Ravi Shankar Prasad

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Ravi Shankar Prasad
Ravi Shankar Prasad
Minister of Electronics and Information Technology
Assumed office
19 July 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Deputy S S Ahluwalia
Preceded by Ministry formed
Minister of Law and Justice
Assumed office
5 July 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Preceded by D. V. Sadananda Gowda
In office
26 May 2014 – 9 November 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Preceded by Kapil Sibal
Succeeded by D. V. Sadananda Gowda
Minister of Communications
In office
26 May 2014 – 5 July 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Preceded by Kapil Sibal
Succeeded by Manoj Sinha
MP of Rajya Sabha for Bihar
Assumed office
3 April 2012
Personal details
Born (1954-08-30) 30 August 1954 (age 64)
Patna, Bihar, India
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s) Maya
Alma mater Patna University
Profession Lawyer

Ravi Shankar Prasad (born 30 August 1954) is an Indian lawyer, politician and the current Union Minister holding Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology portfolio in the Government of India.[1] A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Prasad represents the state of Bihar as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha.[2] During the NDA Government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's prime ministership, Prasad held the position of Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal and Mines, the Ministry of Law and Justice, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.[3] He is also a designated senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India.

Early life and education

Prasad was born in Patna, Bihar.[4] His father Thakur Prasad was a senior advocate at the Patna High Court and one of the leading founders of the Jan Sangh, the predecessor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. His sister, Anuradha Prasad wife of Mr Rajeev Shukla is the owner of BAG Films and Media Ltd. which owns many television channels, including highly popular News 24 and E 24. Mr.

Prasad earned BA Hons, MA (Political Science) and LL.B degrees from Patna University and has a son and a daughter.[5]

Law career

Prasad has been practising at the Patna High Court since 1980. He was designated senior advocate at the Patna High Court in 1999 and Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India in 2000.[6]

Prasad was the main lawyer arguing the PIL against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam that led to the jailing of several politicians and officials, including Lalu Prasad. He is the lawyer in the Ayodhya Ram temple title suit case representing 'Ram Lalla', the deity, in the case. He has represented former Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani and has appeared in several leading cases including Narmada Bachao Andolan Case, T. N. Thirumulpad environment cases, Bihar assembly dissolution case among others.[7]

Political career

Prasad began his political career as a student leader in the 1970s organising protests against Indira Gandhi's government and was also jailed when the emergency was imposed by Gandhi's government in 1975. He worked in the student movement in Bihar under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan and was an active volunteer of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). He was associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and ABVP for many years and held various posts in the organisations. During his college days he was Assistant General Secretary of the Patna University Students Union and member of the Senate, Finance Committee, Arts and Law Faculties of the University.[5] Prasad has held several national-level assignments in the youth wing and the main party organisation of the BJP. Since 1995 Prasad has been a member of BJP National Executive, the party's top policymaking body. Recently, he oversaw the party's efforts in the Uttarakhand Assembly Elections.

Timeline from 1995-2014

August 1995: Became Member, National Executive Committee, Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.)

August 1996 : The infamous Fodder Scam came into lime light in Bihar. Filed Public Interest Litigation in Patna High Court and demanded a probe by the CBI.

April 2000 : Elected to Rajya Sabha for the first time.

June 2001 : National Convener Legal Cell, BJP.

September 2001: Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal and Mines.

July 2002: Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice (Additional charge).

January 2003: Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India)

August 2005: Appointed as the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

March 2006: Elected to Rajya Sabha for the second time.

August 2006: Member, Standing Committee on Information Technology

September 2006: Member, Consultative Committee for Ministry of External Affairs (India)

October 2009: Member, Executive Council of the Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies.

August 2009: Member, Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Finance (India)

April 2010: All India General Secretary & Chief National Spokesperson of BJP.

March 2011: Became Member, Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine matters relating to allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum.

April 2012: Elected to the Rajya Sabha for the third time.

May 2012: Became Deputy Leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajya Sabha.

May 2013: Became Member of the Committee on Privileges of Parliament of India.

May 2014: Took oath as Union Minister for Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Law and Justice (India), Government of India.

Personal life

On 3 February 1982, Prasad married Maya Shankar, who is a Historian and Professor of History at Patna University.[6][8]

Roles Upheld as a Minister in Government of India

Minister of State for Coal and Mines

Prasad's first ministerial assignment was in the capacity of Minister of State for Coal and Mines between 2001 and 2003 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Prime-ministership. This was on the backdrop of huge losses suffered by Coal India (CIL). As a first time Minister, its revival was a major challenge before him. In a year's time, it began to earn profits.

