Major Reshuffle in Modi’s Cabinet
- PM Narendra Modi has inducted 19 news ministers in his Cabinet and carried out a reshuffle of the portfolios of his ministers.
- Minister of State Prakash Javadekar to cabinet rank and sent him to replace Smriti Irani in the Human Resource Development Ministry, while also making changes in key portfolios like law, communications and parliamentary affairs.
- V. Sadananda Gowda of Karnataka as Law Minister and gave the responsibility to Ravi Shankar Prasad. Gowda has been moved to the ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
- The five Ministers of State (MoS) who were dropped were Sanwar Lal Jat (Water Resources), Nihalchand (Panchayati Raj), Ram Shankar Katheria (HRD), Mansukh Bhai Vasava (Tribal Affairs) and Mohanbhai Kundaria (Agriculture).
- The major portfolios of Rajnath Singh (Home Affairs), Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs), Arun Jaitley (Finance) and Manohar Parrikar (Defence) remained untouched while senior ministers Nitin Gadkari (Road Transport, Highways and Shipping) and Suresh Prabhu (Railways) have retained their earlier assignments.
- Modi’s choice reflects craving for faster results in priority areas like education, rural sector, sanitation, broadband connectivity, etc. With the government approaching the halfway mark, delivery in thrust areas will be key.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Heads to Africa
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to the Africa tour seeking to boost country’s economic influence in a region long dominated by rival Asian power China.
- Modi will first visit Mozambique, marking the first visit by an Indian prime minister in 34 years, before travelling on to South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.
- India has been working to develop ties with African nations as it vies for a greater share of the continent’s natural resources. Last year, it hosted a major summit of the Africa’s heads of state in New Delhi.
- India’s economic position in Africa has been overshadowed by that of China, whose trade with the continent topped $200 billion last year which is more than the GDP of the 30 smallest African economies combined.
- Currently, India is South Africa’s sixth largest trade partner, with two-way trade reaching $5.3 billion in 2015-16.
- Neither India nor any African country has a stable seat in the UN Security council, which is made up of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
Stunning Rise and a Sudden demotion of Smriti Irani
- PM Modi’s decision to appoint Smriti Irani as the Human Resources Development minister had taken the Indian politics by surprise.
- Irani Congress scion Rahul Gandhi a scare on his home turf of Amethi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
- Her hostility over contentious issues, most notably the one over the confrontation in Jawaharlal Nehru University, and combativeness towards leading members of the “secular commentariat”, only enhanced her stock within the Sangh Parivar as a whole, and even sparked speculation that she could be projected as BJP’s choice for UP chief minister.
- HRD ministry and Niti Aayog were locked in a bitter battle about issues like accreditation and other issues which was perceived as interference and was made clear to senior Aayog officials.
- The IIM bill remains in midway because of a long standing argument with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The HRD ministry’s take was that the government needed to have some say in running of IIMs, just the way it is the case with IITs but the PMO had other ideas.
- Irani had been trying to turn a new leaf by being agreeable, but her temperamental nature had already done enough damage. Many ministry officials who were unceremoniously removed, and others who were given low grades in annual confidential reports to VCs.