In Pics: How Jaitley, Smriti, Sushma and other ministers performed in 1st year of Modi Government

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As Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government is celebrating its first anniversary since it came to power, on May 26, 2014, it is time to turn back and have a look at the performance of its ministers and their respective ministries.

Narendra Modi, took oath as India's 15th prime minister on May 26, 2014, along with his council of ministers promising a new chapter in country's history. The NDA government rose to power with a landslide victory, with a promise of 'acche din', during 2014 Lok Sabha elections after a decade of UPA rule.

PM Modi constituted a compact cabinet, with astute leaders, having a perfect blend of seasoned and young politicians. As 12 months of Modi government have been completed let us take a brief look at how the top ministers in the Modi government fared in the past 1 year. [Also Read:  1st year Report Cards of top ministers in Modi government]

Arun Jaitley

Profile: Minister of Finance, Minister of Corporate Affairs and Minister of Information and Broadcasting of India

Performance: Few people in the central leadership of BJP could claim to have the ears of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Arun Jaitley can.

It is also an evidence of Modi's faith in him that despite his loss in Lok Sabha elections, the legal luminary was always being seen as a certainty in the Modi cabinet for a high profile ministry.

In Feb, 2015, BJP leaders and ministers showered praises on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for presenting a "historic", "pro-poor, pro-farmer" or "pragmatic" Union Budget for the financial year 2015-16, while the opposition Congress called it "corporate friendly". Industrialists and experts had called it a bold and far sighted budget that had 'something' for everyone and was not a populist one.

In Jan, 2015, terming political opposition to ordinance route for reforms as 'obstructionism', Arun Jaitley said the foreign investors have no problems with these decisions and they were rather happy that the government has brought in legislations.

He achieved a massive success after Modi Govt's ambitious Jan Dhan Yojna made it to Guinness Book of World Records for opening maximum number of bank accounts.

In Dec, 2014, rejecting the contention of economists against India adopting an export-led growth path, Jaitley said the 'Make in India' programme is about manufacturing quality products at low costs, and is not relevant to whether these are sold in India or abroad.

In Nov, 2014, after returning to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry after a long gap, Arun Jaitley said the media domain has expanded immensely and the ministry has to look at the changed information process scenario.

Refuting opposition charges that little was being done to get back illicit money stashed away by Indians abroad, Arun Jaitley said a lot of ground has been covered and 250 people have conceded to overseas bank accounts.

In Oct, 2014, Jaitley asked the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) not to sensationalise its findings to get into headlines. He went all guns blazing against Pakistan for its continued unprovoked border firing and said Indian forces will make the cost of Islamabad's adventurism unaffordable.

In July, the maiden Budget of the Modi government, presented by FM Jaitley, was hailed by experts and corporate sector as a step in the right direction to generate employment and foster growth.

They said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has opened the door to a much wider level of involvement in India's development plans in the coming years.

Recently, Jaitley outlined the road map for the second year of the NDA government which includes making taxation more reasonable and improving the ease of doing business in India.

On Social Media: Arun Jaitley has good social media presence. The FM has 2.2 million Twitter followers while 19,03,863 likes on Facebook.

Report Card: 7/10

 

Sushma Swaraj

Profile: External Affairs Minister

Performance: Ever since this brightened second generation politician in the BJP acquired the chair of country's External Affairs Minister, India's image on global platform has only improved with every passing day. Foreign relations with the West as well as East have strengthened.

Apart from PM Modi's foreign visits, the efficiency shown by India's rescue operations in Iraq and Yemen has drawn a lot of positive notice. India has emerged as a fearless and helpful government in the minds of its neighbours. India's relief efforts in quake-hit Nepal are also being lauded.

In April 2015, Sushma Swaraj conveyed India's security concerns to her North Korean counterpart Ri Su Yong, emphasising the significance of peace and stability in the Korean peninsula for the country.

In Apr 2015, India evacuated 1,947 people from 48 countries besides 4,741 of its own nationals from war-torn Yemen and the operation was a "resounding success", acknowledged by the international community, government told the Lok Sabha.

