Atal Bihari Vajpayee is #madeofgreat

Do you know someone who is #MadeOfGreat? I do, and his name is Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Who doesn’t know Atal Bihari Vajpayee? Arguably India’s most famous Prime Minister, the man is a legend.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001. Image credits EditorMarkJameBenson, released into the Public Domain, available on the Wikimedia Commons

I’m not going to go into his background, for that is irrelevant for us here. I’m only going to focus on one major section of his life. The one section that had a profound effect on the entire nation. Yes, it has everything to do with transport. I’m referring to Atalji’s second and third terms as Prime Minister. It was during this time, that he did three major things relating to transport:

  • The National Highways Development Project
  • The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
  • Delhi-Lahore Bus

Let me start with these, and explain exactly what they mean to us as Indians.

The National Highways Development Project [NHDP]

The National Highways Development Project, the crowning glory of the first NDA government in India consisted of two main sections at that time:

  • The Golden Quadrilateral
  • The North South East West Corridor
The Golden Quadrilateral
The Dehu Road - Katraj Bypass at Pashan in Pune along the Mumbai-Pune-Bangalore National Highway.
The Dehu Road – Katraj Bypass at Pashan in Pune along the Mumbai-Pune-Bangalore National Highway. Image copyright Amit20081980, CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported, available on the Wikimedia Commons.

The GQ was envisioned as a set of four lane highways connecting the four metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. It also included India’s first major Expressways; Mumbai-Pune, Delhi-Gurgaon, and Ahmedabad-Vadodara. Barring a few stretches such as the Udaipur Bypass and the Hubli-Dharwad bypass, it was mostly four-laned, with a few sections being six laned. The net result? Travel time to between various cities shot down by 50%. Subsequently, the UPA government decided to six lane the GQ, while several state governments initiated similar programs for four laning their State Highways. The impact of the Golden Quadrilateral was felt immediately as sections were completed. Nearly 95% of the project was completed before the NDA government left office, and one must congratulate Major General BC Khanduri, then Minister of Surface Transport with the Government of India and Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Public Works in Maharashtra till 1999 for laying the groundwork for future projects. The bulk of the project was funded through a 1% cess levied on fuel and recovered by collecting Toll. The GQ also saw the construction of India’s first and so far, only National Expressway, the Mahatma Gandhi Expressway, connecting Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat. The only major non-National Highway section on the GQ is the Yeshwantrao Chavan Expressway, built by the MSRDC, connecting Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra.

North-South and East-West Corridors

Another major project initiated under the NHDP by the NDA government, this project aimed to connect Srinagar in the North to Kanyakumari in the South and Silchar in the East with Porbandar in the West. The connected major Indian cities that were not covered by the GQ, such as Hyderabad, Nagpur, Jabalpur, Coimbatore, Cochin, etc. It also laid the basis for the Port Connectivity Projects, Sagar Mala, Bharat Mala, etc by subsequent governments in the centre. Again, it also spurred several state and city funded projects to provide connectivity between National Highways and others towns as well. Two notable projects include the four laning of the  Bangalore-Mysore State Highway connecting Mysore to both the GQ and North South corridor at Bangalore and the six-eight lane Hyderabad Outer Ring Road that connects the two arms of the Sringar-Kanyakumari, Pune-Vijaywada National Highways apart from numerous state highways passing thru Hyderabad.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana [PMGSY]
A PMGSY Road marker in Jalandhar.
A PMGSY Road marker in Jalandhar. Image Copyright Gopal Aggarwal of Image available on the Wikimedia Commons under a CC 2.0 Attribution Generic licence.

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana [PMGSY], literally translating to Prime Minister’s Village Roads Project, was initiated by the NDA government in order to provide all weather roads to villages that were hitherto unconnected. In 2010, it was reported that the PMGSY started changing the lifestyles of villagers in the North Eastern Parts of the country. A very noble plan, it has impacted villagers massively, offering them connectivity which has in turn boosted trade and helped villagers deal with others without middlemen as well.

