Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Nirmala Sitharaman is the only woman in PM Modi’s cabinet for the record third time

Nirmala Sitharaman is the only woman in PM Modi's cabinetNirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman, a two-time Union minister, has made history by being included in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet for his third consecutive term, marking a significant milestone for women ministers. In PM Modi’s previous tenure, Ms. Sitharaman managed the finance portfolio and is recognized for advancing second-generation economic reforms.

At the age of 64, she joined PM Modi’s cabinet in 2014 as the Minister of Industry and Commerce and later assumed the Defence portfolio in 2017.

Following then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s illness after the 2019 general elections, Ms. Sitharaman became the first woman in India to be entrusted with the finance portfolio for an entire term. Previously, Indira Gandhi briefly held the finance portfolio as an additional responsibility during her tenure as Prime Minister of India.

Ms. Sitharaman’s initial significant reform as the finance minister was reducing the base corporate tax rate to 22 percent, down from 30 percent, aimed at supporting the economy impacted by demonetization as well as the introduction of the goods and services tax.

The subsequent year saw the country grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, during which various policy measures were introduced to assist the underprivileged. The government unveiled a special economic package worth ₹20 lakh crore, roughly equivalent to 10 percent of India’s GDP.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Despite the economy contracting by nearly 24 percent in the first quarter of FY21, the minister successfully guided it to become the fastest-growing economy in the world.

Despite implementing fiscal expansion measures, she remained committed to the path of fiscal consolidation and managed to reduce the fiscal deficit to 5.6 percent of GDP from the earlier projected 5.8 percent in FY24.

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She also achieved a milestone by presenting the sixth consecutive Budget — comprising five annual Budgets and one interim Budget — a feat matched only by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

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