Ravi Shankar Prasad
|Union Cabinet Minister, Government of India|
|30 May 2019–7 July 2021||Minister of Communications|
|5 July 2016–7 July 2021||Minister of Electronics and Information Technology|
|5 July 2016–7 July 2021||Minister of Law and Justice|
|26 May 2014–9 November 2014||Minister of Law and Justice|
|26 May 2014–5 July 2016||Minister of Communications and Information Technology|
|29 January 2003–22 May 2004||Minister of Information and Broadcasting|
|1 July 2002–29 January 2003||Minister of state in the Ministry of Law and Justice|
|1 September 2001–1 July 2002||Minister of state in the Ministry of Coal|
Minister state in the Ministry of Mines
|Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha|
|Assumed office |
23 May 2019
|Preceded by||Shatrughan Sinha|
|Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha|
3 April 2000 – 30 May 2019
|Succeeded by||Ram Vilas Paswan|
|Born||30 August 1954|
Patna, Bihar, India
|Political party||Bharatiya Janata Party|
|Alma mater||Patna University (BA, MA, LLB)|
Ravi Shankar Prasad (born 30 August 1954) is an Indian politician and a lawyer. He served as Union Minister holding the Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology and Communications portfolios between 2014 and 2021. In 2019, Prasad defeated actor turned politician Shatrughan Sinha, from Patna Sahib seat by a margin of 2.84 lakh votes. During the NDA Government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's prime ministership, Prasad was appointed Minister of Coal and Mines, Minister of Law and Justice, and Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
In 2018 according to The Economic Times he features among the top twenty influential world leaders in digital technology and e-government. Under his tenure, India significantly improved digital inclusion coverage in rural areas and his department's work on cybersecurity, data privacy, and several new e-governance activities have been considered as a cornerstone of creating a Digital India.
He was born in a religious Chitraguptvanshi Kayastha family in Patna, Bihar. His father Thakur Prasad was a senior advocate at the Patna High Court and one of the leading founders of the Jan Sangh, the predecessor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. His sister, Anuradha Prasad wife of Mr Rajeev Shukla is the owner of BAG Films and Media Ltd and former congress spokesperson.
Prasad earned BA Hons, MA (Political Science) and LL.B degrees from Patna University and has a son and a daughter.
Prasad has been practising at the Patna High Court since 1980. He was designated senior advocate at the Patna High Court in 1999 and Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India in 2000.
Prasad appeared in the Ram Janmabhoomi Ayodhya dispute representing 'Ram Lalla', the deity, in the case. He has represented former Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani and has appeared in several leading cases including Narmada Bachao Andolan case, T. N. Thirumulpad environment cases, Bihar assembly dissolution case among others.
Prasad began his political career as a student leader in the 1970s organising protests against Indira Gandhi's government and was also jailed when the emergency was imposed by Gandhi's government in 1975. He worked in the student movement in Bihar under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan and was an active volunteer of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). He was associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and ABVP for many years and held various posts in the organisations. During his college days he was Assistant General Secretary of the Patna University Students Union and member of the Senate, Finance Committee, Arts and Law Faculties of the university. Prasad has held several national-level assignments in the youth wing and the main party organisation of the BJP. Since 1995 Prasad has been a member of BJP National Executive, the party's top policymaking body. Recently, he oversaw the party's efforts in the Uttarakhand Assembly Elections.
On 3 February 1982, Prasad married Maya Shankar, who is a Historian and Professor of History at Patna University.
Ravi Shankar Prasad was appointed as Minister for Communications and IT at the time of formation of the Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In July 2016, this Ministry of bifurcated into the Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The new Ministry of Electronics and IT remained with Ravi Shankar Prasad after this bifurcation. Key achievements of Ravi Shankar Prasad as Minister for Electronics and IT is given as under:
Growth in Electronics Manufacturing : As Minister in charge of Electronics and IT Ministry, Ravi Shankar Prasad encouraged electronics manufacturing in India. In the year 2014, when Narendra Modi government took office, there were only two mobile phone manufacturing units in India. In 2019, there were 268 mobile and ancillary manufacturing units in India. Under his leadership, India became the second largest mobile phone producers in the world in 2019 from just two mobile factories in 2014. Samsung started the world's largest mobile phone manufacturing unit in Noida in 2018. Production of other consumer electronics in India also doubled in these five years.
