General V.K. Singh is the newly appointed minister of state for External Affairs and minister of state (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region. He retired as the chief of army staff in 2012 after a 40 year career in the Indian Army. He then joined Anna Hazare’s anticorruption movement before switching to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and winning a seat from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, in the recent general elections.
Why is he in the media?
A total of 23 cabinet ministers and 22 ministers of state were appointed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week – Singh being one of them. In the run-up to the May elections, he stirred controversy with public statements on bribery relating to defense procurement and taking the Indian government to the Supreme Court on the issue of his age.
What can we expect from him?
The newly elected Indian government will focus on infrastructure development as per its proclaimed mandate. It will seek to replicate the Gujarat model of development on a national scale. India’s northeast, which is isolated, underdeveloped, and often neglected by officials in Delhi, will receive special attention on the development front.
In order to execute infrastructure projects successfully, security in the region is also vital. Part of Singh’s role in overseeing development efforts in India’s northeast will be to improve the security situation in that part of the country so that projects can be carried out to completion without interruption. He previously served as the Eastern Army Commander prior to becoming the chief of army staff. This experience will prove useful in terms of understanding how to make the region more secure.