When the complete list of the new Narendra Modi cabinet was released on Sunday, two names took precedence over all the others, Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani. Nirmala Sitharaman was named the Defence Minister taking over the charge from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Smriti Irani’s role as Minister of Information and Broadcasting was cemented.
Nirmala Sitharaman is now the first Indian woman to serve as a full time Defence Minister. She is now at the helm of defence affairs in the country. Nirmala Sitharaman who was previously the Minister of State for Commerce, proved her mettle as her direct approach was the change that proved vital in the industry. She represented the country at the highest levels, the latest being at the BRICS summit.
Nirmala Sitharaman has shown every indicator that she will deal with national security seriously and with an iron fist, if necessary. Post Sandeep Dikshit insulting the Indian Army Chief, she demanded that the “Congress leadership, especially Sonia Gandhi, come out and disown the leaders who are continuously insulting the army”. She will soon join Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj as part of the all-important cabinet committee for security.
She took over the reins at a time when the Country’s defence forces are in a crucial stage of modernisation. According to experts, Nirmala will now take key decisions on the new fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force along with new submarines and fighter aircraft for the Navy. Nirmala will also have to release a coherent blacklisting policy which was cleared last year by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Smriti Irani now takes charge of the Information and Broadcasting portfolio as well as the existing textiles portfolio. Smriti has effectively retained I&B ministry after she took over it as additional charge after Venkaiah Naidu resigned ahead of the Vice-Presidential elections.
Among other ministers who were rewarded, Former Power MInister Piyush Goyal was promoted to a more important Railways portfolio. Goyal replaces Suresh Prabhu who had recently offered to resign following a series of train derailments that happened in the country.
Dharmendra Pradhan and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were the other two ministers who got elevated following their excellent performance in their previously held portfolios. Dharmendra Pradhan got an additional portfolio of skill development and entrepreneurship while Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who was in charge of minority affairs after Najma Heptulla resigned got the cabinet portfolio in the rejig.
The elevation of these ministers in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet is testimony to the fact that gender-based constructs which have been the so called "norm" has no role to play in elevations and allocations — performance does. And ever since the new cabinet list was released after the reshuffle, people have been applauding PM Modi and rightfully, for following the policy of ‘Perform or Perish.’