Of course, the subsequent UPA government tried to hijack the project with Jairam Ramesh infamously stating that the Project was Atalji’s “Poem” but it was the subsequent government that gave it the wings. A fine way to steal credit, might I add.

Delhi-Lahore Bus
The Friendship Bus Delhi-Lahore at the Pakistan-India border.
The Friendship Bus Delhi-Lahore at the Pakistan-India border. Image Copyright Lorenz Khazaleh, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0, available on Flickr.

This was the most amazing thing that Atalji’s government did. A bus connecting two neighbouring countries that have been at war for most of their history. Officially known as the Sada-e-Sarhad, it was launched on 19 February 1999 connecting Delhi and Lahore via the Attari-Wagah border. A gesture of friendship between India and Pakistan, it continues on today, 16 years later. It is jointly operated by the Delhi Transport Corporation [DTC] and the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation [PTDC], who run buses on alternate days. It laid the basic framework for the introduction of the Delhi-Kathmandu Bus by the DTC and the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala buses by the Tripura Road Transport Corporation [TRTC], West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation [WBSTC] and Shyamoli Paribahan [SB] a decade later.

In 2015, India was a signatory of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement [BBIN MVA], for seamless movement of road traffic among the four nations. This achievement, combined with the launch of international bus services makes international road travel something every Indian can look forward to.


At the end of the day, one can say that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was certainly one of the best Prime Ministers we had. By laying a solid foundation in the transport sector, he effectively ensured that all other sectors benefited and the economy grew and that millions reaped rewards. So next time you take your brand new Tata car out for a drive and cross 100km/hr, remember that it was Vajpayee who made it possible.

This post has been written for a competition organised by Tata Motors because Football legend Lionel Messi has been roped in as their Brand Ambassador. For more details, head to You stand a chance to win a voucher worth ₹750 from Amazon if you are able to answer the following question: “What do you think of Tata Motors’ association with Lionel Messi?” in the comments below. Make sure you aren’t left out! Please post your comments by 25th November 2015.

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Author: Srikanth

BEST? Bus! Vroom, *pulls bellpull* Hi, I'm Srikanth. I'm a freelance media fellow with a fascination for buses, toll plazas, fire trucks and drones.

39 thoughts on “Atal Bihari Vajpayee is #madeofgreat”

  1. A very nice write up dear..
    And about the association of tata motors n Lionel Messi, both are the big names though associated with different fields but are the best to rely upon. Their association defines the quality, faith and trust which is hard to break.

    Please spare your time and comment on my blog post as well to win Amazon voucher.

  2. Indeed a great writeup on really madeofgreat personality. Kudos.

    As to association of Lionel Messi I am glad to see the union of the two. Tata motors has found real gem. Their brand will reach to new heights.

  3. This post made me time-travel to the beginning of the 2K millennium even if virtually, Srikanth.
    Very well written. 🙂

    As for the expression of views towards the question, I would like to answer through a stanza or two of verse:

    ‘What drives us from within is what makes us great’
    Belief in oneself, the zeal to put up a brave face,
    In the face of adversity, to stand strong against fate,
    That’s how life is – it’s an excellent goal to chase!

    To create a name for oneself, from the soil your feet dampen,
    To let critics enhance your effort, not let your spirits dampen,
    It’s the journey that counts, more than having scaled the peak,
    To persevere so that it’s your actions that have the loudest shriek!

    To sum up, I feel that this age old adage rings true whenever I think of this beautiful alliance of an Indian Global Brand – Tata Motors and a Global Argentinian Sportsperson – Lionel Messi

    “Our Similarities bring us to a common ground; Our Differences allow us to be fascinated”

    That realization is truly #madeofgreat. 🙂

  4. There are few leaders who can make an impact not only for people in his party ,or the people under him but rather the entire nation.
    Its endearing to see the list of achievements the above leader has accomplished and even more the way you have listed them fresh off memory

    Frankly not many people could have achieved so much nor elected so many times for India’s highest position and you have clearly demonstrated why he’s definitely madeofgreat

