Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced his new cabinet, which includes Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veterans such as Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari and at least one surprise pick, former foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Mr Modi was sworn in 30Th May along with 58 members of his new government. But their portfolios were only announced on 31s tMay.

Here are five takeaways from Mr Modi’s new cabinet.

There is one surprising choice – and many unsurprising ones

A 64-year-old retired bureaucrat – well-known for his crucial role in India’s foreign policy under Mr Modi – has become the new foreign minister.

And this is unusual – cabinet posts are highly coveted and tend to go to party loyalists or important coalition allies. Rarely does a bureaucrat make the cut.

But Mr Jaishankar’s is no ordinary resume – a career diplomat, he has served as India’s ambassador to both the US and China, among other countries

He is widely considered a tough negotiator and is credited with diffusing tensions with China in 2017 over the Doklam plateau, a border standoff that lasted several weeks.

He also played a major role in brokering the historic India-US nuclear deal during the prime ministership of Manmohan Singh. In fact, Mr Singh, who attended the swearing-in ceremony, was one of the fist people to congratulate him as he stepped off the stage after taking the oath.

Apart from Mr Jaishankar, the other appointments were largely expected.

The biggest one involved Amit Shah, a close aide of Mr Modi since his early days in politics, who has been made the home minister. Speculation had been rife and, as it turns out, right.

Mr Shah’s appointment only formalises what has long been talked about – the 54-year-old BJP president is the most influential politician in the party after Mr Modi.

 

 

He’s seen as the man who scripted the BJP’s thumping wins in 2014 and 2019 – and who helped the party make inroads in states such as West Bengal where they barely had a presence earlier.

There were some notable exceptions

Modi 2.0, as it has been dubbed by the Indian media, lost two veteran politicians in former finance minister Arun Jaitley and former foreign minister Sushma Swaraj who opted out because of poor health.

But some key figures from the previous administration were also dropped – such as Maneka Gandhi, an estranged member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, who was a minister in four different BJP governments and the minister for women and child development during Mr Modi’s first term.

 

 

Former civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha is also missing from the new cabinet. He is the son of a former BJP minister, Yashwant Sinha, who has been critical of Mr Modi’s government in recent months.

Its men, men and more men

More women have been elected to India’s 545-member lower house or Lok Sabha this time than ever before.

There are now 77 female MPs, but just six have become ministers, and only three of them have been given cabinet posts.

Former defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is now in-charge of finance, becoming only the second woman to hold the post after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

 

The other two are Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his family seat of Amethi, and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, member of BJP’s regional ally Shiromani Akali Dal.

A bill to reserve 33% of seats in the parliament for women has been languishing for 20 years.

The new cabinet is largely upper caste – and has few ministers from the south

Nine of the 25 new cabinet ministers are Brahmins, who are at the top of India’s tenacious caste hierarchy.

Despite the fact that 131 seats in the Lok Sabha are reserved for members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who are among the country’s most vulnerable communities, only 10 of them have been appointed ministers. Even fewer made it to the cabinet.

Only three of the cabinet ministers – Ms Seetharaman, Mr Jaishankar and Sadanand Gowda – are from India’s five southern states, which send 119 MPs to parliament.

One Muslim made the ranks

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the BJP’s only Muslim minister, is an MP from the upper house or Rajya Saha, which is not directly elected. A long-time member of the BJP, he has been a minister in the previous government too but this is his first cabinet post. He has been appointed minister of minority affairs.

This should not be too surprising since the new Lok Sabha has just 26 Muslim MPs – three more than in 2014. The BJP contested 437 seats but only fielded seven Muslim candidates. And none of them won.

Thirty two of the main opposition Congress party’s 423 candidates were Muslim – only four of them won.

Muslim political representation in India’s parliament has been steadily falling. While the community’s population in India has more than doubled from 68 million in 1981 to 172 million in 2011, the number of Muslim MPs has nearly halved from 49 in 1980 to 22 in 2014.

 

UPDATED: MAY 31, 2019 23:49 IST

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, with newly sworn cabinet ministers greet the invitees at the end of the swearing in ceremony at the forecourt of presidential palace in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 30, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AP

Defence goes to Rajnath and former diplomat Jaishankar is the new External Affairs Minister.

The contours of the new Modi government were clear after portfolios were announced for the Union Council of Ministers, with BJP national president Amit Shah being allotted the Home Ministry and former Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar being made the External Affairs Minister. Both new faces immediately also became members of the Cabinet Committee on Security, the most powerful Cabinet sub-committee.

Former Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be the new Finance Minister and former Home Minister Rajnath Singh will take over as the Defence Minister.

 

Change at the top

Prime Minister Modi has made bold changes in the top four Ministries that form the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), with Mr. Jaishankar being the biggest gainer, having joined the government as a Cabinet Minister and inducted straight into the CCS. However, many other Ministers have retained their portfolios from the first Modi government, with some being given additional departments.

