New Delhi: With a priest saying prayers, Nirmala Sitharaman took over today as India's first full-time woman Defence Minister, declaring that her priority would be modernization, military preparedness and "big play" in Make in India in production.
- Nirmala Sitharaman was chosen as Defence Minister in cabinet reshuffle
- She said her prioroty would be armed forces preparedness
- She also stressed on focussing on "Make in India"
"I will be the Defence Minister round-the-clock," said Ms Sitharaman, 55, as she took over the big ticket ministry from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who handled additional charge of the ministry for five months after Manohar Parrikar shifted to Goa as Chief Minister.
"We will ensure that the important characters of what make Make in India an important flagship programme for PM Modi is given full play for defence production. Make in India needs to take over so we benefit from what is manufactured in India and finds an international market," she said.
Chosen for the biggest promotion in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet reshuffle on the weekend, Ms Sitharaman is the second woman Defence Minister since Indira Gandhi, who kept the portfolio when she was prime minister. Her parents were present today for her big moment.
Ms Sitharaman could not take charge earlier as Mr Jaitley was on a visit to Japan for a bilateral dialogue of defence ministers. Ms Sitharaman is now a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security, which also includes the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Foreign Minister and Finance Minister.
"It will be a priority for me to ensure the smooth and speedy implementation of defence deals and projects," she told reporters, adding that it was important for the forces to get the best equipment and pay necessary to perform their duty.
Within half-an-hour of taking over, Ms Sitharaman was at a ceremony where she handed over a product made by a defence public sector unit - an armoured bus.