Arun Jait­ley – Sec­ond in­nings as De­fence Min­is­ter

The port­fo­lio of de­fence is key and highly crit­i­cal one. So is the fi­nance port­fo­lio. But for some­one like Arun Jait­ley who is so knowl­edge­able, so ca­pa­ble and so much in con­trol, hold­ing im­por­tant po­si­tions in the Cabi­net is not un­man­age­able. Prime Mi­nis

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By R. Chan­drakanth ]

Arun Jait­ley on March 14, 2017, took ad­di­tional charge as De­fence Min­is­ter, in New Delhi, af­ter Manohar Par­rikar re­signed from that post to take over as the Chief Min­is­ter of Goa. Jait­ley cur­rently holds the port­fo­lio of the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Cor­po­rate Af­fairs.

On his ar­rival at the Min­istry of De­fence in South Block, Arun Jait­ley was re­ceived by the Min­is­ter of State for De­fence Dr Sub­hash Bhamre, De­fence Sec­re­tary G. Mo­han Ku­mar and other se­nior of­fi­cials. Jait­ley held a meet­ing with se­nior of­fi­cials to take stock of the min­istry.

This is the sec­ond time Jait­ley is hold­ing ad­di­tional charge as the De­fence Min­is­ter. When he took charge of the de­fence port­fo­lio in the first in­stance, he had said: “Se­cu­rity of In­dia is a mat­ter of prime im­por­tance and pre­dom­i­nantly the ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity of In­dia is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of this Min­istry”. For this he stated that “pre­pared­ness and sup­port to our armed forces and speed­ing up all equip­ment re­quired for their sup­port are go­ing to be the pri­or­ity ar­eas as far as our govern­ment is con­cerned”. He also re­marked that dur­ing the UPA govern­ment, some of the ar­eas in the Min­istry had slowed down and there­fore, ex­pe­dit­ing them will be a mat­ter of top pri­or­ity.

Oner­ous Tasks Ahead

When he first took over, he had said en­hanc­ing the FDI limit be­yond the ex­ist­ing 26 per cent was an is­sue which will be dealt with by his two min­istries. Sub­se­quently, the FDI norms were re­laxed to al­low 100 per cent FDI in de­fence, a trans­for­ma­tional move to help in­di­geni­sa­tion of the de­fence in­dus­try. With em­pha­sis on mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces and ag­gres­sive ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive, Jait­ley will be faced with an in­creas­ingly im­pa­tient in­dus­try which is ex­pect­ing large-scale work once the De­fence Min­istry fi­nalises its strate­gic part­ner­ships (SP) model — a plan to se­lect key in­dus­try play­ers for large man­u­fac­tur­ing projects. Jait­ley will have to do a bal­anc­ing act of keep­ing the armed forces spend­ing in tune with needs and also the gen­eral eco­nomic cli­mate. With de­fence ac­count­ing for over 16 per cent of govern­ment’s an­nual spend­ing, Jait­ley will have to take a call on the in­fu­sion of more cap­i­tal for mod­erni­sa­tion.

Held Many Se­nior Po­si­tions

Cur­rently a Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber from Gu­jarat, Jait­ley has been a Cabi­net Min­is­ter in the Naren­dra Modi govern­ment since May 26, 2014. He was given the Fi­nance and Cor­po­rate Af­fairs port­fo­lio along with De­fence and also In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing for few months.

Jait­ley has been a mem­ber of the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive of Bharatiya Janata Party since 1991. On Oc­to­ber 13, 1999, in the Atal Bhiari Va­j­payee govern­ment, he was ap­pointed Min­is­ter of State for In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing (In­de­pen­dent Charge). He was also ap­pointed Min­is­ter of State for Dis­in­vest­ment (In­de­pen­dent Charge), a new min­istry cre­ated for the first time to give ef­fect to the pol­icy of dis­in­vest­ments. Be­sides, he also took ad­di­tional charge of the Min­istry of Law, Jus­tice and Com­pany Af­fairs on July 23, 2000. Later, he be­came a Cabi­net Min­is­ter in Novem­ber 2000 and si­mul­ta­ne­ously took charge of the Min­istry of Law, Jus­tice and Com­pany Af­fairs and Shipping. In June 2009, he was cho­sen as the leader of the op­po­si­tion in Ra­jya Sabha.