In March 2015, Swaraj told India strongly raised with Sri Lanka the concerns over the plight of Tamil fishermen and an interim arrangement is being put in place between fishermen of the two countries to resolve the issue.

Making a statement, Swaraj said the issue of fishermen should not be dealt with on technical grounds but on humanitarian grounds.

In Feb 2015, Due to effective leadership and sustained diplomatic efforts, Swaraj and her team assured the release of Indian priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar eight months after he was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Prem Kumar, who hails from Tamil Nadu, was working for a educational charity, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), in Afghanistan for three years. He was kidnapped by the Taliban on June 2, 2014.

Ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit to China, Swaraj met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and discussed a "positive" bilateral agenda for the year.

India is committed to finding an "early settlement" to the vexed boundary issue, Swaraj said on her maiden visit to China as she proposed a six-point template to build Sino- India ties to realise the common dream of 'Asian Century'.

In Dec 2014, Sushma said, the adoption of June 21 as the International Yoga Day by the United Nations signifies the support that recent diplomatic endeavours of the government have evoked on the world stage. With 1,737,804 followers Sushma Swaraj became the most followed foreign minister on Twitter.

In Oct 2014, India blamed Pakistan for "derailing" the dialogue process but said there is "no fullstop" in diplomatic relations and people always move forward after the short pauses.

In Sept 2104, Sushma Swaraj told the NAM committee that India has always supported the cause of Palestine and its commitment to the Palestinian cause has been a feature of its foreign policy.

"India's solidarity with the Palestinian people and its stance to the Palestinian question was inspired by its own freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi who supported the rights of Palestinian people in his life time," she said.

She had also visited US in this month and her counterparts from seven nations, including the UK and the Maldives.

In Aug 2014, keen to bolster India's bilateral ties with the strategically-important Vietnam, Swaraj will undertook a series of meetings with the top leadership of Vietnam focusing on connectivity, trade, defence and security cooperation.

In July 2014, aiming for a re-energised India-US bilateral relationship, Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry explored frontiers vis-a-vis security and clean energy during the fifth India-US strategic dialogue in New Delhi.

On Social Media: Swaraj has good social media presence. The Minister has 2.7 million Twitter followers while 18,76,884 Facebook likes.

Report Card: 9/10

Smriti Irani

Profile: Minister of Human Resource and Development

Performance: 38-year-old Smriti Zubin Irani joined BJP in 2003 and in a span of 11 years, she has established herself as a strong and a popular politician. She was assigned a crucial portfolio of Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ministry and has tried to improve condition of education sector.

In April 2015, a panel formed by HRD Minister Smriti Irani to review working of University Grant Commission (UGC) has suggested scrapping it completely. The panel said that the nodal body for universities in India not only has ‘failed to fulfil its mandate but also has not been able to deal with emerging diverse complexities.'

In Mar 2015, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani was named Young Global Leader from India by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which said she "rose from sweeping floors in a fast food restaurant to become a top politician in India".

In Feb 2015, Smriti Irani informed Lok Sabha that the Centre is exploring various options to bring to book those who have played fraud with several hundred students from Jammu and Kashmir studying in various states under the Prime Minister's special scholarship scheme.

"We are exploring various possibilities ... Institutions and individuals will be brought to book... They have deliberately misled the students", Irani said.

In Jan 2015, She attacked both Congress and AAP, and claimed that what the BJP has achieved in the last 7 months the 'grand old party' would have taken 60 years to do so, and accused the 'newest party' of "running away" after being voted to power.

In Nov 2014, she informed that in line with PM Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' campaign, the HRD ministry is planning to come up with a 'Think in India' drive to encourage students and researchers to come up with innovations and new ideas and to keep the talent back home from leaving abroad.

In Oct 2014, Smriti Irani distributed over 15,000 saris among woman from the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency as Diwali gift.

Recently, Irani made a strong defence of controversial decisions like scrapping of the FYUP and asking IITs to seek her ministry's advise on MoUs, as she rejected the charge of saffronisation, saying her government was bound by the Constitution.

On Social Media: She has 1.77 million followers on Twitter while 32,25,561 Facebook likes.