Minister of State for Law and Justice

His performance as a Minister for Ministry of Coal and Ministry of Mines (India) and a spectacular record as an eminent lawyer earned him higher responsibilities. Prime Minister Vajpayee entrusted him with the additional responsibility of handling the important ministry of Law and Justice as a Minister of State. In this capacity Ravi Shankar Prasad played an active role in speeding up the establishment of Fast Track courts in India for ensuring speedy justice to people. He also steered the amendments in the Representation of People Act, which was prepared in a short duration of 15 days and was promulgated by way of an Ordinance on 24 August 2002. These amendments made it mandatory for a candidate contesting elections to provide information as to whether he was booked for any offence punishable with imprisonment for two years or more and whether he was convicted or imprisoned for more than a year. This further amended the Act and made it mandatory for a person elected to the Parliament or State Legislature to disclose his assets and liabilities within ninety days of taking oath. These reforms were crucial to arrest the influence of crime and money in Indian politics.

Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting (Independent Charge)

Performance of Ravi Shankar Prasad as a Minister of State earned him the confidence of the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was given an independent charge of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. In this capacity Ravi Shankar Prasad pioneered the following changes:

Ushering India into Digital TV era: As the Union Minister for Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India), Ravi Shankar Prasad’s pioneering efforts laid the foundations of digital TV in India. His efforts to introduce the Conditional Access System of satellite TV telecast not only ended the conventional cable TV era but also offered better choices before the viewers. With the introduction of Conditional Access System (CAS), the viewers were offered choices to pay only for the channels they desired to watch. This ended the monopolistic and unhealthy trade practices of cable operators and made cable TV more affordable to the common people. This also ensured that viewers get rid to low quality cable telecast and get to watch television programs in high quality digital contents. His efforts to rationalize the entire cable TV business witnessed huge resistance from the cable TV operator lobbies. However, he was committed to roll out the much needed reforms and decided to move ahead despite resistance. Thus India entered into an era of digital TV telecast at an economical and affordable cost. Gradually, this led to the introduction of the Direct to Home or DTH technology of television telecast. Today, due to healthy market competition and affordable DTH services, the pioneer efforts of Ravi Shankar Prasad has taken a shape of revolution. DTH has ensured that variety of national and international television channels can be accessed from any part of the country. FM Radio Revolution: FM radio offered high quality radio services as compared to noise infested AM telecast. Efforts made by Ravi Shankar Prasad as the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister for liberalizing the FM radio services led to entry of multiple private players into this sector. It not only offered multiple choices to the customers but also opened business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Today, FM radio business and grown into a thriving business creating great job opportunities for young professionals. This has also led the country into an era of localized FM radio broadcasting, thereby promoting and popularizing folk music and protecting India’s diverse cultural heritage.

International Film Festival of India (IIFF) shifted to Goa: India International Film Festival is an annual event for showcasing and celebrating Indian cinema’s achievements and sharing it with the global trends in cinema. This event used to take place at New Delhi. However, as the Union Information & Broadcasting Minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad felt the need to re-branding this annual event and make it more popular among the international film fraternity. Goa, the popular tourist destination of India having a long and beautiful sea shore on the Arabian Sea, was felt to be the most suitable destination to host the Indian International Film Festival. He decided to take this festival to Goa. This not only changed the complexion of the entire Film Festival but also drew more and more international participation.

Corporatization of the Indian Film Industry: Indian Cinema which had recently got the Industry status was exploring options for institutional finances. The efforts made by Ravi Shankar Prasad led to corporatization of Indian Cinema. Access to institutional finance, corporatization of production houses, insurance benefits to films and people associated with the film industry and easier access to modern technology gave great impetus to the growth of Indian cinema. This drastically cut down the influence of illegal source of film financing and malice associated with that.

Achievements

Soon after taking over as a Minister for Ministry of Coal and Ministry of Mines (India), Ravi Shankar Prasad accelerated the reforms process in the mining and coal sectors. In July 2002, he was given the charge of Ministry of Law and Justice (State). He prepared a bill to amend the Representation of People Act with in a fortnight in 2002. In 2003, he became the information and broadcasting minister. He is responsible for introducing reforms in the radio, television and animation which improved the quality and functioning of these sectors. He helped establish Goa as the location of the International Film Festival of India. He also led the Indian delegation to film festivals in Cannes, Venice and London.

