Nirmala Sitharaman: India’s first woman Defence Minister

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Nirmala Sitharaman (58) became first full time woman Defence Minister of India after she was promoted to the Union Cabinet. She takes charge of the crucial ministry from Union Finacne Minister Arun Jaitley. Ms Sitharaman is second woman to become Defence Minister of India. First was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was holding additional portfolio as Defence Minister from 1980-82.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman was born 18 August 1959 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Currently, she is Rajya Sabha MP representing Karnataka. She hails from Andhra Pradesh. She had obtained BA degree from Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy College, Tiruchirappalli and MA degree in economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University followed by Ph.D in Indo-European textile trade within GATT framework and MPhil. She has served at Pricewaterhouse Coopers as a Senior Manager and later for the BBC World Service.

Before her elevation to Union Cabinet in NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she was Minister of State (MoS) for Finance and Corporate Affairs and Minister for Commerce and Industry with independent charge. Before that she was national spokesperson for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She was member of National Commission for Women (NCW) from 2003-05. She is founder member of Pranava School in Hyderabad.

The Minister of Defence is the head of the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India. They are often assisted by a Minister of State for Defence and less-commonly, the lower-ranked Deputy Minister of Defence. The defence minister additionally serves as President of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, and as Chancellor of the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology and of the National Defence University.

The first defence minister of independent India was Baldev Singh, who served in Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet during 1947–52. Nirmala Sitharaman,the current defence minister of India is the second woman since Indira Gandhi to hold this major post.