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Will look at combat role for women with open mind, says Nirmala Sitharaman

During his brief term, Arun Jaitley had taken lot of calls in lot of matters... I also want to see the files on women in combat roles, where they stand, the new defence minister says.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2017 21:53 IST
Indo Asian News Service, New Delhi
Reshuffle of Modi cabinet,Cabinet reshuffle,Narendra Modi
Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the media at her residence in New Delhi after taking oath as a Union Minister on Sunday. Sitharaman has been alloted the defence portfolio, the only second women since Indira Gandhi.(PTI)

Set to take charge as India’s first, full-fledged woman defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said she will look into the matter of giving combat role to women with an open mind and not as a matter of patronage.

Asked if she would look into the case of combat roles in the armed forces, she said: “This is the matter where I definitely look into all the things before me with open mind that open mind which is required for this matter and not patronage”.

“I think during his brief term, (Arun) Jaitley ji has taken lot of calls in lot of matters... I also want to see the files (on women in combat roles) where they stand... Earlier when I was member of National Commission for Women, these matters for woman empowerment and true empowerment of women were discussed,” she said in an interview to CNN News 18 news channel.

Asked if her selection as defence minister broke a glass ceiling, she said: “Yes. Absolutely. I think the Prime Minister has always supported women but today I think he has sent a very big message. Everything Indian women were waiting for.. it is for us to work through and perform (to achieve it). “

“I am overwhelmed. I understand the impact of the decision. It is a huge responsibility. I just have no words in which I can convey my gratitude to the Prime Minister, the party and to my senior colleagues that they thought I am good enough for the role,” she added.

Sitharaman also said it sent out a message to the world.

“Imagine, the Cabinet Committee on Security having two women... Decisions on security-related matters being taken at par with men... This is a big message to all the countries which look up to India or even look at India saying what is happening to women in India,” she added.

In past, late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had held the portfolio of defence twice - from December 1 to December 21 in 1975, and January 14, 1980 to January 15, 1982.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 20:28 IST