By Onkar Nath:
The Prime minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh has struck a right cord by reshuffling the ministers’ portfolios and inducting new faces into the cabinet. As a citizen of this country, I am quite happy about the recent development brought about by the United Progressive Alliance 2 (UPA2) government and especially Dr Manmohan Singh. He has injected a ray of hope into industries by opening multi-brand retailing, civil aviation and the broadcast sectors.
The next step was the cabinet reshuffle. Now post the reshuffle, it is very clear that all the important portfolios (in terms of infrastructure and economic ministries) are under the Congress except the Agriculture ministry. At least, I now expect that the UPA 2 will not give any excuse of a coalition compulsion before making important decisions.
Coming back to the reshuffle, I was very happy to hear that young faces had been introduced and were given independent charge of their ministries. The Ministry of Power, Information and Broadcasting, Corporate Affairs, Youth Affairs and Sports, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation can be cited as examples. If you consider the age of the ministers who are holding these ministries, you will find that all of them are under 50. I see this reshuffle as a positive signal for the young people involved in politics and for those who are planning to join politics. This indicates that handling the affairs of the country is not only meant for the aged and the so-called veteran politicians.
The most attention grabbing move by Dr Manmohan Singh was to appoint Salman Khurshid as the Foreign Minister of India. In this case, I completely agree that this post should always go to someone who is mature, highly experienced and a diplomat. Mr Krishna was definitely doing a good job but was ageing. Salman Khurshid is around 21 years younger than Mr Krishna and is not new to the world of international diplomacy. During the Prime Ministership of P.V. Narsimha Rao, Mr Khurshid was Minister of State for External Affairs and thus has a grip on diplomacy. He had already proved his mettle by promoting India’s Look East Policy during the 90s. Few political analysts feel that Mr Khurshid was a genuine candidate in the UPA 2 (since 2009) to handle the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is a lawyer by profession and has an impressive pedigree where his father was the first Muslim cabinet minister and his grandfather was the former President of India. Before becoming the Foreign Minister of India, he was in-charge of Law ministry. He is known for his eloquence and erudition. These are the qualities that are needed when have to handle neighbours like China and Pakistan who are known to be volatile.
I think his biggest challenge for Mr Khurshid will be to form a harmonious relation with neighbours like Pakistan and China. He has to prove his ability in terms of plotting India’s role in Afghanistan in the international arena. Within the next 1-2 years, a lot of major changes will happen around the world, for instance the leadership change in China, the Presidential elections in the USA, elections in Pakistan, Afghanistan and in Bangladesh. It is quite evident that the very first ministry to absorb these changes is the Foreign Affairs Ministry of any country. So, the job of Mr Khurshid is tough but given his ability and credibility, we hope that he will sail through. In fact he has a very limited amount of time i.e. 1 and a half years before the general elections take place in India. So here’s wishing Mr Khurshid good luck.