Meet Ashwini Vaishnaw, who replaces RS Prasad as IT Minister
India saw a flurry of resignations from some of the top jobs in the country on Wednesday. But perhaps the most surprising exit was that of Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, a staunch defender of the Narendra Modi government. Prasad has been replaced by Ashwini Vaishnaw, a former IAS officer and entrepreneur. Here's all you need to know about him.
Vaishnaw was born in Jodhpur in 1970
Vaishnaw, 50, was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in 1970. He graduated in electronic and communications engineering from the MBM Engineering College there in 1991. He then completed his Masters in Technology (M.Tech) from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. A 1994 batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer, he served as the District Magistrate-cum-Collector in Balasore and Cuttack.
Vaishnaw's role in rehabilitation after the 1999 super cyclone
During his career as an IAS officer, Vaishnaw played a key role in handling the aftermath of the devastating super cyclone that hit Odisha in 1999, killing thousands. At that time, he spent his shifts tracking the cyclone on a US Navy website and sent regular reports to the office of the state's Chief Secretary, helping the government take timely measures and save lives.
'He tracked the cyclone every hour'
"He tracked the cyclone every hour and sent a report to the Chief Secretary at regular intervals, which became a major source of information for the Odisha government about the cyclone," an official who worked in the Chief Secretary's office back then, recalled.
Vaishnaw closely worked with former PM AB Vajpayee
Vaishnaw worked in Odisha until 2003, before being appointed the deputy secretary in the office of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After Vajpayee-led alliance, the NDA, lost the 2004 Indian general elections, Vaishnaw was appointed as the late politician's private secretary. He quit government service in 2008 and moved to the United States to complete his MBA.
In 2012, Vaishnaw set up 2 manufacturing units in Gujarat
After completing his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Vaishnaw went on to become the Managing Director at GE Transportation, and the chief of Urban Infrastructure Strategy at Siemens. In 2012, he quit the corporate sector and set up two automotive components manufacturing units in Gujarat - Three Tee Auto Logistics and Vee Gee Auto Components.
In 2019, Vaishnaw joined BJP and became an MP
In 2019, Vaishnaw joined the ruling BJP and became a Rajya Sabha MP. He also enjoys support from Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal as CM Naveen Patnaik's party had supported his nomination to the Upper House of the Parliament, despite facing criticism from some sections.
Vaishnaw takes charge at a challenging time
Vaishnaw takes charge of the IT Ministry at a time when the government is involved in a high-profile tussle with tech giants, especially Twitter. The government has time and again slammed the company over non-compliance of the new IT guidelines while the company raised issues such as user privacy. Twitter also recently lost its legal shield in India and is facing several police cases.
'Will work relentlessly to realize the PM's vision'
"I thank Hon'ble Prime Minister @narendramodi ji for giving me the opportunity to serve the nation as Union Minister," Vaishnaw tweeted last night. "I will take charge tomorrow and work relentlessly to realize his vision." He has also been assigned the Railways Ministry.