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2 New Appointments in PMO Reveal Govt's Top Priorities are Healthcare, Aatma Nirbhar Bharat

File photo of Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI)

File photo of Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI)

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the fact that health sector has never been a priority in India. Most states are reporting overflowing beds, and inadequate testing facilities.

Pallavi Ghosh
  • CNN-News18
  • Last Updated: May 30, 2020, 11:36 AM IST
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There are two new appointments to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) which stand out and gives an insight into the immediate as well as long-term plans of Prime Minister Narendra Modi . The appointments make it clear that tackling Covid-19 is currently top priority for the central government and the PM.


First, S Gopalakrishnan has been appointed as additional secretary in the PMO. Placed with the ministry of electronics thus far, Gopalakrishnan has dealt with responsibilities related to new technologies, innovations and startups. He is an electrical engineer from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

As we know, the tagline of the Modi government is now Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. As the pandemic continues to rage, the economies shrivel and various countries move to insulate themselves, the Modi government wants to reduce dependence on other countries and become self-reliant. This is what the Prime Minister conveyed through his letter on the first anniversary of the Modi government. The letter, addressed to the nation, gives a good insight into his mind.

“At such a time, there is also a widespread debate on how the economies of various countries, including India’s, will recover. However, given the way India has surprised the world with its unity and resolve in the fight against coronavirus, there is a firm belief that we will also set an example in economic revival,” the letter reads.

‘Aatmanirbharta’ as a policy gives hope to the government that it would also ensure jobs are created internally at a time when unemployment figures rise. One big responsibility of S Gopalakrishnan would now be to suggest innovative ways to become self-reliant and put the economy back on track.

At the same time — as the government focuses on economic recovery — the most pressing issue of health cannot be overlooked. The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the fact that health sector has never been a priority in India. Most states are reporting overflowing beds, inadequate testing facilities and insufficient kits for the medical teams and frontline warriors.

To tackle this aspect, C Sridhar has been appointment as joint secretary in the PMO. He is a specialist in genetics but while posted in Lal bahadur Shastri academy (training institute for bureaucrats) his focus has been on disaster and crisis management.

It’s time we accept that coronavirus and its impact are likely to stay for some time and there is no guarantee that we won’t be vulnerable to the damage this virus causes. In this context, a futuristic disaster management policy becomes imperative and Sridhar, with his field and academic experience, can come in handy.

But there is another important messaging which comes in from the appointments and perhaps the larger one. The hallmark of the Modi government has been to try and shake off the babudom. Specialists have been consulted and the Modi has been hands-on in his approach and the strong IAS lobby has finally begun to feel that its grip has loosened. No surprises then that of the appointments announced on Friday, 11 are non-IAS. The message is loud and clear — anyone can be part of the PMO team. This certainly has increased the enthusiasm of those from the non-IAS service backgrounds.

“With these new appointments, the government hopes to move ahead and reclaim the ground,” a top cource told CNN-News18, adding that the move becomes more important as it comes right after the completion of one year of the Modi government.

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