New Delhi: Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman is a two-time member of Rajya Sabha since 2016 and only the second woman to serve as the Minister of Defence since Indira Gandhi, who was also the then Prime Minister.
From being a saleswoman in a home décor store in London’s Regent Street to becoming India’s Minister of Defence, Sitharaman’s journey includes many stops. Before formally joining the BJP in 2008, she worked as an assistant to an economist in the Agricultural Engineers Association in the United Kingdom, a senior manager in the R&D department of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and briefly even worked at the BBC World Service.
Sitharaman was inducted as junior minister (Minister of State, Commerce and Industry, with independent charge) in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 cabinet before being elected as member of Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh in June. In 2016, she successfully fought for a Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka and was one of the 12 candidates nominated by the BJP to contest the elections.
Sitharaman was given charge of the Ministry of Defence in September 2017 and has been in office since. Prior to the cabinet reshuffle, she had also handled the ministries of finance and corporate affairs.
Sitharaman also served as the BJP’s national spokesperson from 2010 to 2014. Under the government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, she served as a member of the National Commission for Women (NCW) from 2003 till 2005.
A staunch supporter of PM Modi and his policies in defence and security, Sitharaman has been an active face in national media over the past year, defending the government’s stance on the Rafale deal in Parliament and standing up to sexist remarks from Opposition leaders. A graduate in economics, Sitharaman received her master’s degree from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, which is where she also met her husband