Nirmala Sitharaman gets on ‘work’ mode

New Delhi: This is what you call a professionalism at the core as not even waiting for the official taking over, India’s first full-time female Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already started carrying out her responsibilities. If official sources are to be believed, she was briefed by senior military and defence ministry officials at her Safdarjung Road residence.

“IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa met the new minister for around half-an-hour while other senior officials of the defence ministry were briefing throughout the day,” pointed out a official on the condition of anonymity.

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According to the official sources, Sitharaman met senior defence ministry officials, including the Secretary, soon after taking oath as a Cabinet minister on Sunday.

There is already been news in the media that she will assume office on Wednesday evening after the arrival of Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is on a defence-related visit to Japan.

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On the other hand, in South Block, officials hope that her experience in the Commerce ministry will expedite the modernisation of the armed forces and speed up weapon acquisition process.

Point to be noted here is that Sitharaman yesterday said Make in India in the defence sector would be one of her priorities, as this was one of the key initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On the need to work towards Make in India in the defence sector, Sitharaman said, “This will be one of my focus areas”.

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Under Modi’s Make in India in defence programme, India is looking to build strategic systems such as submarines, fighter planes and helicopters within the country itself, develop an indigenous defence industry, and cut reliance on foreign equipment for the armed forces.

Asked how she planned to tackle the issues faced by her ministry, Sitharaman said she would discuss these issues in detail after assuming charge but would take decisions in consultation with all the stakeholders under the guidance of the PM.