Common Service Centers: Ravi Shankar Prasad took efforts to make Digital India an inclusive program to empower ordinary citizens of India. Common Service Centres or CSCs became a vehicle to achieve this objective. These Centers were developed as a digital service delivery kiosk in villages and one stop shop for all the digital services for people. Services like railway ticket booking, PAN application, Aadhaar enrollment, digital skilling, Ayushman Bharat Card, payment of utility bills, banking and insurance services etc. were offered through these kiosks. There were only 83,000 Common Service Centers in May, 2014. By March, 2019, 310,000 Centers were made functional across 200,000 Gram Panchayats or village clusters out of 250,000 Gram Panchayats of India. These centers created village level digital entrepreneurs, nearly 63,000 of those were women entrepreneurs. It is estimated that this also led to creation of nearly 1 million or 10 Lakh direct and indirect jobs.
StreeSwabhiman Initiative: Leveraging the vast network of Common Service Centers, Ravi Shankar Prasad encouraged manufacturing of low cost sanitary pads at these centers by rural women. More than 300 such micro sanitary pad units were started by rural entrepreneurs and it created employment for 8 to 10 rural women. Biggest impact of this initiative was in the form of spread of awareness among rural women about menstrual hygiene and the availability of low cost sanitary pads made locally. Women who manufactured these pads in their units also worked like advocacy groups in their villages and created awareness about using sanitary pads instead of other traditional methods during menstrual cycle.
Digital Literacy: Pradhan Mantri Digital SakshartaAbhiyan was started as the biggest digital literacy mission to make at least one adult in every household digitally literate. More than 2 Crore or 20 million adults were made digitally literate through this programme.
Efforts Made to Promote Emerging Technologies: Under the leadership of Ravi Shankar Prasad, India took strides to develop a domestic ecosystem in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality etc. Ministry of Electronics and IT in collaboration with Indian IT industry set up Centers of Excellence in many of these areas in different parts of India.
Promotion of Digital Services: Under the Digital India Mission, several digital services like eHospital, eVisa, National Scholarship Portal, eNAM, Umang mobile app, Jeevan Pramaan, Digi Locker, eSign, Swayam online learning platform, BHIM-UPI digital payment system, MyGov citizen engagement platform etc. were launched.
BPOs in Small Towns: To develop BPO industry in small towns by India BPO Promotion Schemes and North East BPO Promotion Schemes were launched. These schemes offered financial incentives for setting up BPOs in small towns. More than 200 BPO units started function in small towns like Patna, Muzaffarpur, Krimnagar, Sangli, Breilly, Badgam, Srinagar, Jammu, Sopore, Vellor, Guntur, Sagar, Kohima, Guwahati, Imphal etc.
Soon after taking over as a Minister for Ministry of Coal and Ministry of Mines (India), Ravi Shankar Prasad accelerated the reforms process in the mining and coal sectors. In July 2002, after taking charge of Ministry of Law and Justice (State), he prepared a bill to amend the Representation of People Act within a fortnight in 2002. In 2003, he became the information and broadcasting minister where he was responsible for introducing reforms in the radio, television, and animation which improved the quality and functioning of these sectors. He helped establish Goa as the location of the International Film Festival of India. He also led the Indian delegation to film festivals in Cannes, Venice, and London.
In April 2002, he led the Indian delegation to the Non-Aligned Movement's ministerial meet in Durban, South Africa. Later he met Yasser Arafat in Ramallah as a member of a Non-Aligned delegation to express solidarity with him. He led the Indian delegation to the Commonwealth Law Minister Summit in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He has led the Indian delegation to film festivals in Cannes, Venice and London.
