Ashwini Vaishnaw is a Rajya Sabha MP for Odisha and the new entry in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet. On Wednesday, he has been appointed as the Minister of Railways, Minister of Communications, and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology.
A former IAS officer of the 1994 batch, he handled important responsibilities over 15 years and was particularly known for his contribution to the PPP framework in Infrastructure.
Post that, the 50-year-old has held leadership roles across major global companies such as General Electric and Siemens. He has a MBA from Wharton School, Pennysylvania University and MTech from IIT Kanpur.
Bureaucrat-entrepreneur-turned-politician, Vaishnaw's entry in the Union cabinet comes two years after he surprised all in Odisha's political circles when he was elected to the Upper House of Parliament as a BJP candidate despite the saffron party lacking the required numbers to send a member to Rajya Sabha.
Born in Rajasthan's Jodhpur, Vaishnaw managed to wrangle support from the ruling BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik despite being in the rival camp. This happened inspite of criticism and objections by many within the ruling BJDAllegations were traded that the BJD supremo succumbed to Narendra Modi-Amit Shah's pressure in supporting Vaishnaw. He was inducted into the saffron party barely six days ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections on June 28, 2019.
During his stint as an IAS officer, Vaishnaw worked as the District Magistrate-cum Collector of Balasore and Cuttack districts. His bureaucratic acumen, in fact, came to the fore when the super cyclone hit Odisha in 1999 killing at least 10,000 people.
As collector of the coastal Balasore district, Vaishnaw collected information on the cyclone from a US Navy website and sent reports to the chief secretary at regular intervals. His information helped the state government to take advanced measures in order to save lives.
Vaishnaw worked in Odisha till 2003, before being appointed as deputy secretary in the office of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. He was later appointed as Vajpayee's private secretary after the NDA lost the election in 2004.
A product of IIT, Vaishnaw, quit government service in 2008 and went to Wharton University in USA to pursue an MBA. On his return, after working for top firms, he set up his own automotive components manufacturing units in Gujarat.
Interestingly, in April, Vaishnaw was nominated as a member of the Press Council of India, for three years.
(With PTI inputs)