A TWO-FRONT threat from Pakistan and China, modernisation of armed forces amid budgetary constraints and the government’s push for Make in India in defence.
Just seven months since she became the first woman to independently hold charge of the Defence Ministry, Nirmala Sitharaman has her hands full. And with barely a year left for the next general elections, she doesn’t have much time.
On Saturday, Sitharaman will be the guest at the Express Adda in Mumbai.
The Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organised by The Indian Express Group and features those at the centre of change.
Born in Madurai into a middle-class family, Sitharaman completed her Masters in Economics from JNU. Her mother-in-law was a Congress MLA and her father-in-law a minister in the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh in the 1970s. A founding member of Pranava, a reputable school in Hyderabad, she was nominated as a member of the National Commission for Women during the NDA government from 1998 to 2004.
Sitharaman joined the BJP in 2008, became the party’s national spokesperson in 2010. She was inducted as a Union Minister with independent charge for Corporate Affairs in the NDA government in May 2014, and Minister of State for Finance, before she was elevated to the post of Defence Minister last September.
Since her appointment, Sitharaman has travelled the length and breadth of the country, by air, on land and on water to familiarise herself with the needs of the armed forces. Her focus so far has mainly been on ensuring the welfare and rights of soldiers, veterans and families.
At the Express Adda, Sitharaman will be in conversation with The Indian Express’s National Opinion Editor Vandita Mishra. Guests at the event in the past include the Dalai Lama, economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, filmmaker Karan Johar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, writer Amitav Ghosh, cricketer Virat Kohli, and oncologist and author Siddhartha Mukherjee.