Meet Mansukh Mandaviya, who replaced Harsh Vardhan as Health Minister
On Wednesday, Mansukh Mandaviya, 49, was made the new Health Minister of India in a major rejig of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Union Cabinet. His portfolio carries utmost significance as the country is currently battling one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. Mandaviya, an MP from Gujarat, also retains the Chemical and Fertilizers Ministry. Here's all you need to know about him.
Mandaviya, previously a Minister of State, has been elevated as a Cabinet Minister. He has taken over the reigns from Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who resigned from the post on Wednesday, ahead of the Cabinet rejig. Vardhan had notably faced criticism for the country's poor handling of the COVID-19 crisis as India ran short of hospital beds, medical oxygen, and mortuary space.
Born in Bhavnagar on July 1, 1972, Mandaviya is a post-graduate in Political Science. He started his political journey as a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He also served as an executive committee member of the ABVP's Gujarat unit, before joining the BJP's youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM).
In 2002, Mandaviya became the youngest MLA from Palitana in the Gujarat Assembly. Mandaviya was appointed Secretary of the BJP's Gujarat unit in 2013. He was later elevated as General Secretary. He also served as the saffron party's Gujarat in-charge of high-tech and mega membership drive in 2014. In 2015, he represented India at the United Nations, delivering a lecture on sustainability.
At 40, Mansukh Mandaviya was elected to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2012. He later joined PM Modi's government in 2016 as a Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, and Chemical & Fertilizers. He was re-elected for a second term in 2018.
When the Modi government returned to power in 2019, Mandaviya was sworn in as MoS for Chemicals and Fertilizers with an independent charge of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways. He was mostly credited for setting up over 5,100 Jan Aushadhi stores to provide over 850 medicines at affordable rates, and also for reducing the cost of heart stents and knee implants.
In 2019, UNICEF had honored Mandaviya for his work toward menstrual health. He had facilitated the sale of 10 crore sanitary pads made with oxo-biodegradable technology by using the chain of Jana Aushadhi stores at a nominal price.
One of the biggest challenges before Mandaviya is to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations and present a strategy to prevent a third wave of the outbreak, which experts say is likely to hit next month. As the Union Minister also retains charge of the Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry, he also needs to ensure controlled prices of fertilizers, uninterrupted supply of essential medicines, raw material, etc.