Nirmala Sitharaman

Defense Minister India

Nirmala Sitharaman was named India's Defense Minister on September 2,2017. She's the first to assume the post after 35 years since the country had a woman as head of the Defense Ministry: Indira Gandhi who served in 1975 and again in 1980-1982.

Sitharaman who also served as Minister of State for Commerce has a Master's in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University and had worked in London at PricewaterhouseCoopers and briefly with BBC World Service.

Upon her return to India, she served as Deputy Director of the Center for Public Policy Studies at Hyderabad before starting a school there. She was also a member of the National Commission for Women from 2003-2005.

Born in a small town in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Sitharaman said she's thankful for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trust in her leadership. She joined Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2008 and became its spokesperson in 2010.India is on a mission to modernize and strengthen its defense system. The Ministry of Defense was given a budget of US$53.5 billion for 2017-2018 with a significant portion allocated to procure modern warfare, including sophisticated military planes.

In the next few years, experts say India plans to buy more submarines and helicopters for the Indian Navy, fighter jets for the Indian Air Force and sophisticated weaponries for the Army, amid continuing threats from its rouge neighbors.