Prasad filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Patna High Court against the Fodder Scam and demanded a probe by the CBI.
As Minister for Communication, he supported Public Sector Unit, BSNL, which he has hailed as a strategic asset, to compete with private sector Service Providers. He told the Parliament that the Government wants BSNL to flourish for the welfare of the poor and is serving even the remotest rural areas and is the first to provide services during disasters and emergencies.
He has adopted the village of Alawalpur under Fatuha block of Patna district as a model village to be developed under the Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana. In 2021, Ravi Shankar Prasad became the first minister with 10 lakh followers on domestic Twitter "Koo". He later turned to Koo to protest the 'locking' of his Twitter account by the platform for an hour for allegedly having violated a copyright law, the event being all the more significant as it came amid tensions between the Government of India and Twitter over a set of social media intermediary and accountability guidelines his IT Ministry had inducted.
The President of India gave his assent to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Act, 2019 on 1 August 2019.
This Law seeks to criminalize the practice of 'instant divorce' (known as triple talaq) which occurs in some parts of the Muslim community, whereby a husband can divorce his wife by a pronouncement of the word 'Talaq' three times. According to Islamic laws enforced by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board of India (AIMPLB), a non-governmental body that supervises the application of Muslim personal law, the practice of instant triple Talaq was going on in India even though it was not practiced in most Islamic nations. The AIMPLB has been criticised for being a patriarchal organisation that does not represent Muslim women.
The government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, made several attempts to bring a law to ban the practice of instant Triple Talaq in 2018 and 2019 but both the attempts failed as the government did not have majority in the upper house i.e. Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament. Opposition parties led by Indian National Congress, All India Trinamool Congress etc. opposed the reforms. However, following a third attempt, the government managed to get this law passed in Parliament in July 2019.
As the Law Minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad reintroduced the Bill in the Lok Sabha and after getting it passed from Lok Sabha, it was moved into Rajya Sabha which also passed it by a majority of 99 to 84. Subsequently, the President of India gave his assent to this Bill and it became and Act.
As per this Law, a Muslim woman who has been given instant triple Talaq can approach the Police station and lodge a criminal case against her husband. This was pitched by the government as a major social reform to empower Muslim women of India by bringing them out of the patriarchal atrocities practiced in their community.
Ravi Shankar Prasad is spearheading the Digital India programme as Minister for Electronics and Information Technology since May 2014. Recently UK based think tank Apolitical adjudged him as one of the top twenty leaders in the list of 100 most influential people in Digital Government 2018. He is the only Indian to be featured in the top twenty. He was one of the first leaders in the world who had openly supported the cause of net-neutrality and as a Minister in charge of digital affairs in India declined Facebook the permission to operate Free Basics in India. He is also known to have taken a tough stand against misuse of social media for destabilising democracy and fomenting violence in society. Led by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sent legal notices to both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Unsatisfied with their responses, he ordered the criminal investigation in this data theft episode by India's apex crime investigation body, the Central Bureau of Investigation. When incidents of mob violence were reported in a few parts of India by viral circulation of fake messages on Whatsapp, he took a firm stand against Whatsapp and demanded technological solutions to curb the problem of fake messages leading to violence. While responding to a debate in the Indian Parliament he openly supported the role of social media in giving a means of expression to ordinary people that they are happily using to question the politicians and media editors, he warned the social media platforms against any misuse of the platform for encouraging violence and terror. Responding to the legal notice served by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Whatsapp took several steps such as mentioning the word forwarded on every message that was forwarded by a user. Whatsapp has also restricted the number of forwarded messages to a maximum of five. Besides these stern regulatory measures that were taken under the leadership of Ravi Shankar Prasad, he is also known for promoting digital development in the rural areas of India by creating a network of 300,000 village level digital entrepreneurs who are operating digital service delivery kiosks known as the Common Service Centers across India. This has not only ensured the availability of digital services in rural areas but has also created job opportunities for 1.2 million rural youth.