    Greatness is not just being a great leader and doing things, but rather someone who instills some faith and confidence in his people and act as a person whom his followers can look up to. He should be someone who’s remembered20 years later as history books writes pages on him and his greatness. This is one clear example of one great leader showing what it takes to be one !

    overall a great post about greatness and my wishes for you to win the top prize

    1. Thanks a lot. 🙂
      The truth is that I was a kid when Atalji was the PM. The GQ impacted us a lot because we used to do weekly trips between Bombay and Valsad and monthly ones from Bombay to Poona. I have seen the roads go from two to four lanes, I have seen the Expressway get built. I have experienced the change that it brought and it really means a lot to me. 🙂

  5. To answer the question about Lionel Messi’s association with Tata Motors, I think there’s no perfect match than these two. Both are known for quality, consistency, reliability and superior performance in their respective industries. Lionel Messi when it comes to Football while Tata Motors when it comes to amazing cars at affordable prices

    Lionel Messi can clearly bring out that superior edge and establish the greatness of Tata motors and make people realize the true greatness in their cars

  6. Really good insights on the contribution of the government under the aegis of Atalji.

    As for my thoughts on Tata Motors association with football great Lionel Messi, both are well established brands BOLTing ahead of competition which is an INDICAtion of their ZEST for reaching the upper echelons of success by exhibiting constant zeal from the word (INDI)GO.
    Do hop over to my blog and share your thoughts on my post

  7. As you’ve mentioned, the Delhi-Lahore Bus way should have been a harder task for him. Good that you have brought out his great deeds.

    Among Messi’s several achievements, the best that stands out in my mind is outgrowing his childhood growth hormone deficiency. For the sports legend he is today, I guess none can believe this. And Tata Indica, Tata’s first passaenger car! Initially it faced such huge criticism. Still, Tata Motors could make it as one of the best selling cars in India! Some stories move us, from within, don’t they?! Their association certainly promises something far greater than what we’ve witnessed so far!

  8. My first visit to your blog courtesy #madeofgreat and its is truly worthwhile. I think you hit the nail on the head about the national highways project during the stalwart’s time. Also, he had the same vision of Rajaji about linking of rivers but unfortunately the electorate did not give him a second term to fulfill that!

    The ‘nuts and bolts’ of the coming together of two legends is hard work, determination to succeed and integrity! They are true winners outwitting all their opponents within ‘striking’ range!!!

    I think you did one better than an ophthalmologist in testing my eyes with the captcha!!

    1. Haha, thank you very much. I’m honoured. 🙂
      The Captcha, yes, BESTpedia is notorious at attracting SPAM, and the Captcha is notorious at driving away my readers. 😇

  9. Awesome article and well written. Atalji is my all time favorite personality. I remember when as a kid I use to attend his rallies and speeches with my parents, I use to be mesmerized the way in which he use to speak. It was direct, straightforward yet with a tadka of humor in it. Even in class me and my friends use to enact his style of speaking. Atalji in my opinion is a true star.

    As for Lionel Messi and Tata Motors association, the only thing I can say is greatness never comes in a day, it requires intense passion to change the world in their own way. This can only happen when one is a visionary.

    1. Yes, Atalji’s speeches were truly inspirational. 🙂
      My favourite was the one when he handed in his Resignation to PA Sangma in 1996.

  10. I think you forgot one supremely important contribution of Atalji. Operation Shakti, the Pokhran II test. It made us more reliant on Nuclear Power which in the long term helps power major projects, and also thanks to the economic sanctions that came with it. Had these sanctions not been there, the government may not have finished the Delhi Metro project the way it did back in 2002.

    1. I deliberately left it out, hoping for someone to comment on it. Now that you have, aah well.
      Yes, we certainly do need power if we’re going to have superfast trains and electric buses in the future.

  11. Atal Sir’s work in the area of Transport can never be overlooked. He has done a remarkable job especially with Delhi-Lahore Bus Service and The Golden Quadrilateral initiative. I have also respected his contribution to reforms in India and his spirit to live above party politics and stand for what is right. he is among very few politicians who are respected across the aisle. I really appreciate how you highlighted his work explaining how it improved several aspects of our transportation system which in a way strengthens our economy. Great Post !!!!

