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On 7th July 2021, 43 ministers were sworn in, in a cabinet expansion and reshuffle. This was the first reshuffle and expansion since PM Modi assumed charge for a second term in May 2019. While some ministers were promoted, many new faces were inducted in the cabinet.12 ministers also resigned before the cabinet expansion and reshuffle. This includes some prominent ministers like Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare; Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Information Technology ; Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Minister of Education and Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment and Forest and Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Some newly inducted ministers belong to JD(U), LJP and AD(S) who are the alliance partners of the BJP in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The new union cabinet is a very inclusive one. The average age of the new cabinet is 58 years compared to the older cabinet whose average age was 61 years. Special attention was given to ensure representation of all the sections of the society. 12 ministers are from the SC community, 8 from the ST community and 27 from the OBC community. 5 ministers belong to the minority communities. There is more representation of women in the new cabinet; 7 women MPs were inducted in the new cabinet, taking the total number of women ministers to 11.
Some ministers are PhD and some are MBA degree holders. The new cabinet also has a good professional experience with 16 lawyers, 6 doctors, 5 engineers and 7 former civil servants in the cabinet. According to the ADR report which cited election affidavits, 33 ministers (42%) have criminal cases against them and 90% ministers have declared their total assets more than 1 crore.
In the ongoing pandemic, the Health Ministry has become one of the most important ministries. Mansukh Mandaviya is the new Minister of Health and Family Welfare. He was honoured by UNICEF for his contribution to the cause of women's menstrual hygiene by using the chain of Jan Aushadhi Kendras to sell 10 crore sanitary pads made with oxo-biodegradable technology at a nominal price. Dr. Bharati Pawar, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare (equivalent to deputy minister) has an MBBS degree in Surgery.
Other ministers with notable qualifications include Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Railways, Minister of communication and Minister of Electronics and Information and Technology. He graduated with a gold medal in an electronic and communications engineering course and completed his M.Tech from IIT Kanpur, before cracking IAS in 1994 with an all-India rank of 27. He did his MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, USA.
Dharmendra Pradhan who earlier served as Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel is the new Minister of Education and Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Jyotiraditya Scindia who shifted from Congress to BJP last year which led to the fall of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh became the Minister of Civil Aviation.
A new ministry, the Ministry of Cooperation was created before the cabinet reshuffle and expansion. According to a media release by the government, the Ministry of Cooperation will provide a separate administrative legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country. The Ministry will work to streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business’ for co-operatives and enable development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS). Home Minister Amit Shah got the additional charge of the Ministry of Cooperation. With a new strengthened cabinet, it has to be seen how the council of ministers work towards the development of the country.
This article has been written by Harsh Battulwar for The Paradigm
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