Ravi Shanker Prasad has been allocated the cabinet portfolios of communications, law and justice and electronics and IT in the Union Council of Ministers announced by the President of India today.
Prasad, a Supreme Court senior advocate who served four terms in the Rajya Sabha, contested his first Lok Sabha election in 2019, locking horns with actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha who had won from the Patna Sahib seat in Bihar in 2009 and 2014. However, Prasad tasted victory in the seat with over six lakh votes. The former minister for Law and Justice, and Electronics and Information Technology, Prasad has held cabinet portfolios in all BJP governments starting from Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Born on August 30, 1954 Ravi Shanker Prasad is a designated senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India. 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. He is also a designated senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India.
Early life and education
Prasad was born 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 Rajeev Shukla is the owner of BAG Films and Media Ltd. which owns many television channels, including highly popular News 24 and E 24.
Prasad earned BA Hons, MA (Political Science) and LL.B degrees from Patna University and has a son and a daughter.
Law career. 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 was the main lawyer arguing the PIL against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam that led to the jailing of several politicians and officials, including Lalu Prasad. He is the lawyer in the Ayodhya Ram temple title suitcase 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.
Political career. Prasad began his political career as a student leader in the 1970s organizing protests against Indira Gandhi’s government and was also jailed when the emergency was imposed by the Gandhi 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.
Timeline from 1995-2014
August 1995. Became Member, National Executive Committee, Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)
August 1996. The infamous Fodder Scam came into limelight in Bihar. Filed Public Interest Litigation in Patna High Court and demanded a probe by the CBI.
April 2000. Elected to Rajya Sabha for the first time.
June 2001. National Convener Legal Cell, BJP.
September 2001. Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal and Mines.
July 2002. Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice (Additional charge).
January 2003. Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India)
August 2005. Appointed as the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
March 2006. Elected to Rajya Sabha for the second time.
August 2006. Member, Standing Committee on Information Technology
September 2006. Member, Consultative Committee for Ministry of External Affairs (India)
October 2009. Member, Executive Council of the Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies.
August 2009. Member, Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Finance (India)
April 2010. All India General Secretary & Chief National Spokesperson of BJP.
March 2011. Became Member, Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine matters relating to allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum.
April 2012. Elected to the Rajya Sabha for the third time.
May 2012. Became Deputy Leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajya Sabha.
May 2013. Became Member of the Committee on Privileges of Parliament of India.
May 2014. Took oath as Union Minister for Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Law and Justice (India), Government of India.
On February 3, 1982, Prasad married Maya Shankar, a historian and professor of history at Patna University.
Roles Upheld as a Minister in Government of India
Minister for Electronics and Information Technology (May 26, 2014 – May 23, 2019)
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 was bifurcated into 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.
- Stree Swabhiman 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 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.
Minister of Law & Justice
Ravi Shankar Prasad was appointed as Cabinet Minister for Law and Justice and Communication and IT on May 26, 2014 in the Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He continued as Minister for Law and Justice till 08th November 2014. On July 6, 2016, he was once again given the responsibility of Law and Justice Ministry. Some of the key highlights of the works done during this stint are as under:
- National Judicial Appointment Commission: National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill which sought to amend the process of appointment of judges in higher judiciary was pending for approval by the Parliament for nearly 20 years. Ravi Shankar Prasad took the responsibility of building political consensus on this very important subject and steered the discussion on this Bill in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed by both the houses of the Parliament without a single vote cast against the Bill. Subsequently, the Bill was passed by 50% of the state legislative assemblies as well. The President of India gave his assent to the Bill and it became an Act on December 31, 2014.
- Repealing of Obsolete Laws: As per the promise of BJP in its manifesto, a special effort was made to repeal obsolete laws. 1824 redundant central laws were identified for repealing and 1428 laws were repealed. 229 laws of various state governments were sent to state governments for repealing.
- Banning Instant Triple Talaq: Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriages) Bill 2017 was passed by Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017. However, despite many efforts this bill was not passed in Rajya Sabha due to opposition from Congress and other political parties. Subsequently, an ordinance was brought to implement the provisions of this Act and make the practice of instant triple Talaq illegal and criminal act. This provided a big relief to the Muslim women who were suffering from the evil practice of instant triple Talaq or Talaq-e-Biddat.
- Additional Posts of Judges of High Courts Created: Total sanctioned strength of judges in High Courts in May, 2014 was 906. This increased to 1079 in May, 2018. Overall 173 new posts of judges were created during 2014-18. During the five-year period of 2009-14, only 20 new posts of High Court judges were created.
