As many as 43 leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Narayan Rane and Sarbananda Sonowal, on Wednesday took oath as part of the Cabinet expansion of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government. The carefully calibrated exercise was undertaken keeping in view the Assembly elections scheduled for next year in several states and to balance the alliance arithmetic with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind.
In this exercise, 36 new faces have been included, while seven current ministers of state have been promoted and included in the Cabinet. These include Hardeep Singh Puri, R.K. Singh, Anurag Thakur, Kiren Rijiju, G. Kishan Reddy, Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala.
Eight new faces were also given the status of cabinet ministers. Allies were also made ministers in this reshuffle. For the first time, R.C.P. Singh from Janata Dal United was made minister and Pashupati Paras from the Lok Janshakti Party was made minister. Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal was made minister.
Among the important portfolios allocated are that of Union Home Minister Amit Shah who has been given charge of the newly-created Ministry of Cooperation. He will also handle the charge of the ministries of Culture and Tourism and Development of North East.
The most notable inclusion has been Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress and joined the BJP in March last year. Sarbananda Sonowal and Narayan Rane, two former chief ministers, have been inducted into the Union Cabinet, too. Meanwhile, Hardeep Singh Puri, Kiren Rijiju and Mansukh Mandaviya also took oath as ministers. Hardeep Singh Puri has been given charge of the ministries of Urban Housing and Petroleum. Jyotiraditya Scindia has been made Minister of Civil Aviation. Pashupati Paras is now Minister for Food Processing. Kiren Rijiju has become the Minister of Law and Justice. Mansukh Mandaviya has been given charge of the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.
Dharmendra Pradhan will take charge as Minister for Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Aswhini Vaishnaw is now Union Minister for Information Technology (IT) and Railways. Union Minister for Commerce Piyush Goyal is being given additional charge of the Ministry of Textiles. He also holds additional charge of the ministries of Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution. Smriti Irani will be the minister in charge of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD). She will be assisted by MoS Dr Munjapara Mahendrabhai. Purshottam Rupala has been given charge of the Ministry of Dairy and Fisheries. Meenakshi Lekhi is now Minister of State (MoS) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Anurag Thakur has been given charge of Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, along with Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. Giriraj Singh will take charge of the Ministry of Rural Development. Bhupender Yadav has been given charge of the Labour Ministry and Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Before the reshuffle and expansion, President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignations of 12 ministers, including Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Sadananda Gowda, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar, and Santosh Kumar Gangwar.
According to a release from the President’s Secretariat, “On the suggestion of the Prime Minister, the President of India has accepted the resignation of 12 members of the Council of Ministers with immediate effect.” According to a release quoting the President’s Press Secretary, the ministers whose resignations have been accepted include Sadananda Gowda, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Thaawarchand Gehlot, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Prakash Javadekar, and Santosh Kumar Gangwar.
Several other ministers, including Babul Supriyo, Debasree Chaudhuri, Rattan Lal Kataria, Sanjay Dhotre, Pratap Chandra Sarangi (MoS) and Ashwini Chaubey (MoS), also tendered their resignation.
Ravi Shankar Prasar was in-charge of the Ministry of Information Technology along with the Ministry of Law, while Javadekar was in charge of the Ministry of Environment as well as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In the swearing-in ceremony, President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office and secrecy to all 43 members included in the Council of Ministers in a ceremony held at the Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Apart from Prime Minister Modi, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Defense Speaker General Bipin Rawat and many other dignitaries were present on the occasion. After starting his second term as Prime Minister in May 2019 with 57 ministers, Prime Minister Modi has reshuffled and expanded the Union Council of Ministers for the first time.
The average age of the new council of ministers has reduced to 58 years from 61 years previously following the Cabinet reshuffle. Nisith Pramanik (35), the Lok Sabha MP from West Bengal›s Cooch Behar, is the youngest minister to be sworn in, while the oldest member in the council of ministers is 72-year-old Som Parkash. Other ministers below 50 years of age are: Smriti Irani (45), Kiren Rijiju (49), Mansukh Mandaviya (49), Kailash Choudhary (47), Sanjeev Balyan (49), Anurag Thakur (46), Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar (42), Anupriya Singh Patel (40), Shantanu Thakur (38), John Barla (45) and Dr L. Murugan (44).