    My answer to your question: The person you choose to write about for #madeofgreat campaign is the perfect choice in my opinion. So is the association of Messi with Tata Motors, because both of them are committed to deliver 100 percent every single time. These two are behemoth brands which have dedicated themselves to perfection in their respective fields for years and years now.

    It is no coincidence that Messi himself drives a range rover which is a product of Tata Motors now. The brand has been known for its trustworthiness, simplicity, durability and reliability for decades now, A tie-up with legend like Messi whose commitment to his team and ability to deliver whatever is necessary every single time will take the value and goodwill which company has developed since 1945 to a whole new level of awesomeness. The fact that it took 16 months of efforts to get Messi in the driver’s seat says a lot about how difficult it is to chase world’s most gifted footballer. Hoping to see this association foster into a long term relationship.

    Messi reflects the Trust the soccer fans all around the world put on him while so does Tata Motors for the automobile enthusiasts across the country. Both of them have achieved feats unparalleled and have stood far apart from all their competitors, hope that this association turns out to be a value addition for both the sides. Cheers !!!!

  12. I totally admire Mr Bajpayee. However my mom is #madeofgreat!
    Tata Motors represent India. Tata is associated with reliability, performance and strength of automobiles. Similarly Lionel Messi represents football. He stands for reliabilty, performance and strength of his football team. 

  13. Totally agreed about Mr. Vajpayee. A truly remarkable figure in the history of Indian politics.. he changed the face of governance for the good..
    I have the same sentiments about Tata Motors’ association with Lionel Messi. Standing for common principles of excellence and perfection, they are capable of changing the face of how products are created and customers’ needs are met 🙂

  14. Very well written Srikant. And yes, India was fortunate enough to have such a great PM but unfortunate for not having him for a longer-term.

    1. Thanks a lot Munj! Agreed, India should have given ABV another chance, but that failure is what ensured that India has Modi today. So I guess in the long run, it is a win-win situation.

  15. The story of a Legend in himself – that’s how I will describe it in a short sentence. Very well written with the pics which enhances the simplicity yet greatness of the Legend..Salutations and very happy for you to have got inspired and bringing out your best in life.

    My answer: Tata is a name which any and every person can rely on for its honesty, commitment and perseverance. Lionel Messi is a legend who has carved his name in history books with total dedication to the game, simple living and improvisation which is seen with each game he plays. The association of Tata Motors and Lionel Messi as their Brand Ambassador will definitely give an edge to the Tata group over its competitors solely because the brand Ambassador also holds the same reputation of not letting his fans down ever, like Tata Motors who have given the best to the world over the decades. Its an exemplary association par excellence.

    You can choose my answer as the best if you feel I described it all well.. 🙂

  16. Yes, I agree with you Atal Ji is born with good thoughts and he is the person who devoted his full life for our country. Hats Off to Him.

    My answer about the association :
    Tata Motors has earned the goodwill from giving the best and innovative Automobiles and it is also known as one the best Automobile Manufactures. And if you see the Lionel Messi , his throughout dedication, zeal , targeted goal of life and technically soundness make him big, achiever and remarkable position in the world.
    As per me, the association of Tata Motors and Messi is a grand amalgamation of two legendary entities of the world, and their amalgamation will definitely break down the clutters and affect the cut throat competition of Tata Motors. Tata motors will sure get a huge preference by the fans of Messi. This will sure make a record of Tata motors in the world of production or may be the highest selling automobiles.
    Tata motor’s main target is to give an impression on the large amount of crowd and this can be achieved only through the Messi, because the youth generation is crazy for MESSI and this can be smart move and a great achievement for Tata Motors they positioned MESSI as their BRAND AMBASSADOR .
    In the nutshell, Tata Motors , Messi joining hands will definitely give more soundness in technicality of promotional strategies and Messi’s influence will influence the audience for choosing Tata Motors and expand the business drastically.

