Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing in the current Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She is a member of Shiromani Akali Dal. She started her political career with the Indian general election, 2009. She was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha from the Bhatinda constituency after defeating an Indian National Congress candidate by 120960 votes. She was re-elected as MP from Bathinda in 2014 after defeating Indian National Congress-People’s Party of Punjab joint candidate.
Mrs Badal started a project named “Nanhi Chhaan” in 2008, a not for profit organization set up with the objective of addressing issues relating to an adverse gender ratio, environmental degradation and secularism so as to restore nature’s balance. They distribute small saplings to people and encourage them to plant them as a symbol to welcome newly born daughters, daughter-in-laws in their households and to refrain from female foeticide. Nanhi Chhaan also helps in setting up self-help groups (SHGs) for women to spread awareness about female foeticide and other issues such as dealing with cancer, agriculture, farmer’s issues, environmental issues and depleting forest cover. These SHGs also aim at empowering women in rural areas by helping them to collectively set up small businesses and manage their savings in a more efficient manner.
She also launched an initiative “Saanjh” under which hundreds of textiles training centres were opened and thousands of girls from rural Punjab are trained every year and imparted training in traditional embroidery art ‘Phulkari’ and ‘Durry’ making as a means of making them financially independent.
Recently she announced the establishment of a business incubation training centre at the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) in Bathinda to help farmers. She appealed to farmers to participate in a training camp to get to know about food-processing industry schemes. Workshops would give a chance to progressive farmers who want to avail loans to start their own businesses, be it fish farming, bee-keeping or dairies. The workshop would provide loans to farmers with built-in subsidy and impart knowledge about marketing their produce. They also would get the opportunity to meet firms and companies who would assist them in marketing their goods.
Just a few days ago she inaugurated two mega food parks in Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. They’re over 50-acre big and were set up at a cost of about 100 crore each. They aim to benefit around 25,000 farmers in their regions and neighbouring districts. These park also have facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms. She was also actively involved in getting a 100% increase in the budget allocation of food processing, from 715 crore to 1400 crore for the fiscal year of 2018 with the aim to boost farmers income and generate million of new jobs.
Sushma Swaraj is an Indian politician, former Supreme Court lawyer, the current Minister of External Affairs of India and one of the main leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party. She is the second woman to be India’s Minister of External Affairs, after Indira Gandhi. She has been elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. She became the youngest cabinet minister of Haryana, at the age of 25 in 1977. In the 2014 Indian general election, she won the Vidisha constituency in Madhya Pradesh for a second term, retaining her seat by a margin of over 400,000 votes. Recently she was called India’s ‘best-loved politician’ by the US daily Wall Street Journal.
Mrs Sushma Swaraj has had a very long and strong political career. She has held numerous powerful positions through the years; Cabinet Minister, Labour and Employment, Government of Haryana; Cabinet Minister, Education, Food and Civil Supplies, Government of Haryana; Union Cabinet Minister, Information and Broadcasting; Union Cabinet Minister, Information and Broadcasting and Telecommunications; Minister of Information and Broadcasting; Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, etc.
She is an articulate and remarkable speaker and also a great campaigner. Many objections against Indira Gandhi’s Government were well ordered and organized by her. She was also actively involved in the campaigns held against The Emergency from 1975 to 1977. In 1996, during the 13 day government under Prime Minister Vajpayee, she took a drastic step of telecasting live Lok Sabha debates.
As the Information and Broadcasting Minister in 1988, she liberated the film industry as she paved the journey of film production to legally make it to an industry, when she declared that the Indian film industry was eligible for bank finance. During her tenure as Union Health Minister from January 2003 to May 2004 she helped open up 6 All India Institute of Medical Sciences, at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh. She also played a major role in passing the Telangana Bill which led to the formation of a separate state Telangana.
In recent times, among all political leaders, she has been the most accessible leader, particularly through Twitter. She has often responded to tweets sent directly to her by Indians in distress abroad and has intervened personally to help them. She has helped many people through her position as an external affairs minister, like rescuing and evacuating a woman held in South Africa, helping a two year infant to be airlifted from Bhopal to Delhi to undergo a critical heart surgery, helping out a woman who lost her passport and money in Germany and helping 168 Indians held as hostage in Iraq.
Her ministry helped rescue many people caught in the Yemen crisis, offered help to a man to recover his passport and advance money, offered swift response team support during the Nepal Earthquake, and helped a bride with a duplicate passport when she had lost her original one, so that she could fly overseas with her husband for their honeymoon. Early in 2017, she said that she will personally monitor embassies’ and other authorities’ responses to calls for aid.