Sitharaman is India's first full-time woman defence minister. Photograph: (Reuters)
Nirmala Sitharaman was on Sunday made India's defence minister
India's new defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is only the second woman to head the ministry and the first one to do so full-time.
Indira Gandhi had also taken charge of the ministry twice in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, but that was while she was prime minister.
Sitharaman's first comments after her appointment reflected the enormity of the occasion.
"It is very big responsibility. To me, very overwhelming day, just can't express my feelings," she told ANI.
It is very big responsibility. To me, very overwhelming day, just can't express my feelings: newly appointed Defence Min Nirmala Sitharaman pic.twitter.com/JnlvEMdQqD— ANI (@ANI) September 3, 2017
With Sitharaman now joining the Cabinet Committee on Security, she is going to be among the top five ministers in the Narendra Modi government.
"What is more important is there are going to be two women in the Cabinet Committee on Security, Sushmaji and me," she told ANI.
What is more important is there are going to be 2 women in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Sushma-ji & me: New Defence Minister pic.twitter.com/vo69ZrbVKn— ANI (@ANI) September 3, 2017
The other woman on the CCS is external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
The other three people on the committee being home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sitharaman's next comments seemed to indicate the enormity of the occasion was sinking in.
"Have to prove and perform to satisfy the goals which are expected of me. In all probability, it (taking charge) will be on September 6," she said.
Have to prove & perform to satisfy the goals which are expected of me. In all probability, it(taking charge) will be on Sept 6: N Sitharaman pic.twitter.com/17EjjA1UQz— ANI (@ANI) September 3, 2017
Before this, Sitharaman was minister of state for finance and corporate affairs, and minister with independent charge for commerce and industry.