New ministers quickly get down to business

Last Updated 29 May 2009, 11:28 IST

With their portfolios announced, the ministers took charge of their ministries, some in the morning and some others in the afternoon, getting briefings from their senior officials on the tasks ahead.

Spelling out his priority on his first day in office, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said education programmes initiated by his predecessor Arjun Singh would be continued with modifications "as required".

He said changes were required in the education sector to enable the children and youth to compete with their counterparts at the international level.

"Nothing is static. We have to march forward to be able to compete at the international level," he stressed.

Striking a similar vein, 72-year old Farooq Abdullah, three-times Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said as the minister for New and Renewable Energy, he has been entrusted with the job that ultimately benefits the future generation. "This ministry is a challenge and I take this challenge headon."

Seeking to shrug off the impression that he has been given a less important portfolio after looking after the important Commerce and Industry ministry, Kamal Nath said his new assignment as Minister for Roads Transport and Highways was "exciting" and "challenging".

Kamal Nath said the old regulatory framework relating to the transportation sector will be modernised to make it "practical". There will be a relook at multiple permits. "We are looking at new models," he said.

Listing his priorities, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said these included implementation of UPA government's flagship National Rural Health Mission in "letter and spirit", getting Cabinet approval National Urban Health Mission and putting on fast track construction of six new AIIMS.

Taking charge of the Commerce and Industry ministry, Anand Sharma said India will intensify its global economic engagement. Sharma said he was taking a "challenging responsibility" at a time when India's exports have suffered a severe setback due to the global downturn.

Congress veteran Veerappa Moily, who took over as Law and Justice minister, promised that the next five years will be the era of judicial reforms. "We have to ensure that the rule of law is for every individual...the aam aadmi".

Implementation of social security scheme for the benefit of construction workers was among his top priorities, said Labour and Employment minister M Mallikarjun Kharge.

Steel minister Virbhadra Singh said an empowered mechanism would be created to expedite investment proposals of Rs 11 lakh crore in the steel sector.

(Published 29 May 2009, 11:17 IST)

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