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Harsh Vardhan minister again in Narendra Modi cabinet

New Delhi: Doctor-turned-politician Harsh Vardhan, who handled three portfolios in the last NDA government and initiated a crucial national programme to tackle air pollution, has made his way to the Narendra Modi cabinet for a second consecutive time.

Vardhan was appointed Minister of Health and Family Welfare during the Modi government’s first stint in 2014 and later, given the charge of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Ministry of Science and Technology.

In May 2017, he was given the additional charge of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change following the death of Union minister Anil Madhav Dave.

Lok Sabha from the Chandni Chowk seat

The sixty-four-year-old was reelected to the Lok Sabha from the Chandni Chowk seat, winning it by a margin of over 2 lakh votes this time.

Vardhan as an environment minister initiated the Green Good Deeds Movement in 2018 in which he appealed to organisations and the people to take small positive actions to strengthen the cause of environmental protection.

Under his leadership, the environment ministry also launched the National Clean Air Programme that aims to reduce toxic particulate matter by 2024.In this regard, plans for 84 cities are ready and the committee formed for it has already met and taken stock of the situation.

In his tenure as science and technology minister, Vardhan also faced flak for his off the cuff comments.

Indian Science Congress

In the Indian Science Congress held at Manipur in 2018, Vardhan had claimed that cosmologist Stephen Hawking had said the Vedas have a theory that is superior to Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

For this remark, he had faced criticism from the scientific community.

Vardhan, an ENT specialist and a former five-time MLA from East Delhi’s Krishna Nagar, also faced criticism from environmentalists for denying a report that estimated 1.2 million annual deaths in India due to air pollution.

He had said the report released by the Health Effects Institute was intended to create panic.

During his tenure as the health minister of Delhi from 1993-1998, he had undertaken a polio prevention programme which was emulated at the national level. He was awarded the Director-General’s Polio Eradication Champion Award Commendation Medal by the World Health Organization in 1998.

Vardhan was at the forefront of the battle against tobacco and drug abuse and was instrumental in the enactment of several laws including the Delhi Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places and Non-Smokers Health Protection Act to tackle these problems.

Subsequent to this the Supreme Court had directed all states to replicate this law and 12 states enacted similar laws.

He, for the first time implemented the Rational Drug Policy which was recognised by the WHO as the Delhi Model and was adopted by many countries.

An MBBS and MS from GSVM Medical College in Kanpur, from where he specialised in ENT, Vardhan did his schooling in the Anglo-Sanskrit Victoria Jubilee Senior Secondary School in Daryaganj, Delhi.

Vardhan joined the Indian Medical Association’s Delhi Chapter in 1984 and also held various posts in the Delhi Medical Association – from Secretary and President (East Delhi) to State Secretary and President.

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