By Meghana Rathore:
“The hands that rock the cradle, rule the world.”
In an interesting overhaul, the allocation of portfolios in BJP’s cabinet has made it pretty clear that if not the world, the reign of this nation is in those hands for the next few years now. The women team in Modi’s cabinet has been under media’s glare for a while now. It’s really overwhelming that 6 out of the 24 cabinet ministers that is 25% of the cabinet veterans are women. Moreover, they are holding some very prominent and socially relevant positions. It is to be seen whether they would be able to purge and alchemise the conditions pertaining to their respective departments and prove their mettle as cabinet ministers. But nevertheless, their being there in such a huge chunk is a victory in itself.
Let’s have a look at these new entrants and what awaits them on the political front.
Smriti Zubin Irani:
This actress turned BJP leader has been anointed as the new HRD minister, which turned out to be quite controversial and not very well received by some people. The ministry of Human Resource Development is by far the most crucial department as the nation is in dire need of better implementation of education reforms scheme. Right to Education might be there in decree but its implementation has been quite appalling. 95% of the schools in India do not qualify to RTE standards. With a dozen draft bills that still need to be passed in the parliament, the HRD ministry presents a sad state. More than 12 million youth enter the job market every year and most of them are unemployed. The previous HRD ministers have failed to deliver on various fronts. It’s time for Smriti Irani to take up the challenge.
Sushma Swaraj was allotted the most politically relevant department, which is the department of External Affairs. She is the first woman to be a part of the Cabinet Committee on Security since Indira Gandhi. Sushma Swaraj has been a very prominent leader who has performed really well in the past. Today, when India’s position across the globe is relatively strong, it will be testing times for her diplomacy skills. Also, handling fragile issues like Indo-China border issues and India’s ever evolving and changing relationships with Pakistan would be in her goalpost.
Uma Bharti, another major BJP veteran has been appointed to the post of Minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation. Well, it’s been the legacy of past ministers to turn a blind eye to environment related issues. The Ganga action Plan that was launched as a drive to clean Ganga and reduce its pollution by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 did not fare well at all. In fact, the river is more polluted today than when the plan was launched. So, clearing the waters of the Ganges and the other rivers across the landscape of India would be a major task at hand.
Maneka Gandhi, has been allotted the Ministry of women and child development. Women and children comprise of two-thirds of our human resources. They are the most crucial and sadly the most neglected group. Issues like malnutrition, bonded labour, illiteracy, and health issues still plague the children of our nation. Moreover, events in the recent past clearly suggest that women’s safety needs to be addressed immediately and is the prime concern and expectations from this department at the moment. Women empowerment and hygiene issues too need immediate attention.
Hasmirat Kaur Badal:
She has been made the Minister for food processing Industries and she will be responsible for developing the vibrant industry and also for creation of more jobs in the rural sector. Lack of adequate infrastructure is one of the major challenges that the Indian food processing Industry faces. It can drive the economy of India to a whole new level if properly taken care of.
Dr. Najma A. Heptulla:
One of the most important and challenging ministry that is, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has been allotted to Najma Heptulla. After having been anointed as the Minister for Minority Affairs, she said “We have to work harder as people have become very hopeful now. We have to bridge the development gap. I will look at the priorities of the ministry. I will also talk to Modi and seek his suggestions.”Also expressing her aversiveness towards reservations she said “Development is a solution not reservation. We have to compete with educational and economic backwardness”. Misappropriation of minority funds as pointed out by the Sachar Committee is one of the major challenges facing the ministry. Also, sad state of employment and education issues among the Muslim population In India needs to be addressed too. It will be a big and challenge, and probably the most imperative one, for Modi’s government to conciliate the minority population.
So, let’s see how these cabinet veterans fare in their tenure and let’s hope they set a bunch of other benchmarks of having delivered well in their respective departments after having set one by being appointed to their respective positions.