New Delhi: 26-year-old Soumya Jain has no experience in Public Health – she trained as an architect. Yet, she is now in charge of Delhi’s epochal project – the management of nearly 100 mohalla or neighbourhood clinics, which provide free treatment to walk-ins.
The mohalla clinics – wildly popular and written up internationally – were announced last year by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has ambitiously pledged 1,000 of them will be operational by the end of March.
But the appointment of Ms Jain is being hauled up by critics as a distinctly unhealthy practice – her father, Satyendra Jain, is the Health Minister.
“This exposes the real face of Kejriwal, and this is not the first time Aam Aadmi Party or AAP volunteers and workers have been given cozy positions in the government,” said Harish Khurana of the BJP.
“It’s illegal and absolute double speak from the party which kept targeting others for family links,” seconded Sandeep Dikshit of the Congress.
The BJP has three members in the Delhi Assembly. The Congress has none. That makes for flimsy opposition, but a lofty job for a minister’s offspring, especially one without concomitant qualifications, does come across as an audacious deviation from the meritocracy it often belligerently preaches.
The Health Minister says his daughter could have opted for more lucrative prospects. “She has secured admission in IIM Indore, but she is leaving all that to serve the people of Delhi. Soumya is involved with the Delhi Health mission as a volunteer. She has not been provided with any vehicle, house or money by the government,” he clarified.
Ms Jain will report to the Health Secretary who in turn reports to her father. Not the degrees of separation from dynastic and VIP culture that Mr Kejriwal and his ministers have pronounced as the founding principle of their young party.