05 August, 2021

E. Sreedharan, Delhi Metro

“Whenever there’s a problem, he focuses on the target—‘like Arjuna’. It doesn’t ­matter who he has to crush on the way, even politicians,” says his biographer Rajendra B. Aklekar.

Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari
E. Sreedharan, Delhi Metro
  • DMRC runs the world’s 12th largest metro network


Every once in a while, messianic style, there rises a man from the catacombs of babucracy who dispels the gloom, shakes the dust off the files in the grey almirahs, and sets off to work so brimming with purpose that we realise things can actually get done in India. The contrast with the ambient sloth is so stark and the effect on the dispirited public so electrifying that the man starts believing in his halo. Seshan, Khairnar, Kejriwal…it’s a small but illuminating list. E. Sreedharan would have been there too—except that eul­ogies sit lightly on him and even now, at 84, he would rather simply set off to work.

It’s been like that for six straight decades. From restoring the 2.3 km Pamban bridge to Rameshwaram in a record 46 days after the 1964 cyclone, to the Kochi Metro, about to go live this summer after some prolonged signal trouble, there has been no time to stand and stare at the beauty of his own handiwork. And a lot of it...

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