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IIT, IAS to Wharton: 10 Facts About Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s New Rail & IT Minister

IIT Kanpur alumnus and former IAS officer Ashwini Vaishnaw has been inducted into the Union cabinet as India's new railway and IT Minister. Here are 10 things you need to know about him.

IIT, IAS to Wharton: 10 Facts About Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s New Rail & IT Minister

There are 36 new appointees in the Government of India’s recent cabinet shuffle, of which 18 hold high educational qualifications including degrees in engineering, MBA, MBBS, law and more. 

Among the set of ministers is Odisha Rajya Sabha MP Ashwini Vaishnaw, who has been given charge of the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Piyush Goyal and Ravishankar Prasad occupied these two ministries previously. 

ashwini vaishnaw
Ashwini Vaishnaw

An alumnus of IIT and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Vaishnaw is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer (1994-batch) who has held significant positions in the corporate world as well. 

“He (Vaishnaw) was a copybook officer [and] never kept work pending. [He] talks little, and did not belong to any faction in bureaucracy. Though he stayed mostly outside Odisha, his Odia speaking skills are proof of his eagerness to learn,” former Odisha chief secretary Sahadev Sahoo, who worked with Vaishnaw, told Hindustan Times. 

Here are 10 things to know about Vaishnaw:

  1. Born in Jodhpur Rajasthan, the 51-year-old was a bright student. He completed his education from the state board. He holds a B Tech degree in Electronics and Communications from Jai Narain Vyas University. He cracked the CET and secured admission in IIT-Kanpur in 1992.
  2. Vaishnaw appeared for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams and cleared them in 1994 with an All-India Rank of 27. 
  3. His first posting was in Cuttack and over a span of 15 years, Vaishnaw served in various regions including districts of Balasore and Sundargarh. He was also appointed as Deputy Secretary in former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s office in 2004.
  4. As a collector of the Balasore district, when the super cyclone hit Odisha in 1999, he used the information on cyclone patterns from a US Navy website to alert and update the chief secretary. This helped the state machinery take relief and preventive measures accordingly. The timely evacuations helped save 10,000 lives. 
  5. According to reports, as a deputy secretary to Vajpayee, Vaishnaw worked on the public-private partnership model of developing infrastructure. 
  6. In 2006, he joined Mormugao Port Trust, Goa as its Deputy Chairman and developed a coal import terminal, cruise terminal and three mooring dolphins. He also set up a privatised container business. 
  7. In 2008, Vaishnaw quit the administration to pursue an MBA degree from Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. He joined GE Transportation as a senior executive on his return to India. His next job was at Siemens as the Vice President of Locomotives & Head of Urban Infrastructure Strategy. Both his profiles gave him insight into the functioning of Indian Railways. 
  8. Four years later, he set up two automotive manufacturing units in Gujarat – the Three Tee Auto Logistics Private Limited and Vee Gee Auto Components Private Limited. 
  9. He quit his corporate career and entered politics in 2019 and was elected as a Rajya Sabha MP. 
  10. According to certain reports, he was a nominated member of the Press Council of India for three years and was awarded the President’s Silver Medal, Commendation by the National Human Rights Commission.

All images are sourced from Ashwini Vaishnaw/ Twitter

Edited by Divya Sethu 

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