Senior Minister Nitin Gadkari continues as the Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Ravi Shankar Prasad stays on as the Law Minister, along with Information Technology and Telecommunications.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal retains charge of the Ministry with the addition of Commerce, which was earlier held by Suresh Prabhu who has been dropped. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan retains the crucial portfolio and has been given the additional responsibility of Steel.

Giant killer Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi and was expected to be moved up in the hierarchy, continues with her old portfolio of Textiles, along with Women and Child Development, formerly held by Maneka Gandhi.

New Ministry

One of the major gainers among Cabinet Ministers was former Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who will head the newly created “Jal Shakti” Ministry. Mr. Modi had said at the BJP’s manifesto launch in April that the Ministry would be a priority area for the new government. The Agriculture portfolio has been allotted to Narendra Singh Tomar, along with his old portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.

Allies retain portfolios in new Cabinet

Several Ministers from the previous government retained their portfolios, with some given additional charge.

Thawarchand Gehlot has again been allotted the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, with former Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda being the new Tribal Affairs Minister.

Newly inducted Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” is the new Minister for Human Resources, while Prakash Javadekar has been made the new Minister for Environment and Forests and of Information and Broadcasting. Pralhad Joshi will take care of Coal along with Parliamentary Affairs. Minister of State with Independent charge, Kiren Rijiju is Sports Minister. R.K. Singh continues to hold power and renewable energy, while Hardeep Puri has been allotted Civil Aviation.

Among allies, Harsimrat Kaur Badal continues to hold Food Processing, Ram Vilas Paswan stays with Food and Consumer Affairs, Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant will hold heavy industries and Ramdas Athawale continues as junior Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

Prime Minister Modi will himself hold the portfolios of Department of Personnel and Training, Atomic Energy and Space. .

Here is the list of Ministers and their portfolios:

NamePortfolio
Prime Minister Narendra ModiPrime Minister and in charge of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Department of Atomic Energy; Department of Space; all important policy issues; and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister.
Rajnath SinghMinister for Defence.
Amit ShahMinister for Home Affairs.
Nitin Jairam GadkariMinister for Road Transport and Highways; and Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
D.V. Sadananda GowdaMinister for Chemicals and Fertilizers.
Nirmala SitharamanMinister for Finance; and Minister for Corporate Affairs.
Ram Vilas PaswanMinister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
Narendra Singh TomarMinister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Minister for Rural Development; and Minister for Panchayati Raj.
Ravi Shankar PrasadMinister for Law and Justice; Minister for Communications; and Minister for Electronics and Information Technology.
Harsimrat Kaur BadalMinister for Food Processing Industries.
Thaawar Chand GehlotMinister for Social Justice and Empowerment.
S. JaishankarMinister for External Affairs.
Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’Minister for Human Resources Development.
Arjun MundaMinister for Tribal Affairs.
Smriti IraniMinister for Women and Child Development; and Minister for Textiles.
Dr. Harsh VardhanMinister for Health and Family Welfare; Minister for Science and Technology; and Minister for Earth Sciences.
Prakash JavadekarMinister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
Piyush GoyalMinister for Railways; and Minister for Commerce and Industry.
Dharmendra PradhanMinister for Petroleum and Natural Gas; and Minister for Steel.
Mukhtar Abbas NaqviMinister for Minority Affairs.
Pralhad JoshiMinister for Parliamentary Affairs; Minister for Coal; and Minister for Mines.
Dr. Mahendra Nath PandeyMinister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
Arvind SawantMinister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise.
Giriraj SinghMinister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries.
Gajendra Singh ShekhawatMinister for ‘Jal Shakti’.

 

Ministers of State (Independent Charge)

Santosh Kumar GangwarMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Rao Inderjit SinghMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; and Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Planning.
Shripad Yesso NaikMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH); and Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence.
Dr. Jitendra SinghMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region; Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office; Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy; and Minister of State in the Department of Space.
Kiren RijijuMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
Prahalad Singh PatelMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Culture; and Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Tourism.
Raj Kumar SinghMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Power; Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
Hardeep Singh PuriMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Mansukh L. MandaviyaMinister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Shipping; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

Ministers of State

Faggansingh KulasteMinister of State in the Ministry of Steel.
Ashwini Kumar ChoubeyMinister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Shri Arjun Ram MeghwalMinister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
General (Retd.) V. K. SinghMinister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
Krishan PalMinister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Raosaheb DanveMinister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
G. Kishan ReddyMinister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Purushottam RupalaMinister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
Ramdas AthawaleMinister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Sadhvi Niranjan JyotiMinister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development.
Babul SupriyoMinister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Sanjeev Kumar BalyanMinister of State in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
Dhotre Sanjay ShamraoMinister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development; Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Anurag ThakurMinister of State in the Ministry of Finance; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
Suresh AngadiMinister of State in the Ministry of Railways.
Nityanand RaiMinister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Ratanlal KatariaMinister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
V. MuraleedharanMinister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
Renuka Singh SarutaMinister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
Som ParkashMinister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Rameswar TeliMinister of State in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
Pratap Chandra SarangiMinister of State in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
Kailash ChoudharyMinister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
Debasree ChaudhuriMinister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

 

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