When wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured in Pakistan, all eyes were on a lady – Nirmala Sitharaman -- as she is heading the world’s third-largest defence force, which has more than 1 million personnel.
It's International Women's Day and this is probably the best day to take a look at the 59-year old woman and draw inspiration from here as she had once even worked as a saleswoman in London.
Here we list out a few life lessons for you women out there:
The status never matters
Sitharaman hailed from a middle-class family from Madurai. Her father Narayanan Sitharaman worked in the Railways, while her mother Savitri was a homemaker. She spent her childhood in different parts of Tamil Nadu owing to her father’s transferable job but that didn't prevent her from losing focus on studies.
She went on to pursue graduation in Economics and then to JNU to finish her master's taking up M.Phil in Economics with a special interest in Indo-European trade.
Choose one's own way
Although Sitharaman was supposed to take a Ph.D, she decided to ditch it over her love life. She got married to Prabhakar Parakala, whom she had met during her JNU days. And what not, she stuck to her maiden name and preferred Sitharaman although during those days women usually opted for husbands' name as surname.
Using opportunities that come one's way
After the marriage, the couple shifted to London for Prabhakar to take his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics. However, Sitharaman took up a different route altogether. She worked as a salesgirl, at Habitat, a store that specialised in home decor. She used the best moments of the job that she was even awarded a bottle of champagne for her exceptional performance.
Never ever settle down
It was by 1991 that Sitharaman and Prabhakar returned to India. With the kind of determination to do something all the time, she established a school in Hyderabad. That's when she got in touch with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj. Sitharaman's attitude and knowledge impressed Sushma and the duo's collaboration later resulted in Sitharaman's appointment as a member of the National Women’s Commission. She successfully completed her three-year tenure in the NWC (2003-2005).
Family is priority but work is worship
Although she served well as NWC member, Sitharaman felt she had to do more. And that's how she joined BJP. Interestingly, her husband is the son of a renowned Congress politician but she went ahead and chose to join the BJP.
As a BJP member, she voiced her opinions freely and thus became the BJP spokesperson in 2010. She was noted for her strong stand on various issues.
In 2014, with Narendra Modi winning the elections, she was given a ministerial position in the cabinet. She took charge as the Minister of State for Ministry of Commerce and Industry. And on Sep 3, 2017, she was appointed as the Defence Minister.
“Somebody who has come from a small town, grown into the party with all the support of the leadership, and if given such responsibility, it just makes you feel sometimes that cosmic grace is there. Otherwise it is impossible,” she had said after taking oath as defence minister.
Hats off to her!