In April 2002, he led the Indian delegation to the Non-Aligned Movement's ministerial meet in Durban, South Africa. Later he met Yasser Arafat in Ramallah as a member of a Non-Aligned delegation to express solidarity with him. He led the Indian delegation to the Commonwealth Law Minister Summit in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He has led the Indian delegation to film festivals in Cannes, Venice and London.

The infamous Fodder Scam came into lime light in Bihar. Filed Public Interest Litigation in Patna High Court and demanded a probe by the CBI.

He has adopted the village of Alawalpur under Fatuha block of Patna district as a model village to be developed under the Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana


Leading Global Leader Shaping Digital Future

Ravi Shankar Prasad is spearheading the Digital India program as Minister for Electronics and Information Technology since May 2014. Recently UK based think tank Apolitical adjudged him as one of the top twenty leaders in the list of 100 most influential people in Digital Government 2018. He is the only Indian to be featured in the top twenty. He was one of the first leaders in the world who had openly supported the cause of net-neutrality and as a Minister in charge of digital affairs in India declined Facebook the permission to operate Free Basics in India. This literally saved Internet in India from getting robbed of its neutrality in India. He is also known to have taken a tough stand against misuse of social media for destabilising democracy and fomenting violence in society. He had exposed the unholy nexus between leading opposition political Party of India and unethical data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica that had stolen the Facebook data of Indian users for profiling voters and influencing them by sending misleading political information and fake news. Led by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sent legal notices to both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Unsatisfied with their responses, he ordered the criminal investigation in this data theft episode by India's apex crime investigation body the Central Bureau of Investigation. When incidents of mob violence were reported in few parts of India by viral circulation of fake messages on Whatsapp, he took a firm stand against Whatsapp and demanded technological solutions to curb the menace of fake messages leading to violence. While responding to a debate in the Indian Parliament he openly supported the role of social media in giving a means of expression to ordinary people that they are happily using to question the politicians and media editors, he warned the social media platforms against any misuse of the platform for fomenting violence and terror. Responding to the legal notice served by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Whatsapp took several steps such as mentioning the word forwarded on every message that was forwarded by an user. Whatsapp has also restricted the number of forwarded messages to a maximum of five. Besides these stern regulatory measures that were taken under the leadership of Ravi Shankar Prasad, he is also known for promoting digital development in the rural areas of India by creating a network of 300,000 village level digital entrepreneurs who are operating digital service delivery kiosks known as the Common Service Centers across India. This has not only ensured the availability of digital services in rural areas but has also created job opportunities for 1.2 million rural youth.

[9]

[10]

[11]

References

  1. ^ "Sexual preference can be a personal choice, says Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad".
  2. ^ "Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad assumes charge of the Law & Justice Ministry". India: Press Information Bureau. Archived from the original on 1 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Ravi Shankar Prasad set to become BJP deputy leader in RS". The Times of India. PTI. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  4. ^ Vyas, Hari Shankar (7 April 2013). "Brahmins in Congress on tenterhooks". The Pioneer. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Ravi Shankar Prasad: The new telecom minister may find his hands full". www.firstpost.in. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Prasad Returns to Union Cabinet with a Bag of Experience". The New Indian Express. PTI. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Team Modi: Ravi Shankar Prasad – Lawyer of 'Ram Lalla'". India Today. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Interview: Anuradha Prasad, Managing Director, BAG films". www.bestmediainfo.com. Best Media Info. Archived from the original on 13 January 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  9. ^ apolitical "World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government", Retrieved on 09 August 2018.
  10. ^ net-neutrality "Net neutrality: Ravi Shankar Prasad says right of internet access is ‘non-negotiable’", Retrieved on 23 November 2017.
  11. ^ cambridgeanalytica "CBI to probe Cambridge Analytica data breach case, says Ravi Shankar Prasad ", Retrieved on 26 July 2018.

External links

  • Profile on Rajya Sabha's website
Political offices
Preceded by
Kapil Sibal
Minister of Law and Justice
26 May 2014 - 9 November 2014
Succeeded by
D. V. Sadananda Gowda
Minister of Communications and Information Technology
26 May 2014 – Present
Incumbent
Preceded by
D. V. Sadananda Gowda
Minister of Law and Justice
5 July 2016 - Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
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