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IT Minister Watch: A continuous timeline of India’s IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s tenure

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Credit: Aditi Agrawal

The new appointment was part of a major Cabinet reshuffle directed by the President of India, as advised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, a native of Jodhpur and a former alumnus of IIT Kanpur and Wharton Business School, was recently appointed as the new Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology. In his first few days as a minister, Vaishnaw has conducted a few review meetings and also given an indication of how he might deal with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and its various requirements. This running report by MediaNama will document key policy statements/announcements made by the cabinet minister from here on:

July 7, 2021: Vaishnaw takes charge

Former IAS officer and Wharton Business School alumni Ashwini Vaishnaw takes charge as the Minister in the Ministry for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ministry of Communications, and Ministry of Railways.

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July 8, 2021: Law of the land should be abided by everyone: Vaishnaw

After taking charge, while speaking to media persons, Vaishnaw says, “The law of the land should be abided by everyone.” This statement comes amid a tussle between the Indian government and Twitter regarding the IT Rules 2021. Vaishnaw’s predecessor and Lok Sabha MP RS Prasad had been unwavering in his stance and criticised the social media platform multiple times for not complying with the rules. Vaishnaw also meets RS Prasad on the same day along with the newly-appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications Devusinh Chauhan.

July 9, 2021: Review meeting on Digital India

Vaishnaw conducts a review meeting on the Digital India program along with the newly-appointed Minister for State in MeitY Rajeev Chandrasekhar and other officials. This comes nearly a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a virtual event to mark the completion of six years of Digital India, said data and demographic dividends along with tech capabilities present a massive opportunity for the country.

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July 10, 2021: Review meeting on C-DAC

Vaishnaw conducts a review meeting for the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) along with the newly-appointed Minister for State in MeitY Rajeev Chandrashekhar. The CDAC is responsible for taking up IT-related research, creating cyber awareness, and so on. Ajay Prakash Sawhney, secretary in MeitY, was also present at the meeting.

July 11, 2021: Vaishnaw’s first post on Koo about IT Rules

Vaishnaw joins the social media platform, Koo. In his first update on the platform which was the first to announce that it had complied with the IT Rules 2021, Vaishnaw says, “Reviewed the implementation and compliance of Information Technology Rules, 2021 along with my colleague Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar ji. These guidelines are empowering and protecting users and will ensure a safer and responsible social media ecosystem in India.” Koo has often been positioned as a competitor to Twitter. Recently, after Nigeria banned Twitter in the country, the country opened an official account on the India-made social media platform.

July 12, 2021: Prasad’s message for Vaishnaw

Former Union IT Minister and Lok Sabha MP RS Prasad lauds Vaishnaw for his comments on the IT Rules made on Koo, and mentions that Twitter has taken steps to comply with the IT Rules. During the hearing of the Amit Acharya vs Twitter at Delhi High Court recently, the social media platform assured the court that it would soon make the necessary appointments in compliance with the IT Rules 2021. The company has now appointed Vinay Prakash as the interim grievance redressal officer.

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