• Shujat Shahid

Cabinet Reshuffle 2021 - Inclusivity or Appeasement?

The recent Cabinet reshuffle resulted in drastic handover of certain portfolios but the controversy around it continues to be unflinching. Strewn between aiming at diversification on one hand and mismanagement on the other, the cabinet saw 12 high-profile resignations. Here is a look at the Cabinet beyond the lens of Ethnicity, to see how qualified these people are to run our country.


REPORT:


A cabinet of professionals?

A significant feature of this year’s cabinet reshuffle is the inclusion of professionals in various fields, be it public administration, medicine, engineering and the like. The paramount centre of power in the Indian Union now has

  • 7 PhD holders

  • 13 lawyers

  • 6 doctors

  • 7 bureaucrats

  • 3 MBAs


A cabinet of Veterans?

In the past, several governments have been castigated for the addition of inept and undexterous politicians. This is something that the new choice of ministers seems to want to tackle with

  • 4 ex-CMs

  • 23 having been elected to the Parliament thrice

  • 18 former Ministers in State Governments have been appointed.


However, there are a few fallouts. Firstly and the most polarising, Anurag Thakur, the BJP leader who was banned from campaigning for his violent invective where he infamously remarked “goli maaro saalon ko”, has been given three crucial portfolios, including the Information and Broadcasting department. The Ministry of Rural Development has been given to Giriraj Singh who is widely known for his highly communal remarks. Being a veteran could, however, mean a lot of things and in this context, a whopping 33 (42%) ministers have declared criminal cases against them.


On the other hand, the Railways and the IT ministries have been given to Ashwini Vaishnav, who, being an alumnus of Wharton and IIT Kanpur, is highly qualified. However, having no prior experience, he has his work cut out.


PM Modi will additionally be monitoring the Ministry of Science and Technology while Amit Shah has been given the new Ministry of Cooperation.


State Representation in the Cabinet

25 states and union territories have been represented. With the major states, more ministers could be identified:

  • 15 from UP

  • 8 from Maharashtra

  • 7 from Gujarat- the biggest ever representation to the state

  • 6 from Karnataka

  • 5 ministers are from the North-Eastern states.

This move comes before the highly anticipated state elections in Uttar Pradesh, explaining the highest number of ministers from the state. Pashupati

Paras, currently embroiled in an internal feud over leadership of the BJP ally LJP, has been given the Food Processing Industries portfolios. Many claim that “appeasement” has played a major role in the selection of the new Cabinet. At the same time, the Communist dominated state of Kerala remains unrepresented along with other key states such as Andhra Pradesh.


Diversification

The current cabinet offers a young and diverse perspective or so has been the motive.


Apart from this,

  • 12 SC

  • 8 ST

  • 27 OBCs

  • 5 from minority communities have been represented.


Conclusion

While several distinguished politicians have been included in the cabinet, it certainly is shrouded with a slew of controversial picks, while in the eyes of many, failing to fully achieve its “Inclusivity” purpose. What remains to be seen is the subsequent success or failure of this apparent attempt of PM Modi to constitute an “inclusive” cabinet.

SOURCES: The Times Of India, Indian Express, India Today, India TV, The Wire, News18, NDTV, The Telegraph


~ Shujat Ali Shahid