There are 77 members in the council of ministers now. Soon after the ceremony, PM Modi tweeted congratulating the new ministers. “I congratulate all the colleagues who have taken oath today and wish them the very best for their ministerial tenure. We will continue working to fulfill the aspirations of the people and build a strong and prosperous India,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted after the ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
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PRESIDENT MURMU HAILS INDIA’S ACHIEVEMENTS IN TACKLING COVID-19
Appreciating India’s response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, President Droupadi Murmu, in her maiden address to the nation, said that India’s achievements in combating the pandemic have been better than those of many developed countries.
“The world has seen a new India rising in recent years, more so after the outbreak of Covid-19. Our response to the pandemic has been appreciated everywhere. We launched the biggest vaccination drive in human history with vaccines manufactured in the country itself. Last month we crossed the 200-crore mark in cumulative vaccine coverage. In combating the pandemic, our achievements have been better than those of many developed countries. For this feat, we are grateful to our scientists, doctors, nurses, paramedics and the staff associated with vaccination,” said President Murmu in her address to the nation.
INDUSTRIALISTS, MARKET EXPERTS MOURN JHUNJHUNWALA’S DEMISE
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, market experts, and industrialists Gautam Adani and Ratan Tata paid tributes to veteran stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala on Sunday. Market experts also mourned the demise of the 62-year-old ace investor and said that his strong belief in the country›s growth story and «unshakeable» confidence in markets made him one of a kind. Jhunjhunwala passed away on Sunday morning in Mumbai. His net worth was US$ 5.8 billion (about Rs 46,000 crore), according to Forbes.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called Jhunjhunwala a bold risk taker and remembered her conversations with the late stock investor. «Jhunjhunwala is no more. Investor, bold risk taker, masterly understanding of the stock market, clear in communication- a leader in his own right. Fondly remember several conversations we had. He had strong belief in India’s strength and capabilities. Condolences,» she said. Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, «He was a symbol of India›s entrepreneurial spirit. I believe the things he had achieved and established will be a source of inspiration for thousands of youth.»
Adani tweeted, «Extremely saddened by the untimely passing away of the most legendary investor that India has had. Jhunjhunwala inspired an entire generation to believe in our equity markets with his brilliant views. We will miss him. India will miss him but we will never forget him. RIP.»
Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group, said, «Jhunjhunwala, who sadly passed away this morning, will always be remembered for his acute understanding of the stock exchanges of India. He will also be remembered for his jovial personality, his kindness, and his foresightedness. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family which has to share the burden of this great loss.» Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath tweeted, «There will never again be someone like you, RIP.»
1,082 POLICE PERSONNEL GIVEN MEDALS
On Independence Day, 1,082 police personnel from CAPFs and state forces have been awarded various categories of service medals, including for gallant action, as per an official statement on Sunday.
The decorations include 347 police medals for gallantry (PMG), 87 President’s police medals for distinguished service, and 648 police medals for meritorious service.
Out of the 347 gallantry awards, 204 personnel are being awarded for their gallant action in Jammu and Kashmir, 80 for displaying bravery in Left Wing Extremism or Naxal violence-affected areas, and 14 personnel for showing bravery in North-East Region, the Union home ministry said.
The maximum gallantry medals at 109 have been received by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) followed by 108 to the J&K Police, 19 to the Border Security Force (BSF) and six each to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
Among the state police forces, 42 gallantry medals have been given to Maharashtra, 15 to Chhattisgarh among other forces and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).
As PM pays homage on Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, Congress reacts
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday paid homage to all the people who lost their lives during the partition of India and Pakistan. The Congress alleged that the real intent of PM Modi to mark 14 August as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day is to use the traumatic events as fodder for his current political battles.
PM Modi tweeted, “Today, on #PartitionHorrorsRemembranceDay, I pay homage to all those who lost their lives during partition, and applaud the resilience as well as grit of all those who suffered during that tragic period of our history.”
Congress general secretary, communications, Jairam Ramesh said that the tragedy of partition, cannot be misused to fuel hate and prejudice.
