A bureaucrat, MBA, techie, politician and now a minister. Ashwini Vaishnaw joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s team on Wednesday with responsibilities of Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Communications, and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The 50-year-old’s appointment came following the shock exit of Ravi Shankar Prasad, one of the government’s loudest defenders.
Who is Ashwini Vaishnaw?
A 1994-batch IAS Officer from Odisha cadre, Vaishnaw rose to prominence through his meticulous service when the state was hit by a super cyclone in 1999. Back then, he spent his long shifts tracking the cyclone on US Navy website and followed it up by intimating Chief Secretary’s office on regular intervals. “He tracked the cyclone every hour and sent a report to the chief secretary at regular intervals, which became a major source of information for the Odisha government about the cyclone,” an official who then worked in the chief secretary’s office recalled.
What was he up to?
He is a BJP Rajya Sabha member from the state of Odisha since June 2019 and enjoys a solid backing from the ruling BJD. CM Naveen Patnaik gave him outright support after PM Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister made it clear that they want the ex-bureaucrat in the Upper House.
Vaishnaw has also served in the PMO at the turn of the millennium. He was also the personal secretary to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee till 2003. In 2006, he became deputy chairman of Marmugoa Port Trust, where he worked for next 2 years, and then left for US to pursue an MBA. In 2012, he quit the corporate sector and set up his own company which operated in Gujarat. Vaishnaw, who has held leadership roles across major global companies such as General Electric and Siemens, has an MBA from Wharton School, Pennsylvania University and M.Tech from IIT Kanpur.
Vaishnaw was born in Jodhpur and completed his education from the state, earning a B Tech degree in Electronics and Communications. He then got his M.TECH from IIT Kanpur, before cracking IAS in 1994 with an all-India rank of 27.