JAMMU: That the good work gets recognized and rewarded fits well with Dr Jitendra Singh, who, after retaining the Kathua-Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary Constituency in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, clinched again the coveted portfolio of Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, plus various other ministries some of them with independent charge.The PMO under Narendra Modi is altogether a different institution now. It is no more controlled remotely, as was the case earlier, especially between 2004 and 2014. By virtue of his positioning in the corridors of power, as also political acumen and nuances, Dr Jitendra emerged as a key advisor to the Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah on sensitive Kashmir affairs. This was perhaps the turning point of his political career, as the BJP had made up its mind to accomplish its agenda and manifesto of repealing Article 370 and Article 35A. The erstwhile princely state also got reorganized and bifurcated into two Union Territories with dream coming true for the people of Ladakh.In his capacity as Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh is looking after the key departments of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Atomic Energy and Space. He is also Minister of State (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region. He had held the portfolios of Minister of State for Science and Technology besides Earth Science from May 26, 2014 to November 8, 2014.Added responsibilities have, however, never deviated his attention from Jammu and Kashmir, which remains core of his priorities. He has been constantly monitoring the implementation of various projects and schemes, especially those the packages announced by the Prime Minister. He has been instrumental in getting various sensitive issues settled in his home Union Territory to the satisfaction of the people, time and again.Hectic schedule keeps Dr Jitendra Singh moving from place to place. This has dividends as well. The good work carried out in the North East Region has witnessed the BJP getting into the cradle of power in Assam. If reports are to be believed, the BJP is set to return to the power in the upcoming elections as well. Credit must partly go the Gaurav-e-Duggar also.During Dr Singh’s tenure as the minister of personnel, public grievances and pension, the Union Public Service Commission refused to count the marks of English comprehension in the Civil Services Aptitude Test. This violated the status quo of the question paper as suggested by the Arvind Verma committee. Interviews were discontinued for lower tier government jobs as well the need of attestation by a gazetted officer was also discontinued. On 20 March 2019, Pinaki Chandra Ghose, a former Supreme Court judge was appointed as India’s first Lokpal.As a minister of science and technology, Singh launched India’s first indigenously made research vessel named “Sindhu Sadhana” on 14 July 2014 from Mormugao harbour in Goa. In a written response to the Lok Sabha on 31 July, he announced that India had signed cooperative arrangements with 33 countries for “peaceful use of outer space”. He further added that areas of co-operation included remote sensing of earth, launch services , satellite communication, telemetry, space exploitation and space law. He further launched India’s first home-made broad spectrum confocal microscope on 7 October at New Delhi. He announced that the government was considering increasing the retirement age of scientists to 62 years. The ministry increased the stipend of researchers by 50% at the end of the month.While holding the charge of Ministry of Space, the fourth Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System was launched by ISRO in April 2015 which would provide “navigation and communication facility to all the surrounding countries”.On 8 November 2014, in a cabinet reshuffle, Singh was appointed Minister of State (Independent charge) in the Ministry of Development of North East Region, replacing V. K Singh. In the ministry, he introduced the use of satellite imaging for surveying and building roads and for “preparation of utilisation certificates with fool-proof accuracy”. He advised Sarbananda Sonowal, the Chief Minister of Assam to utilise the Assam Remote Sensing Application Centre to construct smart cities and in urban development. On 23 November 2015, Singh announced that the central government has decided to make Mizoram a “bamboo state” and the ministry proposed steps for the commercial utilisation of the state’s bamboo potential.In January 2016, he said that the Northeast India was “emerging destination for new Startups”. In the Startup India scheme launched by Modi, the ministry added an additional incentive, “venture”funds. This fund would provide the aspiring entrepreneurs “relief from financial liabilities” and thus according to Singh, youth from other parts of India would “participate in the development of the North-Eastern States”.In September 2018, Pakyong Airport, Sikkim’s first green field airport was inaugurated by Narendra Modi. Previously, Singh had set up a deadline of 2017. In the same month, he announced that an airport would also be built in Arunachal Pradesh.(to be continued)
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