Report Card: 8/10

Manohar Parrikar

Profile: Ministry of Defence

Performance: The technocrat-turned politician Manohar Parrikar, who is known for his administrative acumen and clean image to leave an indelible mark on the politics of the tiny state of Goa, Narendra Modi Government inducted the three-time Goa Chief Minister as Defence Minister in its first cabinet expansion.

From acting hard on the issue of terrorism to strengthening India's defence arsenal with mega defence deals, Parrikar has performed exceptionally well ever since he was handed over the crucial portfolio. The Defence Minister's efforts resulted into signing of crucial Rafale aricraft deal with France and he is also promoting for Make In India.

In April, 2015, Parrikar said that Indian Railways will soon set up a station in Arunachal Pradesh near the India-China border.

"A draft of the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) is ready and will be signed soon," Parrikar said, adding he has spoken in detail about the project to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

In March 2015, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar exhibited his editorial skills to perfection while putting together an e-book capturing the tasks, mandate and achievements of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently. The e-book titled ‘In Defence of the Nation' was released on March 5, fulfilling the requirement of Narendra Modi government, which had asked every ministry to bring out their achievements.

In Jan, 2015, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said India is "well prepared" to thwart any possible terror attack in the backdrop of intelligence inputs that strikes could be carried out on "soft targets" in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to New Delhi.

In Dec 2015, Defence Minister said even as India will try to use diplomatic steps to avoid a confrontation with Pakistan, one needs to teach lessons to "those who are rogue".

In Nov 2015, largely blaming man-management issues for the spate of suicides in India's armed forces Defence Minister said when it comes to the country's defence, military personnel are more important than their weapons.

Reacting over report that 99 soldiers committed suicide in 2014. Parrikar said, "I believe that more than armaments, the person behind it is a stronger defence for the country."

On Social Media: Parrikar has 5.31 lakh followers while has 4,83,819 Facebook likes.

Report Card: 8/10

Suresh Prabhu

Profile: Minister of Railways

Performance: Suresh Prabhu, a former Shiv Sena leader, became a part of Narendra Modi's cabinet despite Shiv Sena's objection. He was not only inducted into BJP but was also assigned one of the most important ministries, the Railway Ministry. The Modi Government has high hopes with Prabhu, a visionary, to bring the cash-strapped state-owned carrier back on track.

In May 2015, notwithstanding recommendation by government panels, Prabhu had outrightly ruled out privatisation of the public transporter, saying it was a "bogey" being raised by those who do not want any change.

He further said the concept of privatisation gives confusing signals and envisages the possibilities of ownership transfer of an enterprise to a different entity or management which was not possible in railways.

In April 2015, He said the government was working to make operations of the Railways fully transparent for which a system is being put in place in the ministry. "We have already put in place a system for it and over a period of time, we will make sure that operations of the railways are entirely transparent in booking of tickets, cargos, and also in tenders.

In Mar 2015, Prabhu said, the NDA government will carry forward and implement the "good" policies and rail projects of the UPA regime.

"We don't want to look at development projects with the prism of politics. Railways is a national assets. We will carry forward the good policies and implement projects announced by the previous UPA government," he said during Question Hour.

In Feb 2015, Prabhu introduced his maiden Rail Budget for the year 2015-16. A majority of people were delighted with it and gave a thumbs up to the promise of introduction of faster trains, free wi-fi, cameras for women safety and no hike in passenger fares. Passengers at many of the railway stations in the national capital felt that the budget was "satisfactory" and while the older generation was pleased with no hike in fares.

In Dec 2015, Suresh Prabhu informed the Lok Sabha that a special women battalion of the Railway Protection Force will be raised soon for security of female train passengers.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said during Question Hour that CCTV cameras are also being installed in trains to monitor activities of passengers while a special mobile app will be introduced soon by the Railway Ministry to facilitate women passengers to lodge instant complaints of harassment.

On Social Media: The minister is not very popular on social media, in comparison to some of his colleagues, for he has only 1.49 lakh followers on Twitter while has slightly over 9,000 like on Facebook.

Report Card: 8/10

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