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Will Look at Combat Roles For Women With Open Mind, Says Nirmala Sitharaman

The Cabinet Committee on Security has two women and we will take decisions on security-related matters. This is a big message to women, said the new defence minister.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18pallavighcnnibn

Updated:September 3, 2017, 8:42 PM IST
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New Delhi: New defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is the second woman to take charge of the ministry after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, says that PM Narendra Modi has sent a strong message that Indian women can perform. CNN-News18’s Pallavi Ghosh caught up with her after her elevation. Excerpts:

Q. It’s rare for a woman to become a full time Defence Minister. What is the sense you are getting, what’s going through your mind?

A. I understand the impact of the decision and it is a huge responsibility. I just have no way to convey my gratitude to the Prime Minister and the party that they thought I am good enough for the role entrusted to me.

Q. In a way it is like breaking the glass ceiling…

A. Yes. The Prime Minister has always supported women and today he’s sent a strong message for Indian women that they can perform.

Q. What is the message it sends out?
A. Imagine, the Cabinet Committee on Security has two women. Decisions on security-related matters will be taken by women along with the others. This is a big message to women.

Q. A lot of women are demanding combat roles in the Army. Will you look into that?

A. Mr. Arun Jaitley has taken a lot of calls. I also want to see where this matter stands and I will talk to various stakeholders. This is a matter that I am going to look into with an open mind.

Q. What is the larger message the Prime Minister has sent out with the reshuffle? The Opposition has said its all candy floss and that he fell back on bureaucrats for want of talent.
A. I don’t agree that it’s just all bureaucrats who have joined. Once they retired from their service, they joined the BJP and have been with the BJP for the last 7 or 8 years. They’ve been elected by people and are in the Lok Sabha and in some cases the state legislatures. It’s not fair to say that for want of talent the Prime Minister has fallen back on bureaucrats.

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