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January 23, 2018
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Ms Nirmala Sitharaman is the new Indian Defence Minister

Published: August 2017
 

New Delhi. Ms Nirmala Sitharaman is the new Defence Minister of the India, and the first woman to hold this highly important portfolio full time.

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Before elevation to the Cabinet rank in the reshuffle on Sep 3, she was Minister of State for Commerce where she did deal with foreign governments and global defence companies but in the perspective of trade and commerce through joint ventures and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

The late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi also held the Defence portfolio, twice in fact, but only as additional charge.

Known for her oratory and pleasant demeanor, Ms Sitharaman will now be a member of the powerful Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by the Prime Minister. Its other members are Ministers of External Affairs, Home, and Finance.

Ms Sitharaman will take charge of her new office after a few days, as the current Defence Minister Arun Jaitley was leaving for Tokyo (Sep 3) for a pre-scheduled dialogue on security matters in preparation for the coming visit here of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this month. “ It is a very important security dialogue between the two countries ahead of the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit and therefore changes are not advisable. I will continue for the next couple of days to complete the dialogue.”

Ms Sitharaman told newsmen that she was humbled by her recognition by the party (ruling BJP) “which overwhelms me.”

Her appointment in the Defence Ministry did come as a surprise though.

Looking at it, as they say, India is literally fielding double woman power in tackling the security challenges from neighbours particularly.

Defence and Diplomacy go together, and both these portfolios are now in the hands of two very able women.

Her senior colleague, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, has already been engaged in replying to the Chinese verbal assaults in the recent past over Beijing’s attempts to intrude into Doklam. It would be Ms Sitharaman’s job now to speed up the nearly paralyzed defence modernization and acquisition process to secure India’s future.

Mr Subhash Ramrao Bhamre continues to be Minister of State for Defence.

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