7 Lessons from the Fearless First Female Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman

From a Senior Manager at PwC, London to becoming India’s first female Finance Minister; Nirmala Sitharaman has paved quite a remarkable journey as an economist and politician. Sitharaman is the Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister of India and was sworn in on 31st May 2019 and she is one of the three women in the Indian Cabinet. Before this monumental post, in 2017, Nirmala Sitharaman served as the Defence Minister for India as well. An influential figure in Indian and World economics; Mrs Sitharaman has been crowned as the 41st most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine in 2020. Let us look at some of the lessons we can learn from the historical journey of the first female finance minister India has ever seen! 

Individuality and Integrity

Courtesy: NDTV

Nirmala Sithraman is an individualist with her own set of beliefs, goals and political ideals. In 2006, she decided to join the Bharatiya Janata Party while her husband, Parakala Prabhakar and his family who were Congress supporters, extended support to the Prajarajyam Party. The two accomplished Indian economists might be married but are often at loggerheads with each other when it comes to political ideologies or economic models. Their successful marriage and individualist aspirations teach us to be true to ourselves and not compromise on our integrity and beliefs. 

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Love for Academics    

Courtesy: The Wire

An avid reader and scholar; Nirmala Sithramana’s passion for academics is an integral part of her upbringing. Sithraraman spent a large portion of her formative years in her town Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu. She studied and completed her bachelors in economics from Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College in Tiruchirapalli before moving to Delhi in 1984 to pursue masters in economics and later MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Sitharaman had even enrolled herself for PhD at JNU but didn’t complete her dissertation on India-Europe Textile Trade because she moved to London with her husband. Advocate for education and literacy, Sitharaman founded the Pranava school in Hyderabad after returning from London. 

Enthusiasm for Change

Nirmala Sitharaman is the true advocate for change and betterment. This commitment towards change made her join student politics at JNU where she joined the Free Thinkers group and campaigned extensively for the party and remained an active member. Her passion for change is reflected in her career path especially as the director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies and her work as a member of the National Commission for Women.


Heralding the Indian economy through some of the toughest times ever requires conviction and courage. The state of the Indian economy when Nirmala Sitharaman first became the finance minister was abysmal. The rampant corruption and widespread unemployment were the two biggest challenges and along came the nightmare of a pandemic. Without losing sight of the real challenges, the finance minister worked hard and announced a number of schemes to help the vulnerable sections of our society in these hard times. Even the latest Budget of 2021 underlines Sitaraman’s bold nature and commitment to growth and prosperity.     

Respect for Indian Culture

Nirmala Sitharaman
Courtesy: BBC

Often seen quoting Indian poets and thinkers like Rabindranath Tagore and Thiruvalluvar; the finance minister finds value and wisdom in the powerful and cultural works of Indian thinkers. Her love for Indian culture is not just limited to reading about Indian poets and thinkers but extends to promoting Indian local goods. Actively working towards the preservation of Indian heritage, the politician even proposed the setting up of the Indian Institute of Heritage and Tribal museum. She also announced the renovation and recreation of museums to promote tourism. 

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Born and brought in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu to Narayanan Sitharaman and Shrimati Savitri. As a child, Nirmala Sitharaman travelled extensively around Tamil Nadu because of the nature of her father’s job. Her love for travelling manifested in her as a child. For higher studies, she moved to Delhi and then to London with her husband as he pursued his PhD. As a high-ranking Indian politician, Nirmala Sitharaman has travelled and represented the Indian state in various countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, France, Russia and more at several international and regional conferences. 

A Pillar of Strength

Nirmala Sitharaman is a hard-working, passionate individual who started off as a salesperson at Habitat and worked her way up to the prestigious position of finance minister of India. This journey spells strength, conviction and thirst for self-development. Marking a mark in one of the most male-dominated fields is not easy; Sitharaman joined BJP in 2006 but it wasn’t until 2014 that she got her first break into the active political arena. Sitharaman has held prominent portfolios like Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry; the politician and economist proved her calibre and got the prestigious position as the Minister of Defence in 2017.  

Courtesy: DD News

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading about the political stalwart who is guiding the Indian economy through the world’s hardest recessions. These lessons from the fierce Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will surely help you stand out in your career! For more such amazing and inspirational reads, follow Leverage Edu on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Facebook.

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