- Increase in Judicial Officers in Subordinate Judiciary: Sanction strength of judicial officers/ judges increased by 2,770 during 2014-18. Sanction strength of judicial officers in December, 2013 was 19,518 which increased to 22,474 in December 2018. Working strength of judicial officers/ judges in December, 2013 was 15,115 which increased to 16,728 in December, 2018.
- Infrastructure Development in Judiciary: Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for development of infrastructure of judiciary, Rs. 2,656 Crore were released during 2014-18. During the period 1993-2013, a totally of Rs. 3,444 Crore were released for this purpose. So, 43.54% of the total funds released between 1993 to 2018, were released between 2014-18. A total of 5,315 Court Halls and 6,827 residential units were constructed between 2014-19.
- Fast Track Courts: To expedite trial of cases against women, SC/STs, children and senior citizens Fast Track Courts were created. In 2015 only 281 Fast Track Courts were functional which increased to 727 in December, 2018. 12 Special Courts in 11 states were set up to expedite criminal cases against Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly.
- Digital Courts: Total number of digital district and subordinate courts increased from 13,627 to 16,089 registering an increase of 2,417 between 2014-18.
- eCourts Services:eCourts mobile application was launched which enabled digital availability of services such as case filing confirmation, case scrutiny, case registration, confirmation, case allocation, next date of hearing, cause list, case status, orders and judgements etc. Digital filing of cases was inaugurated in May, 2017 for cases filed in High Courts and District Courts. There were only 64 court orders available on eCourts, which increased to 6.23 Crore in 2018.
- Video Conferencing Facilities in Courts: Until 2014, there was no video conferencing facility in courts. By 2018, 488 court complexes were enabled with video conferencing facility with corresponding 342 prisons.
- National Judicial Data Grid: National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) was started in September 2015. It provides real time statistical information of court cases to all stakeholders in easy to read graphs and diagrams. By December, 2018 there were 9.60 Crore pending and 6.23 Crore disposed off cases available on NJDG.
- Tele Law Service: To make legal advice available to poor people in remote areas of India, Tele Law Service was launched. Initially 1800 Gram Panchayats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and 8 states of the North East India were covered. Any citizen could seek legal advice through video conferencing at the Common Service Centers in his village, without the need for visiting a court complex or lawyer’s office. By April, 2018 a total of 15,821 marginalized people were provided legal advice through this.
- Pro Bono Legal Services: To encourage pro-bono legal assistance by lawyers to poor people, a digital platform was provided where lawyers and litigants are registered to help each other.
- NyayMitra: To facilitate faster clearance of cases pending for disposal for more than 10 years, NyayMitras were appointed to assist the various stakeholders in disposing off the cases.
- Rationalization of Tribunals: Structure of Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and other authorities was rationalized and 36 identified Tribunals were merged to 18 Tribunals.
- Online Notary Application System: Online system for receipt of applications from Advocates for appointment as notaries were put in place.
- Litigant Legal Information Management & Briefing System (LIMBS): To expedite court cases within the government departments LIMBS was introduced as a digital platform to keep track of the court cases. More than 2.60 Lakh court cases were brought on this platform.
- Commercial Courts: To boost ease of doing business in India, Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015 was enacted. Commercial Courts were set up in Delhi and Mumbai.
Minister for Communications and IT (26 May, 2014 – 06 July, 2016)
Ravi Shankar Prasad served as the Communication Minister for little over two years in the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though this was a short stint, given the diversity, spread and challenges India’s communication sector entails. However, sincere efforts and focused work done by him as a Minister yielded some really encouraging results that are briefly mentioned as under:
- Most Successful Auction of Telecom Spectrum: Allocation of telecom spectrum had witnessed corruption and controversies during UPA government headed by Dr. Man Mohan Singh leading to legal battles. Ensuring a fair and transparent auction of telecom spectrum after taking over as Telecom Minister was indeed an uphill task for the NDA government led by PM Narendra Modi. Spectrum auction of 2015 was the most successful spectrum auction in India that fetched Rs. 1.10 Crore of revenues to the Government of India and all this happened without any controversy.
- Policies That Fueled Telecom Sector Growth: Many policies that were pending for years were cleared between 2014-2016, which led to fast growth of India’s telecom sector between this period. Spectrum Trading, Spectrum Sharing, Spectrum Liberalization, Defence Band Identification, Virtual Network Operator, Full Mobile Number Portability and Policy for Sharing of Active and Passive Telecom Infrastructure were some major policy initiatives. These policies resulted in massive growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecom sector. Total FDI in telecom sector of India between April, 2012 to March, 2014 was $ 1.6 Billion, which increased to $ 4.09 Billion between April, 2014 to February, 2016.
