- New Delhi, September 7 Nirmala Sitharaman, the newly appointed Defence Minister, on Thursday said military preparedness, sorting out long-pending issues, ‘Make in India’ and welfare of families of soldiers would be areas of focus.Sitharaman assumed charge as Defence Minister at the South Block office here in the presence of outgoing Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and the Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhmare.In a brief statement after taking over, Sitharaman said, “My priority will definitely be the armed force preparedness.”It is important that the Indian armed forces received all attention in terms of giving them every necessary endowment and equipment to perform their duty, she added.Promising to address the long-pending issues, the Minister said, “I will address all long-pending issues in consultation with the Prime Minister and the cabinet.”
Sitharaman, who was commerce minister in the Modi cabinet, stressed upon ‘Make in India’. India is the world’s biggest importer of weapons and military equipment. “It’s 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 said one of her priorities would be the families of the armed forces personnel. “Soldiers and their families should remain absolutely assured that their interests are watched,” she said.The taking over of Sitharaman had been scheduled for Thursday and was consequent to the return of Jaitley from his visit to Japan. Sitharaman was appointed Defence Minister on Sunday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi effected a reshuffle of his council of ministers. Sitharaman is the first-ever independent woman Defence Minister. Indira Gandhi held the portfolio for more than two years as the prime minister.
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