India’s Union Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, may well be the testimony to philanthropist Melinda Gates’s belief, ‘When money flows into the hands of women, who have the authority to use it, everything changes — for women, their families, and their communities,’ as she has been ranked 32nd in the Forbes World’s Most Powerful Women list for 2023.
Sitharaman has secured her fifth consecutive appearance, and the spot marks a milestone for the 64-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, as she surpasses her previous rankings: 36 in 2022, 37 in 2021, 41 in 2020, and 34 in 2019. Interestingly, the Indian economist and politician has been the Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister since 2019, when she first made it to the list.
One Among the Formidable Foursome from India
Sitharaman stands alongside three other Indian women who have also achieved this recognition: HCL Corporation Chairperson Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Steel Authority Of India Chairperson Soma Mondal, and Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.
The quartet is among the 100 names featured in Forbes’ annual compilation. Forbes also spotlighted Sitharaman’s distinction as India’s initial full-time female finance minister, emphasizing her prior positions at the UK-based Agricultural Engineers Association and BBC World Service before her foray into politics. She is the second woman to hold the defense portfolio after Indira Gandhi. On the list, American host and television producer Oprah Winfrey and Singapore entrepreneur Ho Ching were featured before and after her, respectively.
What the Forbes Ranking Took into Consideration
The categorization of Forbes’s list encompassed six distinct fields: politics and policy, business, finance, media and entertainment, philanthropy, and technology. The breakdown consisted of:
- 18 women in politics and policy
- 37 in business
- 19 in finance
- 12 in media and entertainment
- 6 in philanthropy
- 9 in technology
The list is formulated based on financial standing, media visibility, societal impact, and extent of influence in various spheres, highlighting critical global concerns such as reproductive rights, girls’ education, combating gender-based violence, and climate policies. This emphasis underscores the advocacy for women’s rights and well-being, especially in economically disadvantaged regions.
Significant Impact on India’s Politics and Economics
Sitharaman’s inclusion in the list underlines her significant impact on India’s economic policies, showcasing her pivotal role in politics, GDP considerations, and population management. Succeeding the late Arun Jaitley, Sitharaman’s tenure as finance minister has played a crucial role in shaping economic strategies, particularly in confronting global challenges, notably the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joining the BJP in 2008, SItharaman became a national spokesperson for the party in 2009. She was elevated to the Cabinet rank as a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and Karnataka in 2016. She became the Minister of Defence in 2017, overseeing the Balakot airstrike in 2019 in response to the Pulwama attack. The same year saw her becoming the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, and she presented five annual budgets for India.
India’s GDP growth since Nirmala Sitharaman assumed office in 2019
Notable Initiatives for India
As the finance minister, Sitharaman has introduced several economic reforms and measures to revive the Indian economy. Some of her notable initiatives include:
- Aatmanirbhar Bharat package
- Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for social welfare during the Covid-19 lockdown
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi financially supports small and marginal farmers.
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, providing universal access to banking services
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana offers free cooking gas connections to poor households.
- Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana aimed to provide affordable housing to the urban and rural poor
- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, which provided loans to micro, small and medium enterprises
Forbes’ global compilation of influential women showcases such figures as Taylor Swift and Vice President Kamala Harris.
I’m Archana R. Chettiar, an experienced content creator with
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