The formation of the new cabinet has come in as a surprise for most. One of the most notable changes done to the BJP led Cabinet has been in the finance department. Nirmala Sitharaman was appointed the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs on the 31st of May 2019.
An unexpected choice for sure, but will it be the right one?
Nirmala Sitharaman was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Her father was a railway employee and hence her family kept moving from place to place. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College and completed her Masters in economics and M.Phil. from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
While her in laws have been politically oriented towards the Congress, she has always been a BJP supporter. She joined BJP in 2008 as a spokesperson. Eventually climbing up the ladder to become a MoS (Minister of State) i.e., a junior minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs in the 2014 Modi government. She Became an elected member of the Rajya Sabha in June 2014 and contested again in 2016 representing BJP.
In 2017 she made headlines by being appointed as the Minister of Defense, the only second woman after the late PM Indira Gandhi. The almost 4-decade gap between the appointment of the two only highlights the tremendous gender crisis India still faces. Defeating odds and debunking speculations, Sitharaman claimed her position with grace, knowledge, patience and controversy free.
With her appointment as the Minister of Finance she has made headlines again, being the second woman to the late PM Indira Gandhi again, to hold such an esteemed position. While the late PM kept the defense and finance portfolios with her while being appointed, Nirmala Sitharaman will be allocated to this post full-time.
With the recent plummet of the GDP from 6.6% to 5.8%, unemployment at 6.1%, an all-time high in the last 45 years and the rural crisis Sitharaman surely has a lot on her plate. Rationalizing taxes, cutting off non performing sectors, labor and land reforms, reforms to overcome the plummet in consumer rates, etc. – these are just the tip of the ice berg of problems the government has to tackle. With the budget for the fiscal year 2020 to be submitted within a month’s time, Sitharaman and her team of ministers have a lot to look into.
Where in the first years of the 2014 UPA government, growth had been steady, towards the end of their 4-year term, the government seemed to have lost the reins to the country economically. The growth in the last year, at the best has been sluggish in our country. With China beating us in the race to being the fastest growing economy, a lot of improvements have to be made in the allocation of budgets to different sectors.
The country has their eyes glued on how Sitharaman and her team will fare in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully they will bring in enough change to satiate the country until better can be done. We hope that the economist in Nirmala Sitharaman does justice to the people and tackles the big problems hands on. Whether the government manages to undo the injustice done to the economy in the last year or so, the country awaits for the answer.