  17. This was really informative….I don’t know about more than half of what was written… Being a frequent traveller thru the Mumbai pune highway I can say that it has improved the quality of travel in this country. It has raised the standards of intercity transport here.

    As for the competition. Messi is a player of discipline. He respects the game of football. He does so because it wasn’t easy for him to attain the position he is in now. His height was a major concern that could have been a discouragement for him. But he always wanted to be big. And big he became when barca signed him into their under 19 team and did everything to increase his height. But even so they saw a gem in him. Today the defence of even the biggest teams tremble at the sight if him.

    He is unpredictable and surprises them every time from anywhere with great dribble skills and a perfect finish, always.

    The same goes for Tata. It respects what it does. It hasn’t become the biggest in the industries it enters just without looking at what the consumers want. It keeps the audience before it. Also it has a discipline that us unmatched in India. Tata never uses harsh marketing techniques forcing the buyer to purchase a Tata product. Rather it makes sure of it quality products so that the buyer can never refuse it.

    Also Tata is a well known company for its charity. Making sure India grows along with it. This collaboration between the messi and Tata is perfect symbol of prosperity through sportsmanship and always striving for the summit.

    As Albert Einstein has said “Out of Clutter, find simplicity”, these two are living examples of this. In our world of cut throat competition, people tend to be more complex forgetting that simplicity is the biggest complexity. Tata lives by these principles. And so does the little maestro or Lionel Messi.

  18. Indeed a nicely written post. I wish you good luck for the contest
    Here is my answer
    The association of Tata Motors with Lionel Messi is that of two greats. Lionel Messi has been exceptionally talented who with his hard work, determination and sacrifices has got better and tougher in his chosen sport so is the Image, reputation and quality of TATA Motors that have transformed brilliant ideas into masterpieces of engineering and created a brand and products that we are so proud of as Indians. Lionel Messi has transformed his body and the mind body co-ordination into a masterpiece of precision and excellence it would not be wrong to say that Lionel Messi is the TATA Motors of sports where as TATA Motors is the Lionel Messi of vehicles both giants in their own spheres driven by the drive to excel and lead by example. So Lionel Messi is the best choice for becoming the brand Ambassador for TATA Motors

  19. Your post defines #madeofgreat in a awesome manner.Very well written and interesting post indeed.
    My Answer
    Tata Motors is a brand that makes durable vehicles, with its MADE IN INDIA mark makes every Indian proud. It is a brand seen globally as Trusted, Reliable, Innovative and at the forefront of technology. In its journey since inception it has overcome all odds, competition, and adversities with grit and determination. These same qualities are associated with Lionel Messi who was very talented and hardworking from a very early age. With each game that he played he kept improving his skills and built a career to become one of the best player of professional football. There qualities make both TATA Motors and Lionel Messi giants who perfectly compliment each other and Lionel Messi the right and perfect Ambassador who stands for the same values that TATA Motors does.

  20. Your post describes #madeofgreat so well that it has winner written all over it. Good luck for your entry.
    Here is my answer.
    Like minds think and act alike looking at the track record of TATA Motors it has stood the test of time and built a business that was built using bricks of hard work on a foundation of trust. Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the trademarks of brand TATA Motors. These same qualities are present in Lionel Messi who with his immense talent has made a mark for himself on the international football field .Facing all hardships he has worked hard toiling on the fields and in training sessions facing injuries and pressure to come out trumps and be a winner. Thus these two greats Lionel Messi and TATA Motors are made for each other .There association is a bond of two legends

    Fingers crossed 🙂

  21. Nice article! I’ve had first hand experience of the development of the GQ project and all I can say is wah! Great project to boost the Economy!

    Glad that Tata Motors teamed up with Lionel Messi. Great to see when the organization which makes India proud on the global stage teams with one of the greatest footballers alive! Both the Tata Motors and Messi started from scratch and now have scaled unreachable peaks: legends on their own. Both are the best proof that hard work never fails and striving for excellence never disappoints. I hope the association blossoms and further enhances the global presence of Tata Motors! Cheers

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