In what is the third reshuffle of Cabinet since 2014, the Modi government introduced 4 new faces in the Union Cabinet – Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman, Dharmendra Pradhan and Mukhtar Abbas who were till now serving as the Ministers of State.
Out of all the changes, the one change that is most talked about (and deservingly so) is the promotion of Nirmala Sitharaman as the Defense Minister of India.
“What is more important is that there are going to be two women in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Sushma-ji & me”
Nirmala Sitharaman, defence minister
Nirmala Sitharaman will be the first woman ever to be a Full Time Defence Minister of India and the second woman to be in-charge of the portfolio after Indira Gandhi.
Nirmala Sitharaman who was “overwhelmed and humbled” to be honored with this responsibility was recently in China for a BRICS meeting where she engaged in discussion on Doklam with her counterparts.
Why she’s selected?
Sitharaman, who was minister of state for commerce, is seen to have gained Party’s confidence in handling the ministry and has done well in multilateral negotiations. She also made her mark as party spokesperson when the BJP was in the opposition.
Also, Nirmala Sitharaman seems to have the resolve, sensitivity, maturity and grace to handle the Defense Ministery with required firmness as well as flexibility.
Apart from that, this decision also very strongly and loudly shouts out the message and government’s intention on the subject of Women Empowerment.
Narendra Modi has now and again highlighted his commitment towards Gender equality and Women Empowerment. The Cabinet reshuffle seemed to be an opportune moment for his government to send across another strong signal.
This reshuffle also affirms that women will not be stuck with ‘traditionally considered soft roles’ of Health, Social Welfare, Women and Child Development etc. Modi government has shattered this glass ceiling of ministerial Untouchability in portfolios like Defense, External affairs, HRD etc.
“I know his working style since the time he was in Gujarat … He always believed in giving women their due share. His belief is that women can also perform”
Nirmala Sitharaman, defence minister
What can we expect?
Jaitley said Sitharaman will be “an extremely competent successor” to him.
But will she? Let’s find out.
Nirmala Sitharaman was born in Madurai in Tamil Nad and graduated from Seethalakhsmi Ramaswami College in her hometown. She did her Masters in Economics in 1980, followed by a PhD in Indo-European textile trade within the GATT framework. Sitharaman then served at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as a senior manager and later worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
In 2006, Sitharaman joined the BJP; and was enlisted as one of the spokespersons of BJP in 2010 and articulated the party’s position very successfully.
She was appointed the Commerce Ministry in 2014 and as the minister of state; she led trade negotiations at the WTO and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), one of the world’s largest free trade deals that India is negotiating with ASEAN, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
She has been seen to have gaining control over her territory and dealing with trade negotiations with increasing certainty.
Our overall expectations from someone of her records and accomplishments (which are good, but not enough) may not be great, but it’s definitely very positive.
“With the support of the prime minister, so many things have happened in the Commerce Ministry like Start up India, Make in India etc. There is some misconception about ‘Make in India’, but it will be answered,” she said.
There has been a Tsunami of positive responses regarding the appointment of Nirmala Sitharaman as defence minister from various personalities like Barkha Dutt, Randeep Hooda, Sagarika Ghose, Nidhi Razdan etc.
While everyone is appreciating the Cabinet reshuffle to some extent, I will still have to point out that while the median age of a person in the country was 27 years, the average age of the new entrants was 60.44 years. This is a major plight of the larger political scenario in India, and I for one, feel very angry and worried about it.
Major Changes in the Cabinet
Nirmala Sitharaman – New Defence Minister.
Piyush Goyal – New Railway Minister & New Minister of Coal.
Dharmendra Pradhan – Minister of Petroleum and Gas and NEW Skill Development and entrepreneurship minister.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi – Promoted as Minister of Minority Affairs
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore – New Sports minister
Suresh Prabhu – New commerce and industry minister.
Nitin Gadkari – Minister of Transport, Minister of shipping and NEW minister of Water resources, river develpmenty & Ganga rejuvenation.
Here’s a Brownie Point for reading till the end- The BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman secured her MA from JNU in 1980. Huehue.