Early Life

Arun Jait­ley was born on De­cem­ber 28, 1952, to Ma­haraj Kishen and Ratan Prabha Jait­ley. His fa­ther was a lawyer. Jait­ley did school­ing at St. Xavier’s School, New Delhi, from 1960-69. He grad­u­ated in com­merce from Shri Ram Col­lege of Com­merce, New Delhi, in 1973 and passed law de­gree from the Univer­sity of Delhi in 1977. Jait­ley got mar­ried to Sangeeta Dogra on May 24, 1982, and has two chil­dren — son Ro­han and daugh­ter Son­ali.

Ac­tive in Stu­dent Pol­i­tics

From his stu­dent days, he was very ac­tively in­volved in pub­lic af­fairs. He was an Akhil Bharatiya Vid­yarthi Par­ishad (ABVP) stu­dent ac­tivist in the Delhi Univer­sity in the 1970s and be­came Pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity Stu­dents’ Union in 1974.

Af­ter ob­tain­ing LL.B., he was prac­tis­ing law be­fore the Supreme Court of In­dia and sev­eral High Courts in the coun­try since 1977. In Jan­uary 1990, he was des­ig­nated as a Se­nior Ad­vo­cate by the Delhi High Court. He was ap­pointed Ad­di­tional So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral in 1989. Jait­ley who is very ar­tic­u­late was a del­e­gate on be­half of the Govern­ment of In­dia to the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly Ses­sion in June 1998 where the Dec­la­ra­tion on Laws Re­lat­ing to Drugs and Money Laun­der­ing was ap­proved.

Dur­ing the pe­riod of procla­ma­tion of In­ter­nal Emer­gency (197577) when civil lib­er­ties were sus­pended, he was placed un­der pre­ven­tive de­ten­tion first in the Am­bala jail and then in the Ti­har jail, Delhi. In 1977, be­ing the con­vener of the Lok­tantric Yuva Mor­cha at a time when the Congress suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat in the gen­eral elec­tions, he was ap­pointed the pres­i­dent of the Delhi ABVP and All In­dia Sec­re­tary of the ABVP. Later, he headed the youth wing of the BJP as its pres­i­dent.

Role as Leader of Op­po­si­tion

As leader of op­po­si­tion, he has fo­cused on the ef­forts to po­si­tion BJP as a party which plays a proac­tive role in the demo­cratic func­tion­ing of the coun­try. Thus many steps have been taken to ex­pose deficit of gov­er­nance; be it var­i­ous cor­rup­tion scan­dals such as the 2G spec­trum scam, the Com­mon­wealth Games scam, the An­trix-Devas deal, or the fail­ure on the eco­nomic front to rein in spi­ral­ing in­fla­tion and to push for a sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive for in­vest­ments and growth. The party played a very con­struc­tive role while pass­ing the his­toric Women’s Reser­va­tion Bill in Ra­jya Sabha. Sim­i­larly, the party kept the govern­ment un­der scru­tiny while pass­ing the Indo-US civil nu­clear deal. The party sup­ported the Anna Hazare move­ment for bring­ing in a strong and ef­fec­tive Lok Pal and suc­cess­fully re­sisted the pass­ing in the Ra­jya Sabha of a weak bill passed by Lok Sabha.

Jait­ley is so ver­sa­tile, elo­quent, com­posed and fo­cused that the bu­reau­cracy can­not pull wool over his eyes. And it is for that rea­son, he is top rank­ing min­is­ter in the Modi cabi­net.

(Left) Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with Union Min­is­ter for Fi­nance, Cor­po­rate Af­fairs and De­fence, Arun Jait­ley, at a book re­lease function in May 2014 in New Delhi; (right) A file pho­to­graph of Arun Jait­ley talk­ing to the me­dia.

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