In a Cabinet rejig termed as Cabinet 3.0, the Narendra Modi government has selected its second woman Defence Minister after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Nirmala Sitharaman. With her appointment she will become India’s first full-time woman Defence Minister.
As an initial example of breaking the glass ceiling, India’s security will now be in the reins of two women in the Cabinet Committee on Security. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been at the helm since the first Cabinet appointment in 2014 and Sitharaman who has been appointed will decide on India's defence expenditure and matters of National Security as members of India’s Cabinet Committee on Security.
What makes Sitharaman one of Modi’s top ministers are her 3 top qualities.
Sitharaman's appointment comes at a time when India has been without a full-time Defence Minister for over five months.
In the present government’s Cabinet, Sitharaman has served as Minister of State with independent charge of Commerce and Industry for about three years. Her promotion to a Cabinet rank is testimony of her performance.
Her trade negotiations in China for a recent BRICS meeting at a time when India-China border row for Doklam was curbing officials from directly connecting with China has been seen as her commitment to perform, and skill to do so diplomatically.
Before becoming the Defence Minister, Sitharaman has served the Bharatiya Janata Party from the beginning of her political career.
Along with being a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha representing Karnataka, she has a Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs under the Ministry of Finance and the Minister for Commerce and Industry with independent charge.
Prior to that, she acted as a national spokesperson for the BJP. As a BJP spokesperson in the past, she had launched robust combat against Congress-led UPA government.
Sitharaman's academic background is robust with an MA from JNU, followed by an MPhil. She has exposure in the professional world with work at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a senior manager.
She is one of the founding directors of Pranava School in Hyderabad. She was formerly a member of the National Commission for Women.
She joined the BJP in 2006 and it was during Nitin Gadkari's tenure as BJP president that Sitharaman was enlisted as one of the six party spokespersons in March 2010.
When BJP came to power in 2014, she was first allotted a Rajya Sabha seat from Andhra Pradesh. Currently, she is elected to the Upper House from Karnataka.