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In S Jaishankar, Modi has sprung a surprise. What is new about India’s new MEA?

S Jaishankar retired as Foreign Secretary of India in January 2018 and had been on an extension since January 2015

New Delhi: A surprise appointment in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet has come in the form of S Jaishankar, a technocrat and a 1977-batch IFS officer who has no experience in politics and has never contested Lok Sabha elections. When S Jaishankar took the oath on Thursday, there was widespread speculation that he would be handed the External Affairs portfolio as he is a seasoned diplomat. Speculations were also fuelled by the fact that Sushma Swaraj had expressed her desire to opt-out of the Cabinet this time.

Jaishankar’s background

S Jaishankar retired as Foreign Secretary of India in January 2018 and had been on an extension since January 2015. He is widely regarded in the diplomatic circles as an astute thinker, a policy wonk and an exceptionally talented diplomat who brings together domain expertise and years of experience to the table. One of his most recent achievements was the diffusion of the Doklam crisis in 2017 when India had met China’s aggression and bullying tactics with resolve and pragmatism.

Is this the first time a technocrat has been inducted into Cabinet?

Well, no. The former Foreign Secretary is not the first career diplomat to be given charge of the External Affairs Ministry. The first diplomat to hold that distinction is K Natwar Singh. Singh was given charge of the foreign ministry during UPA-I. However, unlike Jaishankar, the MEA portfolio had come to Singh after having spent considerable time in politics. He had resigned from Indian Foreign Services in 1984 and had joined the Congress. He was given charge of the MEA in 2004 in former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet. Therefore, inducting Jaishankar, who does not have any experience in politics and has never contested the Lok Sabha elections, laterally into the highest level of the government is being read as a bold move.

Who else got what?

Here’s a list of portfolios allocated to the ministers:
  1. Rajnath Singh- Minister of Defence
  2. Amit Shah- Minister of Home Affairs
  3. Nitin Gadkari- Minister of road transport and highways; and minister of micro, small and medium enterprises
  4. D V Sadananda Gowda: Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers
  5. Nirmala Sitharaman- Minister of Finance and corporate affairs
  6. Ram Vilas Paswan- Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
  7. Narendra Singh Tomar- Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Minister of Rural Development; and Minister of Panchayati Raj
  8. Ravi Shankar Prasad- Minister of Law and Justice; Minister of Communications; and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology
  9. Harsimrat Kaur Badal- Minister of Food Processing Industries
  10. Thaawar Chand Gehlot: Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
  11. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar: Minister of External Affairs
  12. Ramesh Pokhriyal: Minister of Human Resource Development
  13. Arjun Munda: Minister of Tribal Affairs
  14. Smriti Zubin Irani - Minister of Women and Child Development; and Minister of Textiles
  15. Dr Harsh Vardhan: Minister of Health and Family Welfare; Minister of Science and Technology; and Minister of Earth Sciences.
  16. Prakash Javadekar- Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Minister of Information and Broadcasting
  17. Piyush Goyal - Minister of Railways; and Minister of Commerce and Industry
  18. Dharmendra Pradhan- Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas; and Minister of Steel
  19. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi: Minister of Minority Affairs
  20. Pralhad Joshi: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Minister of Coal; and Minister of Mines.
  21. Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey: Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
  22. Arvind Ganpat Sawant: Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise
  23.  Giriraj Singh: Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
  24. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat: Minister of Jal Shakti
Here is the full list of Ministers of State (Independent Charge)
  1. Santosh Kumar Gangwar: Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
  2. Rao Inderjit Singh: Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; and Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Planning.
  3. Shripad Yesso Naik : Minister 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.
  4. Jitendra Singh:Minister 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.
  5. Kiren Rijiju: Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
  6. Prahalad Singh Patel: Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Culture; and Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Tourism.
  7. Raj Kumar Singh: Minister 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.
  8. Hardeep Singh Puri: Minister 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.
  9. Mansukh L Mandaviya: Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Shipping; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
Ministers of State
  1. Faggansingh Kulaste - Minister of State in the Ministry of Steel
  2. Ashwini Kumar Choubey- Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  3. Arjun Ram Meghwal - Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
  4. General (Retd.) V K Singh- Minister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
  5. Krishan Pal - Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  6. Danve Raosaheb Dadarao- Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
  7. G Kishan Reddy- Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs
  8. Parshottam Rupala - Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
  9. Ramdas Athawale- Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  10. Niranjan Jyoti - Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development
  11. Babul Supriyo - Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  12. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan- Minister of State in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
  13. Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao - Minister 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
  14. Anurag Singh Thakur -Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  15. Angadi Suresh Channabasappa -Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways
  16. Nityanand Rai - Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs
  17. Rattan Lal Kataria -Minister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  18. V Muraleedharan - Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
  19. Renuka Singh Saruta - Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  20. Som Parkash - Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  21. Rameswar Teli -Minister of State in the Ministry of Food Processing and Industries
  22. Pratap Chandra Sarangi -Minister of State in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
  23. Kailash Choudhary - Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
  24. Debasree Chaudhuri -Minister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development