Nirmala Sitharaman becoming the Finance Minister of India is a significant milestone in the history of Indian politics and economy. She is the first full-time female finance minister of the country and the second woman to hold this portfolio after Indira Gandhi, who was also the prime minister. She has been entrusted with the responsibility of steering the Indian economy through the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the global slowdown, and the structural reforms needed to boost growth and development.
Sitharaman has a strong academic background in economics and has worked in various sectors, including agriculture, commerce, industry, defence, and corporate affairs. She has also been a vocal spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a key member of the Modi cabinet. She has been ranked among the world’s most powerful women by Forbes and Fortune magazines.
As the finance minister, Sitharaman has presented three budgets so far, each with a different theme and focus. Her maiden budget in 2019 was aimed at making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024, with an emphasis on infrastructure, investment, innovation, and inclusive growth. Her second budget in 2020 was focused on providing relief and stimulus to the economy amid the Covid-19 crisis, with measures such as tax cuts, liquidity support, social welfare schemes, and health spending. Her third budget in 2021 was hailed as a growth-oriented and reformist budget, with proposals such as privatisation of public sector enterprises, asset monetisation, fiscal expansion, infrastructure development, and health care boost.
Sitharaman has also played a key role in shaping India’s position and priorities in the global arena, especially as the president of the G20 summit in 2023. She has advocated for a fair and sustainable tax system, a coordinated approach to regulate crypto-assets, a revamp of multilateral development banks, a common framework for debt resolution, and a mechanism to generate resources for climate finance.
Sitharaman’s achievements as the finance minister of India reflect her vision, leadership, and commitment to serve the nation and its people. She has shown courage and resilience in facing the unprecedented challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. She has also inspired many women and girls to aspire for higher positions and roles in society. She is undoubtedly one of the most influential and respected figures in Indian politics and economy today.