10 things to know about Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first full-time woman FM

As the first full-time woman Finance Minister, Sitharaman is all set to present Budget 2019 in the Parliament on Friday.
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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

In her last term in the Narendra Modi led-NDA government, Nirmala Sitharaman made history by becoming India’s first full-time woman Defence Minister.

Now, as part of Modi 2.0, she has notched up another first by becoming India’s first woman full-time Finance Minister.

All eyes are now on this formidable and feisty woman, as she is all set to present Budget 2019 in the Parliament on Friday. With a dwindling economy and a rising unemployment rate, 60-year-old Sitharaman has her job cut out, and we are hoping that she comes out with flying colours and meets the expectations of the country.

On the eve of the Union Budget, we present a few interesting facts about Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and what makes her tick.

  1. Sitharaman will present the 89th Union Budget on Friday in the Parliament. She is the country’s first full-time Finance Minister, who was also the Defence Minister in her last term, being only the second woman after Indira Gandhi to hold the posts. Sitharaman is also the senior-most woman in the Modi Cabinet at present.
  2. She was born on August 18, 1959, to a middle-class family in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu. Her father worked in the Railways, and she spent her childhood in different parts of Tamil Nadu.
  3. She pursued her undergraduate degree at Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy College, Tiruchirapalli, and completed her MPhil in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
  4. After marrying Parakala Prabhakar in 1986, the couple moved to London, where Sitharaman worked at PWC, and also held a brief stint at BBC World. They returned to India in 1991.
  5. She joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2004, though her husband’s family was completely pro-Congress. Prior to her joining the party, she was a member of the National Women Commission.
  6. As the BJP spokesperson, Nirmala Sitharaman came to be known as the voice and face of the party, and held her own against political stalwarts in face-offs and TV debates.
  7. She is also a member of the Rajya Sabha. In Modi Government’s first term, Sitharaman served as the Minister of State (independent charge) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry before she was appointed as the Defence Minister.
  8. Her stint as Defence Minister was a tumultuous one, with many questions raised against the government on the Rafale deal. However, she was instrumental in establishing industrial defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and many far-reaching policies.
  9. Soon after she was appointed Defence Minister, an old video of her making avakaya pickle (Andhra-style mango pickle) surfaced on the internet. The heart-warming video proved that like the rest of us, the Minister is straddling different worlds.
  10. She is also one of the founding members of the Pranava School in Hyderabad, set up by her husband, who served as a communications advisor to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)