There are some new and interesting names in the appointments announced this evening for India’s new government after eleven days of haggling (for today’s earlier post click here).
They indicate a new constructive approach, driven by prime minister Manmohan Singh, especially on commerce and industry, education, the environment, and highways. (Click here for full list).
Four are specially notable:
ANAND SHARMA, minister for commerce and industry – on a big and surprise promotion, having previously been minister of state in external affairs and information, he is likely to take a less combative stance over WTO negotiations than his predecessor, Kamal Nath – and be a more straightforward, and maybe caring, economic liberaliser. He is also a Congress Party spokesman.
KAMAL NATH, minister for road transport and highways – previously commerce and industry minister, so this is definitely not a promotion, in fact it looks the reverse – but the sector needs tough action to revive stalled highway construction, and he has the political strength to do it.
KAPIL SIBAL, minister for human resource development – a good promotion and appointment (suggested on this blog) for this top lawyer who was previously minister for science and technology where he applied himself with the commitment that India’s dilapidated education system needs. Also a Congress spokesman.
JAIRAM RAMESH, minister of state (with independent charge) for environment and forests – previously in industry and power, and a top party adviser, he is likely to break the track record of many of his predecessors and bring in straightforward policies aimed primarily at streamlining environmental controls, instead of pursuing other agendas. He might be tough resisting international demands on climate change.
MURLI DEORA, remains minister for petroleum and natural gas;
AMBIKA SONI, a Gandhi family confidante becomes minister for information and broadcasting;
A. RAJA remains minister for communications and information technology despite the prime minister’s wish not to give him any job at all;
SHASHI THAROOR, former top United Nations official who failed to get the secretary general’s job, is a minister of state in the ministry of external affairs;
SALMAN KHURSHEED, a minister in the 1980s and 1990s, and former Uttar Pradesh party chief, returns to the central government with double tasks as minister of state (with independent charge) for corporate affairs (he is a lawyer) and minorities;
PRAFUL PATEL remains minister of state (with independent charge) for civil aviation, despite the sector’s problems.
And Surprising – and Expected:
S.M.KRISHNA – a surprising choice as minister for external affairs, announced last weekend, he is an almost forgotten 78-year old former chief minister of Karnataka. He is credited with building up Bangalore, Karnataka’s state capital and IT centre, in the 1990s, but it is difficult to see him building much respect or access abroad – and, given his age, will not want to travel much.
MAMATA BANERJEE, leader of the West Bengal Trinamool Congress that routed the state’s communist-led Left Front in the election, was a shoe-in for railways minister last weekend. She showed her priorities are to defeat the communists in 2011 assembly polls when she broke with tradition earlier this week and took over her ministry from an office in Kolkata, not the Delhi headquarters. She said would “give little time to Delhi” and announced railway goodies for West Bengal.