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Minister in Government of India between 2001 to 2004

Minister of State for Coal and Mines (01 September, 2001 to 29 January, 2003)

His first ministerial assignment was in the capacity of Minister of State for Coal and Mines. Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee entrusted gave him this responsibility with high hopes and expectations for performance and delivery of results. Coal India Limited- a Public Sector Undertaking of the Government of India, entrusted with the responsibility of mining India’s vast coal reserves was suffering huge losses. As a first time Minister, revival of Coal India Limited was a big challenge before Ravi Shankar Prasad. However, with his hard work and dedication he lived up to the expectations of Prime Minister Shri Vajpayee. Fortunes of Coal India Limited changed under his dynamic leadership and it became a profitable enterprise in one year time.

Minister of State for Law and Justice (01 July, 2002 to 29 January, 2003)

His performance as a Minister for Coal and Mines 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 24th 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) (29 January, 2003 to 13 May, 2004)

Performance of Ravi Shankar Prasad as a Minister of State earned him the confidence of the Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari 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 Information and Broadcasting, 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.
  • India International Film Festival (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 rebranding 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 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.