He said the politics of hate will be defeated and the Congress will continue its efforts to unite India while upholding the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
“The real intent of PM to mark 14 August as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day is to use the most traumatic historical events as fodder for his current political battles. Lakhs upon lakhs were dislocated and lost their lives. Their sacrifices must not be forgotten or disrespected,” Ramesh said in a series of tweets.
The Congress leader asked, “Will the PM also recall today Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, the founder of the Jan Sangh, who championed the Partition of Bengal against the wishes of Sarat Chandra Bose, and who sat in free India›s first Cabinet while the tragic consequences of Partition were becoming evident?”.
Alleging that the “modern-day Savarkars and Jinnahs” are continuing their efforts to divide the nation, Ramesh said the Indian National Congress will uphold the legacy of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and many others who were untiring in their efforts to unite the nation.
“The politics of hate will be defeated,” he asserted.
“The tragedy of partition cannot be misused to fuel hate and prejudice. The truth is Savarkar originated the two-nation theory and Jinnah perfected it. Sardar Patel wrote, ‹I felt that if we did not accept partition, India would be split into many bits and would be completely ruined›,” he also said.
PM Modi had last year announced that 14 August will be observed as ‹Partition Horrors Remembrance Day› to remind the nation of the sufferings and sacrifices of Indians during the partition in 1947.
“Partition›s pains can never be forgotten. Millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence. In memory of the struggles and sacrifices of our people, 14 August will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day,” PM Modi had said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday inaugurated an exhibition on the theme ‹Horrors of Partition› at the Parliament Library Building. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Union Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy were among the leaders present.
SIX DELHI POLICE PERSONNEL GET HOME MINISTER’S MEDAL
Six officers and personnel of the Delhi Police received Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation on Saturday.
As per the official, Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjay Dutt and Inspector Anuj Kumar Tyagi received the award for their investigation of a drug trafficking case in which they caught Amandeep Singh and Harpreet Singh with 25 kg of mephedrone and methamphetamine. Later, the accused Harvinder Singh was extradited from London in 2021. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Deepak Yadav and S.I. Muneesh Kumar, who probed the case of extortion calls made to Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra, last year are among the medallists.
In this case, five people were arrested. The accused claimed that they had some incriminating video clips and had demanded Rs 2 crore from the minister. The minister was threatened when he was in the news after his son was arrested in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, in which eight people, including four farmers, were killed.
Inspector Sanjay Kumar Gupta has also been conferred with the medal for breaking a nexus of gangsters in the city. In 2018, a case was registered against gangster Gogi, for running an organised crime syndicate in Delhi and Haryana, which was investigated by Special Cell. 15 members of the gang, including Gogi, were booked and as many as five charge sheets were filed. Assets and properties worth more than Rs 15 crore were also attached. Later, Gogi was murdered.
DCP R.P. Meena who investigated a case registered in 2021 in which a huge quantity (approx. 25kg) of gold was stolen from a jewellery showroom also received the award.
PAPER LEAK: UTTARAKHAND POLICE ARREST 18 SO FAR
With the arrest of State District Panchayat member Hakam Singh, the Uttarakhand Police has arrested 18 persons so far in connection with the Uttarakhand Subordinate Services Selection Commission (UKSSSC) paper leak case.
Speaking to ANI, SSP Ajay Singh of the Special Task Force of the Uttarakhand Police said, «State District Panchayat member Hakam Singh has been arrested in the graduate level exam question paper leak case conducted by the Uttarakhand Subordinate Services Selection Commission. This is the 18th arrest in the case.» Singh was caught from the Mori area near the Himachal Pradesh border. The Zilla Panchayat member was stopped at Arakot Chowki. Hakam Singh returned to the country from a trip abroad on 7 August.
Taking stern action in the state Subordinate Services Selection Commission paper leak controversy, the Uttarakhand government on Sunday removed the secretary of the commission.
According to the information received from the Secretariat, PCS officer Shalini Negi has been made the Controller of Examinations and Surender Rawat, Joint Secretary, Secretariat Services, has been made secretary in the commission.
After the disclosure of irregularities in the recruitment of various examinations of the Subordinate Commission, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami instructed strict action, after which the STF has so far arrested 18 accused. On 22 July, this year a case was registered in the paper leak case at Raipur Police Station. It is being investigated by the STF.
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