and only two phases left to complete, the $2 billion project is running ahead of time and strictly within budget.
In just two more years, the high-speed underground train will be accessible to every resident of Delhi. And India's public transport revolution is the result of one man's conviction that his country deserves only the best.
He clocks in at work on the dot at 0845 HRS (IST) every morning, 15 minutes before his staff. And admits that he is not a workaholic but he simply likes his job.
For him, the job at hand is not just his duty but also his dharma. He is hardly ever seen in public and rarely gives interviews or attends public functions, yet his honesty and integrity are legendry.
The Konkan Railway project came to him after he had retired from the railways.
It was a daunting task----760 km of rail tracks from Mumbai to Kochi through the rugged mountains of the Western Ghats.
Environmentalists protested, politicians said it could never be done and the project ran short of money. But Sreedharan raised public bonds to finance it in an unprecedented manner.
Today, the Konkan Railway chugs merrily down the coastline. Sreedharan's willpower has moved mountains.
Of course, he was one of TIME magazine's Asian heroes, but to us at CNN IBN Sreedharan is much more, he is one of modern India's greatest sons.
He is not just a dreamer but also a builder, but most of all one who has dedicated his achievements to every Indian.
Former IPS officer, Kiran Bedi explains why Sreedharan is worthy of the title:
“He is not in his 40s or 50s, but he is in his 70s, a time when we normally retire. Sreedharan has given the best metro concept for the railway of the country with integrity, vision, with commitment and with remarkable professional skills. There is no other person better than him in this category.”