INDIA: Minister Kiren Rijiju, who took over as Minister of Earth Sciences on Friday, stated that he did not see his removal from the Law Ministry as “punishment” for his frequently vehement criticism of the judiciary.
On Thursday, Rijiju unexpectedly lost his position as minister of law and was given the portfolio for the Ministry of Earth Sciences. He was replaced by Arjun Ram Meghwal.
After taking over on Friday, a reporter questioned him in Hindi, “Minister, where do you think you went wrong in the Law Ministry?”
In the same language, the minister responded, “Why do you think this is because of something I did wrong? It’s simply a matter of the Prime Minister assigning responsibility to different ministers in his wisdom, and it shouldn’t be interpreted any other way.”
When pushed further, Rijiju stated that he would like not to talk about “politics” and that he was eager to concentrate on learning about the Earth Sciences Ministry and his new duties.
Announcing the portfolio switch, Minister Rijiju tweeted, “With great humility, I’ve taken charge as Minister of Earth Sciences at New Delhi. Had first briefing meeting with Senior officers & Senior Scientists of the Ministry’s various organisations.”
For the first time, the minister in charge of the Earth Sciences Ministry—the youngest of the scientific ministries, established in 2006—will not also be in charge of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Dr Jitendra Singh is still the minister of science and technology, and he also holds independent responsibility for the portfolios of pensions, atomic energy, and space. He is a junior minister in the prime minister’s office.
The Earth Sciences Ministry is the nodal ministry implementing the Samudrayaan mission, a flagship mission thought to be analogous to the space-faring Gaganyaan mission, where India hopes to send three humans to a depth of 6 km into the ocean in an indigenously designed submersible before 2025.
Under its structure, the Earth Sciences Ministry is comprised of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and a number of autonomous research entities.