Nirmala Sitharaman, the journey of a humble lady from BJP spokesperson to the Defence Minister of the country!

Probably even Nirmala Sitharaman never expected that she will be chosen to handle one of the most difficult and high profiled ministry yesterday. The entire media circle completely failed to make any guess about the portfolios PM Modi would assign. One of the most pleasantly surprising move was opting Nirmala Sitharaman as the defence minister of the country.

Nirmala Sitharaman was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. She obtained her B.A. degree from Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy College, in Tiruchirappalli. Being a very bright student she continued her studies and obtained MA and MPhil degree in economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi in 1980. She later worked in BBC world service and in Price water house Coopers as a Senior Manager.

Her career in BJP started in the year 2006, after her husband quit the Prajarajyam party floated by filmstar Chiranjeevi and joined BJP in Andhra Pradesh unit. Nirmala Sitharaman showed extreme dedication towards party work, which gained her name in the party in a short span. Nitin Gadkari who was then the President of the BJP, recognised her work and selected her as the spokesperson of the BJP in 2010. She proved to be very capable in handling debates and exposing Congress when the UPA was at helm of corruption.

Soon her ability was recognized by the high command and she was selected for higher post in the run up for 2014 elections. She became quite popular in Gujarat and become a trustable person in Narendra Modi’s team. After the BJP won the 2014 elections, she was entrusted with Ministry of Commerce & Industry as Minister of State (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs under the Ministry of Finance headed by Arun Jaitley. She showed exception ability and proved to be efficient which made her one of the best performing ministers in the Modi cabinet.

In May 2016, she was selected as the Member of Rajya Sabha from Karnataka after which she adopted Kolar district under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana and is determined to make the district open defecation free and solve the water crisis which is rampant in the district. Earlier, when she was the RS member from Andhra, she was very successful in bringing development in two coastal villages of West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh – Pedhamyanavanilanka (PM Lanka) and Toorputallu. She worked in areas of drinking water, sanitation and cleanliness, skill development, community infrastructure, education and financial security and transformed the village in a very short span.

Now, she has been selected as the defence minister of the country which is definitely a reward for her hard work and dedication. With the new responsibility, she will have to now take over the country’s defence sector after Manohar Parikkar and Arun Jailtely. Giving Nirmala Sitharaman defence sector while the border relation with China and Pakistan is grim is very significant. Handling the situation tactfully will be the biggest challenge for Mrs Sitharaman. She will have to give special focus on indigenous development of the war weapons and ammunition which PM Modi has always stressed on and remove the hurdles in the manufacturing sector. Big challenge is to handle the DRDO and its 50 labs, Ordnance Factory Board and its 41 factories, five defence PSUs and four shipyards which were engulfed in corruption during UPA.

Other prime focus is to provide better facility for the defence forces and paramilitary forces which face high causalities in the border areas and naxal prone areas. While Mr Parrikar was the Defence Minister, he cleared the OROP and increased the war compensation and pensions for soldiers and their families. Providing bullet proof jackets, helmets and advanced light weight ammunition was the prime focus which Mrs Sitharaman will have to take forward.

It will also be interesting to see how Mrs. Sitharaman will improve the women’s role in military sector which is a male dominated area.

While she has proven her capacity in trade and commerce sector, the country will have to watch how she will perform as the defence minister. PM Modi has definitely played a masterstroke with her selection and shown “work hard and you will be recognized and rewarded.”

We wish her all good luck and success in her new ministry!!

Aishwarya S