By Pradeep Baisakh
Both his father and mother were academicians and he belongs to a well-educated but lower middle class family. His mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and by the time she breathed her last in 1997, the family had already sold their assets for her treatment. The family’s financial condition was in shambles. He had to discontinue his studies and joined a job to sustain the family. Professor Rajendra Pratap Gupta from Banaras, who eventually became the Advisor to the Health Minister J P Nadda in 2016, realised that the country needs a robust health system so that people do not go through the pain his family had gone through!
In early 2000s, Rajendra’s out of box thinking and speed of execution caught the attention of Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, founder General Secretary of BJP & the former cabinet minister in Vajpayee government, and since then he has been his close associate. He helped him to draft the BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. He was contributed to writing the BJP manifesto in 2009 also. He also was a member to write the BJP’s Vision document 2030 under the leadership of Nitin Gadkari
After the Ayushman Bharat scheme was launched by the Prime Minister in 2018 covering 55 crore population with a assurance of 5 lakh rupees each, Rajendra is a happy man, for the scheme was proposed – among other things – in the National Health Policy, 2017 where he played a key role. “I hope that others would not become BPL due to health reasons after this mega health insurance scheme”, opines Prof Gupta.
Professor Gupta was also the member of Khadi board (KVIC), where he brought radical reforms to root out corruption and inefficiencies ( for which he faced many brick-bats), and launched the first sales incentive scheme to boost the sale. As a member of the National Education Policy committee, he visited remote villages and met students, teachers and parents from government aided schools to missionary schools and also interacted with the IIM students etc.
What characterizes his association with the government in various positions is his unflinching commitment to the government and the nation in lieu of literally nothing! He served all the important positions in honourary capacity. By implication he did not draw any salary for being the advisor to the Minister or and mostly spent money from his savings working for various government committees.
He never used government facilities for personal use and travelled economy class for his work. On one occasion, he refused the government of Uttar Pradesh for travel if they did not withdraw business class ticket! He refused the services of an additional director rank protocol officer allocated to him. He maintained the simplicity of traveling by Metro after office hours, and what more, he himself paid for butter milk, cold drink and biscuits for his visitors in his office.
He has drawn the motivation form the working style of Prime Minister Modi. Quite often his day would start at 8.00 am and could well continue past 10 pm!
“ I helped as many people as I could with no anticipation of any return by using my good office and relationship, be it for anyone’s medical case or an admission to a school so on. I stay in Mumbai and travel to Delhi in every week or alternate week to my office in Nirman Bhavan, and I never charged any airfare from the government. I also paid for my accommodation in Delhi.”
A senior official at from the Health ministry, said in condition of anonymity, “ In my 28 years of work, I have not met with anyone who worked dedicatedly for the government without seeking any remuneration!”
Gupta is also the author of two books, 1. Healthcare reforms in India and, 2. Your vote is not enough.