- Massive Growth in Telecom Connections: During the two years of 2014-2016, India witnessed massive addition of telecom connections. Between April, 2012 to February, 2014, India’s telecom sector was witnessing a very negative growth as it lost nearly 1.83 Crore telecom connections. Due to policy initiatives and transparency measures between April 2014- February 2016, net growth in telecom connections was 12 Crore. Total mobile phone connections that stood at 90.45 Crore in March, 2014 increased to 102.71 Crore in February, 2016. India’s Mobile phone tele density increased from 72.94% to 80.95% between March, 2014 and February, 2016.
- Full Mobile Number Portability Introduced: For the first time in India, full mobile number portability was introduced. Before this the mobile number portability permitted the customer to change their service provider only within their telecom circle. It was not possible to retain the same mobile number if the user shifted from one telecom circle to another circle. Full mobile number portability, for the first time, allowed Indian mobile phone users to retain the same mobile even when they shifted to any part of the country.
- Transforming BSNL: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India’s largest public sector telecom service provider suffered heavy losses during the ten years of UPA rule (2004-2014). When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee left office in 2004, BSNL recorded profits worth Rs. 10,000 Crore. When UPA government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh left office in 2014, BSNL was suffering loss of Rs. 8,000 Crore. It was indeed an uphill task to revive this sick public sector undertaking when the private sector telecom players had acquired significant market share and enjoyed huge customer base. However, an honest effort to revive BSNL was made between 2014-2016, which had started yielding encouraging results. Between 2014-15, BSNL registered operating profits of Rs. 672 Crore and this increased to around Rs. 2,000 Crore (unaudited figures) in the year 2015-16. Overall growth of BSNL in February, 2016 reached 1.67%, which was double the industry growth rate of 0.85%. BSNL also started acquiring customers at a much faster rate between 2014-16. In March 2015 BSNL was adding 8 Lakh customers per month, which increased to 23 Lakh customers per month in March, 2016.
- BharatNet: Ambitious project to connect all the 250,000 village clusters or Gram Panchayats by high speed optical fiber network was initiated by UPA government in 2011. However, in the first three years i.e. 2011-2014 only 358 Kilometers of optical fiber was laid. Narendra Modi government made certain technological enhancements in this project and expedited implementation of this project as Bharat Net. Between July, 2014 to May, 2016 1,15,783 Kilometers of optical fiber was laid and nearly 50,732 Gram Panchayats were connected.
- Firm Stand on Net Neutrality: Net Neutrality became an issue of grave importance across the world. The government of PM Narendra Modi took a firm stand on this way before developed countries could settle this debate. Telecom Ministry headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad decided that access to free and fair internet is non-negotiable and therefore any compromise with neutrality of Internet as a medium of communication cannot be compromised. This decision of government of India settled the debate on net neutrality in India.
- Speed Post Services of India Post Gained Momentum: Express mail delivery system of India Post called the Speed Post gained significant momentum during 2014-16. Speed Post revenues jumped from Rs. 1372 Crore in 2013-14 to Rs. 1600 Crore in 2015-16. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report had adjudged Speed Post as the best express mail delivery service across India.
- Introduction of eCommerce in India Post: Declining revenues of India from mails due to advent of emails and instant messengers was a cause of concern. In order to improve the health of India Post, the Narendra Modi government decided to develop India Post as a vibrant logistics service provider to India rapidly growing eCommerce sector. This yielded encouraging results. Total amount collected from Cash on Delivery of eCommerce Parcel of India post was only Rs. 100 Crore in 2013-14, which increased to Rs. 500 Crore in 2014-15 and reached Rs. 1300 Crore in 2015-16.
- Banking Service At Post Offices: India Post was offering banking service in terms of small savings, however it’s banking services were not at par with other commercial banks. With an intention of leveraging the vast network of India Post across India for financial inclusion, the Narendra Modi government granted payment bank license to India Post. Its banking operations were brought on digital core banking platform allowing account holders to operate their accounts from any branch in the country. There were only 230 core banking branches of India Post in May, 2014 which increased to 22,137 branches in May, 2016. There were only 4 India Post ATMs in May 2014, which increased to 942 ATMs in May, 2016.
Minister of State for Coal and Mines
Prasad’s first ministerial assignment was in the capacity of Minister of State for Coal and Mines between 2001 and 2003 under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Prime-ministership. This was on the backdrop of huge losses suffered by Coal India (CIL). As a first time Minister, its revival was a major challenge before him. In a year’s time, it began to earn profits.
