Amid concerns over the third wave, a major overhaul in the health ministry
Dr Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday was asked to step down as the Union Health Minister ahead of the cabinet reshuffle of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government. Along with Harsh Vardhan, his deputy Ashwini Chaube also submitted his resignation from the office.
As per media reports, their resignation has come in the backdrop of the massive criticism faced by the Modi government for its handling and management of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
India is still recovering from the devastating repercussions of the second wave of the pandemic that brought the country’s healthcare infrastructure to its knees during April-May.
The second wave crippled the Indian healthcare system with thousands of patients battling for basic medical facilities such as beds, oxygen, ventilators, and medicines in hospitals. Hundreds of patients died due to insufficient medical facilities in both private and public hospitals across various states.
As India struggled to overcome the impact of COVID-19 in early 2021, Harsh Vardhan drew flak for a largely indifferent approach towards the health crisis. His statements and strategies in the middle of the pandemic were often condemned by the public and critics as insensitive and unfit in line with the ground situation.
The health ministry also faced criticism for a number of decisions it took in terms of the management of the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to states across the country.
The former health minister also invited criticism for endorsing the unproven COVID-19 remedy created by Patanjali alongside Baba Ramdev at the early onset of the deadly second wave in the country.
Analysts also argue that the appointment of a new Heath Minister has come as an indirect admission by the Modi government of the failure of Harsh Vardhan and his team in handling the pandemic crisis.
Meanwhile, the Modi government has appointed Mansukh Mandaviya as the new Union Health Minister of India, as part of the cabinet expansion on Wednesday.
Amid the warnings of a potential third wave in India in August-September, PM Modi appears to be working on a major government reset to effectively handle the approaching crisis.
Mandaviya has taken over the portfolio at a time when the government has strengthened its national vaccination campaign and efforts to combat the pandemic crisis. The Prime Minister, senior officials of NITI Aayog, and other key agencies on COVID-19 have also taken charge of the country’s fight against the pandemic to better handle the situation.