Anbumani Ramadoss - India’s 24X7 newsmaker

May 9th, 2008 - 10:15 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Prashant K. Nanda
New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) Some call him a passionate activist, crusading against health hazards, while others allege he is publicity hungry and wastes time on trivial matters. But one thing is for certain - Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss is seldom out of news. From exhorting megastar Shah Rukh Khan and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to quit smoking and appealing to filmmakers to desist from showing drinking scenes, the 40-year-old politician from Tamil Nadu has been hogging headlines.

The spotlight continues to shine on the minister, with the Supreme Court Thursday reinstating P. Venugopal as director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and declaring as unconstitutional the AIIMS amendment act, under which Ramadoss had him removed.

The Rajya Sabha MP from the PMK who has had a running battle with Venugopal, however, remains steadfast in his belief that he has done no wrong and refuses to quit despite the stinging judgement.

His profile posted in the ministry of health and family welfare website declares him as a brilliant young leader who has risen to the top by sheer devotion and professionalism.

“He is the youngest minister in the cabinet of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Inducted into the cabinet at the age of 37, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, the health minister of India, is changing the health scenario of the country by sheer enthusiasm, charisma and professionalism,” declares his website proudly.

Swami Agnivesh, who has been waging a battle almost single-handedly against child labour went one step ahead to brand Ramadoss as a green politician.

“The health minister is a crusader against myriad heath concerns of our country. His environmental work in Tamil Nadu, campaigns against alcohol, tobacco and fearlessness towards criticism have increased his stature,” Swami Agnivesh recently told IANS.

“I think Ramadoss is a green politician and his party the only green political party of India.”

To reinforce that image, an elated Ramadoss has already instructed every office-bearer of his party to plant at least 100 trees.

A doctor by profession, Ramadoss, has also done a short-term course on microeconomics from the prestigious London School of Economics.

Recognising his crusade to curb tobacco consumption in India, the World Health Organisation (WHO) conferred on him the ‘WHO Director General’s Special Award for Tobacco Control’ in July 2007.

However, his detractors believe that the minister is rather busy in misleading the country on small issues.

Reacting to the minister’s comments on curbing alcohol scenes in movies, film censor board chief Sharmila Tagore last month snapped back angrily: “First it was about smoking, then he spoke about chips and now alcohol. I think what is primarily very important now is that he should focus on real issues like fake medicines.”

Superstar Amitabh Bachchan was not far behind, asking for “mercy on professional actors”.

“I applaud your concern, sir…. But, honoured sir, could we perhaps dare to inquire whether you, being in governance, have considered first to ban this dreaded habit from all government servants in the country?” Bachchan wrote in his blog.

But Ramadoss remains unfazed and attributes the controversies surrounding him to the ‘biased media’ in the capital.

“I have no personal agenda. I don’t want to criticise anyone but as health minister of the country I am responsible for improving the healthcare of millions of Indians,” Ramadoss told IANS.

“I will continue my campaign against drugs, junk food, tobacco and alcohol. They are killing people,” he added.

With the Supreme Court reinstating Venugopal as AIIMS director doctors at the premier institute and the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party Party are demanding his resignation. His next move will be keenly watched.

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