Mansukh Mandaviya was on Wednesday made the new health minister of India, replacing Dr. Harsh Vardhan. Mandaviya’s portfolio assumes utmost significance as the country is in the midst of coronavirus pandemic.
A doctor himself, Harsh Vardhan had been in charge of the health ministry as well as the science and technology ministry as the Covid pandemic broke and then India worked to develop vaccines. However, his various comments in the middle of the crisis were slammed by critics as insensitive and ignorant of the ground reality, even as he strongly defended the government’s handling of the situation.
In a major overhaul, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday brought in Sarbananda Sonowal, Narayan Rane and Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Cabinet while dropping as many as 12 ministers including Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar.
A BJP leader from Gujarat’s Saurashtra region, Mandaviya has been an important young face in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre since 2016. He was first inducted in the Union cabinet as Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Chemicals and Fertilisers on July 5, 2016.
On May 30, 2019, he was again sworn in as MoS for Chemicals and Fertilisers with an independent charge of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
Born into a farming family in Hanol village in Bhavnagar district on July 1, 1972, Mandaviya was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2012 and reelected in 2018.
Earlier, he had served as chairman of the Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation Limited.
He started his political journey as a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the RSS’ student wing, before joining the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP.
Mandaviya became the youngest MLA in Gujarat in 2002 when he was elected from Palitana constituency.
A postgraduate in political science from Bhavnagar University, Mandaviya is also known for organising long padyatras (foot marches) including two that he held as an MLA to spread awareness on girls’ education and the perils of addiction.
Taking into account his organisational skills, he was made the youngest-ever secretary of the state BJP in 2013, and general secretary in 2014.
In 2014, he also became in-charge of the BJP’s mega membership drive during which one crore people joined the party.
The following year in 2015, he was selected to represent India at the United Nations where he delivered a speech on the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
As Union minister, he is credited with setting up over 5,100 Jan Aushadhi stores to provide more than 850 medicines at affordable rates and reducing the cost of heart stents and knee implants.
He was honoured by UNICEF for his contribution to the cause of women’s menstrual hygiene by using the chain of Jan Aushadhi Kendras to sell 10 crore sanitary pads made with oxo-biodegradable technology at a nominal price.