13 Lesser-Known Facts About Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Second Woman Defense Minister

Updated on 5 Sep, 2017 at 6:03 pm


On Sunday, Nirmala Sitharaman became India’s second woman defense minister and the first woman to hold the office full-time. It is for the first time ever that both the Defense Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry are under command of women.


Nirmala Sitharaman taking oath as the Defense Minister. PTI

1. Nirmala Sitharaman is officially the 33rd Defense Minister of India and the 26th person to hold the office.


2. Sitharaman is from Karnataka but was born and brought up in Tamil Nadu.

She was born on August 18, 1959 in Madurai and completed her education up to graduation level from Seethalakshmi Ramaswamy College in Tiruchirapalli.


3. She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from JNU and is the first alumna from the University to become India’s Defense Minister.


4. Before starting her political career, Sitharaman worked as Senior Manager (Research and Analysis) with Price Waterhouse in London.

She also had a stint with the BBC World Service.

5. She met her husband, Dr Parakala Prabhakar, at JNU. They married in 1986 and have a daughter.


6. Both Sitharaman’s mother-in-law and father-in-law were Congress party members.

Her mother-in-law was a Congress MLA in Andhra Pradesh. Her father-in-law, Parakala Seshavatharam, was a Minister in the Andhra Pradesh Congress government in the 1970s.

7. She joined the BJP in 2006, became one of the six spokespersons, and was inducted in the Modi government as soon as it came to power on May 26, 2014 as the Commerce Minister.


Nirmala Sitharaman addressing a conference as Commerce Minister.Twitter

8. She is a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, an office she holds since July 1, 2016.

This is her second time as a Rajya Sabha MP. Previously, Sitharaman was an MP from Andhra Pradesh.

9. Sitharaman is fluent in English but is not very proficient in Hindi.

10. She gets up at 7 in the morning and reads 9 newspapers for approximately 3 hours.


Nirmala Sitharaman


11. She was stuck for three days in a Chennai hospital during her pregnancy in 1991 because of tensions due to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.



12. In February 2014, Sitharaman and Sushma Swaraj had a war of words on Twitter over the Seemandhra crisis.

13. Sitharaman was a member of the National Commission for Women from 2003-2005 and is the founder member of Pranava School in Hyderabad.


Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (Independent Charge), Nirmala Sitharaman lighting the lamp to inaugurate ‘The Paper Conclave 2017’, organised by the Madras Paper Merchants Association-FTPA, in Chennai on August 12, 2017. PIB


We hope our new Defense Minister will help in transforming the Indian military into a more agile, lethal and powerful force.