Who is Kunal Kumar? - Indian Civil Servant and Urban Planner

Full NameKunal Kumar
Current RoleJoint Secretary and Mission Director, Smart Cities Mission
OrganizationIndian Administrative Service, Government of India
LocationNew Delhi, India
EducationMaster's in Public Management (Harvard Kennedy School, National University of Singapore), Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering (IIT Roorkee)
LanguagesNot specified
Key SkillsUrban governance, rural development, public management
Notable AwardsPrime Minister's Indosan Award, Prime Minister's Award for Aadhar Governance, Best eGoverned District

Kunal Kumar began his academic journey at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from 1993 to 1997. IIT Roorkee is one of the oldest and most esteemed engineering institutions in India, known for producing a significant number of technology leaders and innovators.

Following his undergraduate studies, Kumar pursued higher education in public management, obtaining Master's degrees from two renowned institutions: the Harvard Kennedy School in the United States and the National University of Singapore. Both institutions are celebrated for their rigorous programs in public policy and administration, equipping graduates like Kumar with the skills necessary for effective governance and leadership.

Professional Journey in Public Service

Kunal Kumar's professional career began in September 1999 when he joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), undergoing initial training as a Trainee Officer in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. The IAS is India's premier civil service, tasked with administering public sector undertakings and advising on various administrative matters.

Early Roles in Maharashtra

Kumar's early roles involved significant responsibilities across various districts in Maharashtra. He served as Sub Divisional Magistrate at Saoner Sub Division from July 2001 to April 2002, where he began his hands-on administrative work. He then moved to become the Chief Executive Officer at Nagpur Zila Parishad until November 2003, followed by a brief stint as District Collector in Bhandara.

From 2004 to 2006, Kumar was the Additional Municipal Commissioner of Nagpur, and subsequently, he took on the role of Municipal Commissioner in Kolhapur until mid-2008. His leadership continued as District Collector first in Jalgaon and then in Aurangabad, where he implemented significant e-governance initiatives, earning him the Best eGoverned District award by the Computer Society of India in 2009.

Leadership in Urban Development

In August 2014, Kumar was appointed as the Municipal Commissioner of Pune, where he integrated informal workers into the Solid Waste Management work of Pune Municipal Corporation, an achievement that earned him the Prime Minister's Indosan Award in 2013.

Smart Cities Mission

Since May 2018, Kunal Kumar has been serving as the Joint Secretary and Mission Director of the Smart Cities Mission at the Government of India, based in New Delhi. In this role, he coordinates urban policy work for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and is involved in various inter-ministerial committees. His team implements the National Urban Digital Mission and he oversees significant frameworks like the Ease of Living and Municipal Performance indices. Kumar also serves as the Vice President of the National Institute of Urban Affairs, enhancing urban policy and planning in India.

Contributions and Philosophy

Kunal Kumar is driven by a passion for societal change and urban development. His approach to governance is characterized by a blend of action-oriented leadership and a deep respect for integrity and creativity. Despite facing criticisms for being impulsive and emotionally driven, his accomplishments in urban governance and rural development highlight his ability to effect substantial positive change.

Kunal Kumar's career is a testament to his dedication to public service and his capacity to navigate complex challenges in urban and rural governance. His leadership in the Smart Cities Mission exemplifies his commitment to improving urban living conditions through innovative and sustainable solutions.