Nirmala Sitharaman scores another first as finance minister
31 May 2019
Nirmala Sitharaman, who was defence minister in the previous NDA government, has now been given charge of the finance ministry, making her the first woman to handle the important portfolio after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who held the portfolio briefly for a year between July 1969 and June 1970.
Sitharaman, 59, will become the senior most woman minister in Modi’s cabinet and the fourth in the order of seniority, despite being considered a a political lightweight.
Markets, however, looked skeptical and the stock market rally fizzles out pushing the Sensex down nearly 120 points.
Nirmala Sitharaman who entered active politics 13 years ago has risen to the position of India's second female finance minister.
Nirmala Sitharaman was born in Tamil Nadu's Tiruchirapalli on 18 August 1959. Her father was an Indian Railways employee while her mother was a homemaker.
After completing her graduation (BA economics) from Seethalakshmi Ramasamy College, Tiruchirappalli she obtailed a masters degree in economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
She joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2006.
She was inducted into BJP'S National Executive Council and was appointed national spokesperson in 2010.
In 2014, Sitharaman was inducted into PM Modi's cabinet as a junior minister.
Sitharaman was also India's second female defence minister, a post which was once held by Indira Gandhi.
Previously, she had served as the minister of state for finance and corporate affairs in the ministry of finance and minister of commerce and industry with independent charge.
Sitharaman had served at Pricewater Coopers and BBC World Service before entering politics. She is also one of the founding directors of Pranava School in Hyderabad.
Sitharaman assumes charge of the finance ministry at a time when The India economy, Asia’s third-largest, is stuttering for want of resources.
While BJP president Amit Shah, who way yesterday sworn in as a cabinet minister, was widely expected to get the finance portfolio, Modi opted for merit and continuity.
Modi, however, opted to keep Sitaraman, who has an economics background and was briefly the junior finance minister in Modi’s first term, as the new finance minister.
Sitharaman will face pressure from industry for the government to provide some stimulus to halt a worrying slowdown in India’s $2.7 trillion economy.
India probably lost its spot as the fastest growing major economy to China in the January-March quarter after falling demand dented consumer demand for manufacturing and services.
The government has lined a slew of ‘big-bang’ economic reforms in the first 100 days of Modi’s second term, with a focus on privatisation of state assets and relaxation of labour and land rules for businesses, reports citing finance ministry officials said.