India Gets New Defense Minister in Modi Cabinet Reshuffle – Bloomberg

India got a full-time defense minister after Prime Minister Narendra Modi shuffled his cabinet Sunday, a move that may speed up acquisitions as the government spends $250 billion on everything from warplanes to submarines.

Nirmala Sitharaman will be the nation’s second female defense minister, taking over the responsibility from Arun Jaitley, who had been handling the portfolio in addition to his finance duties. Previously, she was the Commerce and Industry Minister and had also fielded questions from journalists as the party spokeswoman.

Nirmala Sitharaman

The appointment gives India — a country faced with pressing security challenges and aging Soviet-era military equipment — a dedicated minister who may be able to speed up a defense procurement process plagued by bureaucratic delays.

“The absence of a full-time defense minister was glaring, especially since India faces a considerably challenging security scenario,” said Anit Mukherjee, an assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

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