Narendra Modi, who took oath as India’s 15th Prime Minister on Monday, ushered in significant changes in administration, dismantling existing structures by merging key ministries in an apparent attempt to bring in more synergy in governance and make decision making quicker and more efficient.
The corporate affairs ministry has been brought under the finance ministry, a move reminiscent of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government when the finance minister also had oversight over the then department of company affairs.
This has been done, keeping in view the need to match macro-economic objectives in tune with the recently enacted Companies Act that has redefined India’s corporate governance norms, grant shareholders with greater powers to defend their rights and lay down rules for companies to spend on welfare activities under the broad head of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), an agency mandated to investigate corporate scams, will also now come under the finance ministry.
Likewise, to provide impetus to infrastructure sector, transport minister will have oversight over both the roads and highways and ports and shipping sector.
Similarly, to coal and power sectors—inter-linked through fuel supply and generation linkages—will be overseen by a single cabinet minister. This will likely reduce time overruns of projects that are stuck primarily because of delays in inter-departmental approvals.
The Panchayati Raj ministry has also been merged with the rural development ministry amid indications that the NDA government could introduce major changes in several welfare schemes, including the former UPA government’s flagship scheme — NREGA.
The Planning and Statistics ministries, required to work in close coordination with each other will have one minister—a throwback to the Vajpayee era when there was one minister for the two wings of the government.
In another move, the clean Ganga project has been moved from the environment ministry to the water resources department.
The UPA government had created National Ganga River Basin Authority under the ministry to restore the river to its pristine glory but not much was achieved.
Besides, the new government will have Urban Development and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Housing under one minister. The UPA had created two ministries from erstwhile Urban Development to accommodate more ministers. In another similar move, Modi will have one minister for tribal affairs and scheduled castes, called social justice and empowerment, and disability affairs.