Stragglers

first_imgFlightless birdP Ashok Gajapati Raju64, Minister for Civil AviationDuring NDA-I (1998-2004), civil aviation was a clear focus area. It laid down clear policies favouring the entry of private airlines and private players in airport building. The UPA government kept up the policy momentum to fuel a boom in domestic air,Flightless birdP Ashok Gajapati Raju64, Minister for Civil AviationDuring NDA-I (1998-2004), civil aviation was a clear focus area. It laid down clear policies favouring the entry of private airlines and private players in airport building. The UPA government kept up the policy momentum to fuel a boom in domestic air travel. Under NDA-II, civil aviation seems to have gone into retreat, with the civil aviation ministry appearing rudderless under Raju. The opportunities are huge. India’s civil aviation market is one of the fastest growing in the world: it grew by 28 per cent last year. A 70 per cent drop in aviation fuel prices saw even Air India post a small profit this year. But the state-owned airline continues to yield market share to more nimble rivals such as IndiGo. The continued neglect of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation is also cause for concern. by Sandeep Unnithan Also read:#TwoYearsofModi: Prime Minister’s governance record scuffed but intact #TwoYearsofModi: Meet the Panchratna #TwoYearsofModi: The good guys #TwoYearsofModi: The so-so performers  Anant Geete. Photo: Yasbant NegiLacking industryAnant Geete64, Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises of IndiaWhat could have been a transformational ministry for the Modi government has been relegated to the back-burner. There was an expectation that efforts would be made either to exit loss-making public sector enterprises or a credible strategy would be put in place to turn them around. However, in a meeting with journalists in January, Geete admitted that of the 32 PSUs under his ministry, 12 were running losses, and attempts to give heavy industries the much-needed push have been lackadaisical at best. Maharatna Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited alone accounts for 85 per cent of total turnover and 55 per cent of total manpower of all PSEs under the ministry, which has been running into losses. One of the goals stated by the ministry are to make PSEs self-reliant and profit-making. Clearly, Geete is far away from that stated goal.by Shweta Punj with Kiran TareadvertisementRadha Mohan SinghCome a cropperRadha Mohan Singh66, Minister for AgricultureBeing India’s agriculture minister through two consecutive drought years can’t be easy. Singh is also under pressure from the PMO to project an even more ‘farmer-friendly’ face than the UPA. After the spectacular failure of the Soil Health Card Scheme and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Singh is placing his bets on the Fasal Bima Yojana, which he says will be a game-changer for farm economics and politics.by Piyush BabeleBandaru Dattatreya. Photo: Yasbant NegiLabouring onBandaru Dattatreya69, Minister for Labour and EmploymentThe inability of the government to push through labour reforms is hanging like an albatross around its neck. The government was left red-faced when it was forced to roll back the Budget proposal to tax EPF withdrawals. The ministry has also been working on consolidating India’s archaic labour laws, all 44 of them, into four codes: wage, industrial relations, social security and safety and working conditions. Consultations on two codes, wage and industrial relations, are over and they are now with the law ministry. Meanwhile, states have gone ahead and taken the lead in pushing through reforms which form the core of ease of doing business. States such as Rajasthan allows companies employing up to 300 staffers to lay off workers without taking government approval. On the jobs data put out by the labour bureau, the ministry is working on expanding the scope of labour-intensive sectors from the current eight. The new methodology is likely to be out by July this year.by Shweta PunjJP Nadda. Photo: Yasbant NegiHealthy regardJP Nadda55, Minister for HealthFar too little funds and far too many unfinished plans left a long to-do list: 17 new AIIMS and 20 cancer institutes, nationwide insurance schemes, new technology for hospitals or National Health Assurance Mission. Instead of the grand plans, the minister focused on the incremental, the familiar and the modest. Meanwhile, pharma firms hiked the cost of essential medicines, a series of scams exposed the corruption in medical education, medical entrance exams came under a cloud, and tainted doctors made a backdoor comeback to the Medical Council of India. All this raised questions on the seriousness of the Modi government’s promises on health. But cool, quiet and unflappable Mr Nadda-dubbed “master strategist” by his peers-busy with assembly elections in Kerala, just carried on.by Damayanti Datta Chaudhary Birender SinghVillage voiceChaudhary Birender Singh70, Minister for Rural DevelopmentInducted into the Narendra Modi cabinet after the November 2014 assembly polls, Birender Singh, the BJP’s seniormost Jat leader in Haryana, has taken flak for the NDA government’s about-turns on the Land Acquisition Bill and NREGA after Modi had declared it a “failed” scheme. Singh claims that even though the UPA started them, “it is the NDA that is making these schemes operational and transparent.”by Piyush BabeleadvertisementUnMSMErisedKalraj Mishra74, Minister for MSMEKalraj Mishra is an old and experienced BJP hand, but none of the big-ticket MSME initiatives, which featured prominently in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election speeches of 2014, have got off the ground. The exit policy promised for sick MSME units, for example, has not seen the light of day. Nor has the MSME Bank. Nor even the plan to revive ailing units in the sector. On the plus side, Mishra may be credited with simplifying the MSME registration process, now reportedly done within five minutes, and the turnaround of brand Khadi.by Santosh Kumar Sadanand GowdaCourting disasterSadanand Gowda63, Minister for Law and JusticeJust as he was transferred from the railways to the law and justice ministry in November 2014, a now legendary battle started brewing between the judiciary and the government over who would appoint the judges in the higher judiciary. A hundred jurists locked horns for months in 2015 before a five-judge bench-to debate what was constitutional, and what political, and where the lines blurred. With the judiciary rejecting the 99th constitutional amendment and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), the government faced a resounding defeat. The shock of it eclipsed law minister Gowda’s first year. His biggest contribution has been to focus on the National Litigation Policy, to reduce government litigation by taking appropriate steps at the pre-litigation stage. by Damayanti DattaMahesh Sharma. Photo: Vikram SharmaCulture heavyMahesh Sharma56, MoS (independent charge) for Culture and Tourism and Civil AviationAs culture and tourism minister, Sharma tells India Today, his biggest achievements are e-visas for tourists and e-ticketing facilities in ASI monuments. The minister has been more in the news for his “threat to impose Indian values and cleanse cultural institutions”. In his words, he has been able to “cleanse” several institutes by “offering [a] facelift in activities, ambience and presentability”. But his critics will point out that the “facelift” is primarily about appointing as heads of institutes individuals happy to toe the party’s ideological line. Two very significant steps taken by the culture and tourism ministry are to digitise and conserve historical documents and to manage a databank of artists and artisans.As MoS for Civil Aviation, Mahesh Sharma will take heart from the Rs 6 crore operating profit Air India has finally made after a decade. by Kaushik DekaSarbananda Sonowal. Photo: Yasbant NegiPoor sportSarbananda Sonowal53, Minister for Sports and Youth AffairsHis ministry has a programme to support athletes with Olympic prospects, which, thanks to bureaucratic myopia, doesn’t work. For instance, badminton player Parupalli Kashyap, who had been nursing an injury, was sent an air ticket by the ministry to play in the South Asian Games in Assam in February when Kashyap wanted to rest and recover for the Olympics. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive to me is simple: sports and sportspersons must be kept away from any hurdle, including politics,” he says, by way of explanation. by Kaushik Dekaadvertisementlast_img read more