Modi shakeup sees IT minister Prasad resign

Modi shakeup sees IT minister Prasad resign

08 July 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

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Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister has completed a complete reshuffle of his cabinet seeing 36 new ministers appointed.

Touted as his biggest government shake up since entering the role back in 2014, at least 12 cabinet members, including IT and health ministers, resigned ahead of the restructure and now sees the new cabinet stand at 77 ministers, up from the previous 52.

According to sources, some of the newly appointed members of his cabinet include, Mansukh Mandaviya to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Jyotiraditya Scindia to the Civil Aviation ministry; Kiren Rijiju to the Law and Justice Ministry; Anurag Thakur to head up Information and Broadcasting; Dharmendra Pradhan to the Education ministry; Sarbananda Sonowal to the Ports, Shipping and Waterways ministry; and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to the Ministry of Cooperation, to name a few.

As part of this reorganisation the shake-up saw Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and the Communication Ministry resign from his role. Prasad has been a longstanding advocate of tougher regulations for big tech and social media in the country.

During his tenure he ushered in a new set of IT rules that came into effect in February if this year, that has seen Twitter lose its immunity over content posted on its platform by third parties in India, due to failure to meet the new conditions.

Under the new rules every social media company must create three roles in India: a "compliance officer" who will ensure they follow local laws; a "grievance officer" who will address complaints from Indian users, and a "contact person" available to Indian law enforcement 24/7.

In addition, the social media companies will also have to publish a compliance report every month detailing how many complaints they received and what action they took.

Twitter says it is in the process of filling these three roles which may take a few months to fill and "we have assured the Government of India that Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new guidelines, and an overview on our progress has been duly shared. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian government."

Taking over from Prasad as the new IT Minster is Ashwini Vaishnaw, who seems to be taking a similar line as his predecessor saying that the law of the land is supreme and Twitter must follow the rules.

The news comes ahead of ahead of state elections including the hotly contested state of Uttar Pradesh. The move also comes in response to criticism of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the struggling economy.