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Jairam Ramesh



A glass door – that was the first change economist turned politician Jairam Ramesh made to his office cabin when he took charge as India’s Minister of Environment and Forests in 2009. It was more than symbolic: he transformed the ministry to one actively engaging with the thorniest dilemma confronting India: the conflict over growth and resources. He changed development discourse by halting mega industry projects – Vedanta, Lavasa – because basic environment laws were flouted, and was India’s chief climate change negotiator at Copenhagen.

Now Jairam is back in the news in his role as rural development minister and Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, drawing the ire of both friends and foes with his recent statement that there are more temples than toilets in the country. Kicking off a 51-day, 5-state yatra to spread awareness about sanitation facilities, the initiative hopes to reach 9 crore people but the early controversy promises that in this avatar, too, Jairam will have no easy task.

An alumnus of Carnegie Mellon and MIT, he served as advisor to the PM, and later the Finance Minister in the early 90s. He has also served as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission from 1992-94.

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