Health and pharma have been allocated to the same cabinet minister to bring critically needed synergy between the two wings in the middle of a raging pandemic. The new health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, has been in the core Covid response team over the past year. He had ensured a regular flow of life-saving drugs and brings continuity and hands-on experience. The cabinet minister is complemented with a junior minister who is a tribal woman and practising doctor, and has on-ground experience in fighting malnutrition and ensuring clean water in remote areas.
Education is a priority area for the government and a powerful team has been put in place to implement the PM’s grand vision of overhauling the country’s educational landscape, powered by the globally acclaimed National Education Policy. An academician and technocrat junior minister has also been placed to help roll out important initiatives.
As India and the world emerge from the devastating impact of the pandemic, different ministers will work in tandem to help steer the economy out of the Covid-induced slump. It will be supported by infrastructure ministries such as the railways, aviation, highways, power, petroleum, urban development.
The rejig also saw major technology departments being brought together under a single minister (Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Space and Atomic Energy) to ensure coordination and convergence and that too, kept directly connected to the PM, with the minister also serving as a junior minister in the PMO.
Other technology-driver ministries have been entrusted to professional and technocrats (MEITY, Communication). Ashwini Vaishnaw, a former IAS officer of the 1994 batch, an M Tech from IIT Kanpur as well as an MBA from Wharton, has been entrusted with the crucial information and technology ministry along with railways.
The reshuffle also saw ministerial capabilities matched to the requirements of a particular ministry. Doctors have been placed in key ministries such as health, AYUSH, finance, science and technology, WCD and animal husbandry. Technocrats and management professionals are in key delivery portfolios across the economy – finance, commerce and industry, textiles, communications, electronics and IT, infrastructure – railways, aviation, highways, power, petroleum, urban engineers in electronics and IT, communications, Jal Shakti, new and renewable energy and DONER.
Lawyers have been put in charge in law and justice, corporate affairs, MEA, labour, environment, defence, MSME and heavy industries. Academics have been placed in education. .
Tribal Affairs is now manned with leaders from 3 key tribes (Munda, Gond, Santhal) as well as a woman, for bringing in important perspective. Social Justice and Empowerment is now led by leaders from 4 major communities across SCs and OBCs (Khatik, Mahar, Madiga, Nat) ensuring voice of South India and women.
Women and Child Development has ministers with field experience working amongst women and children.