COVID-19: How Ministers in Modi’s Cabinet are Working From Home

The government has been advising people to maintain social distance to help flatten the curve.

3 min read
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday, 7 April, chaired a meeting of Group of Ministers.

With the ongoing nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of novel coronavirus, several companies have resorted to work from home. The government, too, has been advising people to maintain social distance to help flatten the curve.

The death toll due to novel coronavirus rose to 124 and the number of cases in the country climbed to 4,789 on Tuesday, 7 April, according to the Union Health Ministry. While the number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 4,312, as many as 352 people were cured and discharged, and one had migrated, it stated.

Let’s look at how various union ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet are running the country from their homes:

Home Minister Amit Shah

Amit Shah’s core team has witnessed a significant decrease in the number of officers working for him. Usually, his team consists of around 40-42 officers, but now he has nearly one fourth of the team working for him, IANS reported. He has also cut down on his visits to the ministry to four to five times since the lockdown was imposed.

As per sources, Shah mostly coordinates through phone when he is at home. Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla regularly update the home minister on steps required to combat COVID-19.

According to ThePrint, Shah has deployed four control rooms at North Block to keep himself updated with all the COVID-19 related information. Further, the home minister also pays “surprise visits” to these control rooms to regulate proper functioning, a home ministry source told ThePrint.

“Shah, the source said, had deputed his two junior ministers — G Kishan Reddy and Nityanand Rai — to manage the control rooms 24×7,” the report added.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh, who is heading the group of ministers on COVID-19, while at home largely makes use of Zoom video, however, government meetings and interactions happen on secured networks.

"He can go to the South Block. But that will mean coming in contact with at least a dozen people everyday, at the bare minimum. When you have the technology available to avoid that, why not use it?” one of his aides said, IANS reported.

The number of video conferences range from ten on a heavy day to one on lean days. The defence minister on Tuesday, 7 April, chaired a meeting of group of ministers at his residence in New Delhi to review measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

For this meeting as well, he had told his staff to schedule the meeting in a larger room so that all the ministers can be seated at an appropriate distance, IANS reported.

I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar

Prakash Javadekar, who is overseeing three important ministries – Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Information & Broadcasting; and Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises – uses phone calls to communicate with his secretaries and joint secretaries as opposed to holding video conferences.

The union minister has also been given party assignments to be done from home in the course of last three weeks.

“A source said that Javadekar starts his day with yoga to stay focussed amid juggling many roles,” IANS reported.

Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal

The Human Resource Development Ministry has been making important announcements regarding passing students to higher classes, and notifications regarding academic sessions while assuring the students will not suffer academic loss.

The HRD minister while at home has been interacting with his team through video conferences and holding meetings at his house, ThePrint reported.

“It is between these meetings that Pokhriyal squeezes in some time for his daily puja,” the report added.

Agriculture & Farmer Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar

Due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many businesses have taken a hit. Farmers, in particular, are having a tough time as they are bound to be at home, unable to work on the fields.

According to IANS, Narendra Singh Tomar has been regularly going to the ministry as compared to other ministers. He went to the ministry on Monday and Tuesday and as per sources, one more meeting is lined up on Wednesday via video conference.

However, he is making sure that while he goes to the ministry, the staff present is at a bare minimum. The minister communicates with his team via text messages and calls.

(With inputs from IANS, ThePrint)

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