From A Small Town To India’s Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman's Rise To The Top

Last updated 5 Sep 2017 . 3 min read

“Best advice I ever received? Always choose the middle path and try to maintain equanimity.

In other words, never go to any extreme - don't be too suppliant because you will lose your dignity nor be too overconfident and aggressive or you will eventually lose your ground.

Remain balanced. That way you can never fall too far," these are the words of our freshly sworn in Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman.

Indira Gandhi also took charge of this portfolio from 1980 to 1982, while being Prime Minister. When women make history, shouldn’t we know more about them?

Well here are some quick facts about Ms Sitharaman.

  • She was born in 1959 in Tiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu to a middle class family with no political lineage.
  • Her father was an employee in the Railways and due to his transferable job, Sitharaman has lived in different cities, being adaptive to change.
  • She  graduated from Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College in Tiruchirapalli with BA Economics and went on to earn a postgraduate degree in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), followed by an MPhil in International Studies. She has written a doctoral thesis on Indo-European Textile Trade.
  • She met her husband Parakala Prabhakar at JNU (currently Communications Advisor, holding a cabinet rank position in the Andhra Pradesh Government).  
  • While her husband studied in London School of Economics, she worked as the Senior Manager of Research and Analysis in PricewaterhouseCoopers London, followed by a short stint at BBC World Services.


Nirmala Sitharaman

  • After the couple’s return to India in 1991, Sitharaman established a Centre for Public Policy Studies in Hyderabad and took on the role of Deputy Director there.
  • She is one of the founder members of Pranav International School in Hyderabad, known for its unconventional approach to learning and education.
  • She has been a member of the National Commission for Women from 2003-2005.
  • She joined the BJP in 2006 and became a National Executive of the party from 2008 for two years.
  • In 2010, Sitharaman was chosen as the National Spokesperson of the BJP by Nitin Gadkari and she held that term for 4 years.
  • After the BJP’s historic win in 2014, she was appointed as the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry with an independent charge.


Nirmala Sitharaman


  • She was also elected as the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs.
  • Interestingly, she became a Union Minister first and then a Member of the Parliament.
  • She was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
  • In 2016, she was chosen as a member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.

We wish Nirmala Sitharaman all the very best for her term!

Nirupama Kondayya
Nirupama feels that life is all about #TakingCharge, one step at a time, everyday. She truly believes that women have the potential to achieve their dreams, once they put their heart into it. She also believes that being grateful for little things has big impacts in life.

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