Minister of State for Law and Justice
His performance as a Minister for Ministry of Coal and Ministry of Mines (India) and a spectacular record as an eminent lawyer earned him higher responsibilities. Prime Minister Vajpayee entrusted him with the additional responsibility of handling the important ministry of Law and Justice as a Minister of State. In this capacity Ravi Shankar Prasad played an active role in speeding up the establishment of Fast Track courts in India for ensuring speedy justice to people. He also steered the amendments in the Representation of People Act, which was prepared in a short duration of 15 days and was promulgated by way of an Ordinance on 24 August 2002. These amendments made it mandatory for a candidate contesting elections to provide information as to whether he was booked for any offence punishable with imprisonment for two years or more and whether he was convicted or imprisoned for more than a year. This further amended the Act and made it mandatory for a person elected to the Parliament or State Legislature to disclose his assets and liabilities within ninety days of taking oath. These reforms were crucial to arrest the influence of crime and money in Indian politics.
Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting (Independent Charge)
Performance of Ravi Shankar Prasad as a Minister of State earned him the confidence of the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was given an independent charge of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. In this capacity Ravi Shankar Prasad pioneered the following changes:
Ushering India into Digital TV era: As the Union Minister for Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India), Ravi Shankar Prasad’s pioneering efforts laid the foundations of digital TV in India. His efforts to introduce the Conditional Access System of satellite TV telecast not only ended the conventional cable TV era but also offered better choices before the viewers. With the introduction of Conditional Access System (CAS), the viewers were offered choices to pay only for the channels they desired to watch. This ended the monopolistic and unhealthy trade practices of cable operators and made cable TV more affordable to the common people. This also ensured that viewers get rid to low quality cable telecast and get to watch television programs in high quality digital contents.
His efforts to rationalize the entire cable TV business witnessed huge resistance from the cable TV operator lobbies. However, he was committed to roll out the much needed reforms and decided to move ahead despite resistance. Thus India entered into an era of digital TV telecast at an economical and affordable cost. Gradually, this led to the introduction of the Direct to Home or DTH technology of television telecast. Today, due to healthy market competition and affordable DTH services, the pioneer efforts of Ravi Shankar Prasad has taken a shape of revolution. DTH has ensured that variety of national and international television channels can be accessed from any part of the country.
FM Radio Revolution: FM radio offered high quality radio services as compared to noise infested AM telecast. Efforts made by Ravi Shankar Prasad as the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister for liberalizing the FM radio services led to entry of multiple private players into this sector. It not only offered multiple choices to the customers but also opened business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Today, FM radio business and grown into a thriving business creating great job opportunities for young professionals. This has also led the country into an era of localized FM radio broadcasting, thereby promoting and popularizing folk music and protecting India’s diverse cultural heritage.
International Film Festival of India (IIFF) shifted to Goa: India International Film Festival is an annual event for showcasing and celebrating Indian cinema’s achievements and sharing it with the global trends in cinema. This event used to take place at New Delhi. However, as the Union Information & Broadcasting Minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad felt the need to re-branding this annual event and make it more popular among the international film fraternity. Goa, the popular tourist destination of India having a long and beautiful sea shore on the Arabian Sea, was felt to be the most suitable destination to host the Indian International Film Festival. He decided to take this festival to Goa. This not only changed the complexion of the entire Film Festival but also drew more and more international participation.
Corporatization of the Indian Film Industry: Indian Cinema which had recently got the Industry status was exploring options for institutional finances. The efforts made by Ravi Shankar Prasad led to the corporatization of Indian Cinema. Access to institutional finance, corporatization of production houses, insurance benefits to films and people associated with the film industry and easier access to modern technology gave great impetus to the growth of Indian cinema. This drastically cut down the influence of illegal source of film financing and malice associated with that.
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, he was given the charge of Ministry of Law and Justice (State). He prepared a bill to amend the Representation of People Act with in a fortnight in 2002. In 2003, he became the information and broadcasting minister. He is 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.
The infamous Fodder Scam came into lime light in Bihar. Filed Public Interest Litigation in Patna High Court and demanded a probe by the CBI.
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
Leading Global Leader Shaping Digital Future
Ravi Shankar Prasad is spearheading the Digital India program 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.
This literally saved Internet in India from getting robbed of its neutrality 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. He had exposed the unholy nexus between leading opposition political Party of India and unethical data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica that had stolen the Facebook data of Indian users for profiling voters and influencing them by sending misleading political information and fake news. 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 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 menace 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 fomenting 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 an 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.―TV Veopar Journal Bureau