At the helm of oil and urban affairs ministries, Puri is Adda guest today

As a diplomat and a former Union minister for civil aviation, Puri — the guest at Express Adda on Friday — was one of the four Cabinet ministers tasked with coordinating the government’s massive efforts towards evacuating Indian students stranded in Ukraine after Russia attacked the former on February 24.

Hardeep Singh Puri (Photo: IE)

As Union minister for housing and urban affairs and petroleum & natural gas with Cabinet rank, diplomat-turned-politician Hardeep Singh Puri is at the helm of departments and ministries that play a critical role in influencing India’s growth story.

As a diplomat and a former Union minister for civil aviation, Puri — the guest at Express Adda on Friday — was one of the four Cabinet ministers tasked with coordinating the government’s massive efforts towards evacuating Indian students stranded in Ukraine after Russia attacked the former on February 24.

In his role as minister for petroleum & natural gas, Puri is entrusted with the task of increasing domestic production of crude oil and natural gas, alongside generating a gas-based economy that entails a renewed focus on improving the availability and utilisation of the cleaner fossil fuel.

With the recent cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel, and the government’s intervention in ensuring the addition of sanction-hit Russia’s deeply discounted crude oil into its overall supply basket, the minister has his work cut out in ensuring that the impact of spiralling global fuel prices is as transitory as possible, given the spiralling inflationary trend.

Retail or Consumer Price Index-based inflation has remained over the Reserve Bank of India’s upper band of 6% for five months in a row, prompting the central bank to hike policy rates and kill whatever little demand the economy has seen as India emerges out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As Union housing & urban affairs minister, Puri has an overarching mandate over the development of urban infrastructure, at a time when there is immense stress on the infrastructure of most Indian towns and cities, including water supply resources, sanitation, the housing-for-all target, and also the task of leveraging the use of data, technology and innovation in the planning and management of cities.

A 1974 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, Puri also served as the permanent representative of India to the United Nations between 2009 till 2013, ahead of joining the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014.

As part of his urban re-engineering mandate, Puri is in charge of the Narendra Modi government’s key flagship schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana — Urban (PMAY-U), Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, among others. His ministry also oversees the ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project aimed to reshape India’s seat of power at Raisina Hill.

At the Express Adda, Puri will be in conversation with Anant Goenka, executive director, The Indian Express Group, and P Vaidyanathan Iyer, executive editor, The Indian Express.

The Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organised by The Indian Express Group and features those at the centre of change. When the discussions moved online during the Covid-19 pandemic, Union minister for external affairs S Jaishankar, Union minister for road transport and highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for education Ramesh Pokhriyal, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, and former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian were among the guests at e-Adda.

Prominent guests at past editions of the Express Adda include Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, and cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara.

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