A Woman of Substance: Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Honb’le Defence Minister
Speaker: Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman
Moderator: Ms. Ankita Mukherji, NDTV Anchor
Venue: Taj Bengal
Date: 30th April, 2018
As our new LSG President, Mrs. Madhulika Kanoria, stated her theme for the upcoming year – Inspire, Influence, Impact – India’s Raksha Mantri, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, embodied this message in front of a captivated audience.
Having shattered many a glass ceiling herself, some unnoticed and others nationally visible, Sitharaman opened the session by stating that there is , “No such a thing as a ‘man’s job’ anymore”. Senior NDTV Editor and Calcutta’s very own Ankita Mukherji expertly anchored the event. In an allusion to Sitharaman’s iconic photo in Shanghai, where she stands tall, in a pristine, green sari, flanked by men in dark suits, Mukherji aptly proclaimed that ‘a picture is worth a 1000 words’.
A striking conversation ensued. Ankita, in her trademark, incisive style, posed questions to the minister on the Doklam stand-off and the Prime Minister’s informal China session. Sitharaman valiantly emphasized that India’s mature handling of the disengagement was a matter of national pride; the informal meeting of two great leaders had paved the way for a distinct relationship between the countries, strengthened by the prospect of long-term imports. Questioned on the CPEC, the Defence Minister unequivocally asserted that India’s sovereignty was sacrosanct.
Unhesitant to speak her mind, on the issue of women’s safety, the Minister admitted that multiple pillars of support had to be created at all levels, starting from the ground-up. Although individual women had attained great heights, general conditions needed betterment. She revealed that the government was working on amendments to the IPC, on various legislations that framed stricter punishments for perpetrators, as well as on expedited redressal proceedings through special courts.
Ankita continued to pose intelligent questions to Sitharaman on a host of issues ranging from violence on JNU’s Campus , to border tensions, parliamentary deadlock, Karnataka’s elections, rural electrification, and the Corporate restoration of India’s heritage buildings. Sitharaman’s dexterity and wit shone through, as she floored the audience with her clear, honest responses to each of these issues.
The Ladies Study Group was proud to have hosted such an awe-inspiring session, graced by the presence of India’s first full time Defence Minister. Every member & guest was left energized, confident and proud that the nation’s security lies in able hands.