Military preparedness, sorting out long-pending issues, ‘Make in India’ and welfare of families of soldiers would be the areas of focus, newly appointed defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.
Military preparedness, sorting out long-pending issues, ‘Make in India’ and welfare of families of soldiers would be the areas of focus, newly appointed defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday. She assumed charge at the South Block office in the presence of her predecessor Arun Jaitley and minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre. “My priority will definitely be the armed forces’ preparedness. It is important that the Indian armed forces receive the attention in terms of giving them every endowment and equipment necessary for them to perform their duty with the best of equipment available,” she said in a message after assuming charge.
Promising to address long-pending issues, the minister said, “I will address all long-pending issues in consultation with the prime minister and the Cabinet.”
As the defence minister, Sitharaman is part of the all-powerful Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which also includes the prime minister, home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Speaking later at her first engagement, an event organised by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the new minister said it was a privilege to hand over indigenous products on her first engagement after assuming office.
The DRDO event, which also attended by home minister Rajnath Singh, saw the handing over of armoured buses, bullet proof jacket, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and small arms, among others, to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).
Singh noted that the media has complimented Sitharaman as India’s first full-time defence minister and said with her, the defence ministry will get energy and direction.
Pointing out that the country’s “import dependence has gone up”, Singh said that the systems being developed by DPSUs under the ‘Make in India’ initiative will reduce the dependence. Observing that defence procurements for the home ministry are done through the defence ministry, he said these delayed procurement for the CAPFs. “We need a framework for the supply of defence equipment to CAPFs,” he said
While stressing on Make in India, Sitharaman, who has earlier been commerce minister, said, “It is very important for defence capability to have a Make in India. We will ensure that it’s given full play for defence production.” “With technology coming in, we have to ensure that we ‘make in India’ so that we benefit and also send these to the international market,” she added.
Sitharaman is the first-ever independent woman defence minister. Indira Gandhi had held the portfolio for more than two years as the prime minister.