Rise and rise of Nirmala Sitharaman

Rise and rise of Nirmala Sitharaman

She was India's second woman Defence Minister and now she will be India's first woman Finance Minister.

A Master in Economics and M. Phil in International Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Nirmala had drawn attention as a firebrand BJP spokesperson with her aggressive defence of the then Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, and his confidant Amit Shah when they were targeted by their political opponents.

Breaching a largely male bastion, India's new Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday became the first woman in 48 years since then prime minister Indira Gandhi to hold charge of the key ministry.

Economists said growth could slow further in the current quarter, the first of the fiscal year, citing weakening global growth as a factor leading to this decline.

Regarded as the architect of Modi's landslide victory in the recently concluded general election, Shah replaces senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh, who will now be defense minister.

Unlike Shah and Jaitley, Sitharaman, 59, is seen as a political lightweight.

Kangana Ranaut who has time and again extended her support to PM Modi wished him well saying, "My warm wishes are with Prime Minister Modi so that he can accomplish his dream of making our country a five trillion economy".

"It is a big surprise and very unexpected news", said Yogesh Nagaonkar, founder and chief executive of Rowan Capital Advisors in Mumbai.

Modi is expected to begin his second term by prioritising growth in an economy that isn't creating enough new jobs for the millions of young Indians entering the labour market each month.

Nagaonkar said the ministry should have gone to Piyush Goyal, a chartered accountant who had stepped into the role twice in the previous government when Jaitley was out sick. She has also served as the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs and later the Minister for Commerce and Industry with Independent Charge.

Sitharaman joins the finance ministry at a time when the economy is facing challenges of slowing growth, dipping exports and mounting non-performing loans. She has also stepped aside due to poor health.

Under the new model, select Indian private firms will be roped in to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign defence majors.

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