The Ministry of Defense is the secret password of the intelligence, safety and security systems of a country. And the Defense Minister, its head, the leader of a nation’s intelligence. At the surface, it might appear just like the role of other politicians in the Parliament. However, as the role signifies, it is quite a role of responsibility. One needs to have tough iron shoulders to handle the security of the country. In brief, the chief role of the Ministry of Defence is to administer all the functions of the government related to the Indian armed forces and the national security.
Below mentioned are some of the best and sought-out defence ministers of India, each one of whom is known for their stringent measures taken to safeguard their mother land and fight back terrorism.
10. Baldev Singh
Appointed on 2nd September 1946, Baldev Singh served the Ministry of Defence for six years. That was the time just around the Independence and so, entire nation was in a tangled situation. People fled from the newly-formed Pakistan and were rushing, migrating and yearning to be with their families. Only few could survive but under his leadership, over 10 million Sikhs and Hindus were provided refuge and relief by the Indian Army. Singh, along with his commanders also hatched plans for Operation Polo, to take possession of the native state Hyderabad.
9. Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan
Taking over the ministerial job after Krishna Menon, Yashwantrao joined the Ministry of Defense in 1962. He buried the hatchet with China and put an end to the animosity between the two countries. He also managed the post-war scenario thoroughly and devised plans to emancipate the armed forces. Also known as the Leader of Common People, Yashwantrao also served as the 5th Deputy Prime Minister of India.
8. Chidambaram Subramaniam
He was inducted as the defence minister in 1979. As the food and agriculture minister, Chidambaram ushered in both Green and White Revolution. Owing to his work, he is popularly known as the ‘political architect’ of Green Revolution by the people of the country.
7. V.K. Krishna Menon
After swearing in as the defence minister in 1957, Menon prevented the ongoing promotion of the Indian army based on seniority, and replaced the selection criteria by job performance. He is also known to have re-organized a good deal of India’s military command arrangement. After being criticised heavily for disrespecting the existing tradition, Menoncommenced the formulation of an arms industry to provide the Indian Army with equipment and weaponry.
6. P.V. Narasimha Rao
Late Rao is well known as one of the most active freedom fighters in India’s struggle for freedom. His contributions made to the Ministry of Defence are abundant, ranging from an increment in military expenditures to dealing with the kidnapping of several non-native tourists productively. Rao was also the 9th Prime Minister of the Republic of India from 1991 to 1996. Apart from this, he is also a Guinness Book of World Record Holder as he won over 5 lac seats in an election conducted in 1991. He was in fact, first of the ministers to have gone out of the way to appoint a non-political economist Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister. Well, all Indians thank him for this!
5. Pranab Mukherjee
While there is no denial how our Mr. President once administered the Ministry of Defense too. Not just defense, he has handled ministries of foreign affairs and finance too. And he is the first one to have served in all the major ministries. During his term in defense, he extended the hands of partnership to United States which later became one of the biggest examples of Mukherjee’s unwavering governance of the Indian Army.
4. R. Venkataraman
Designated as the defence minister in 1982, Venkataraman integrated the complete missile system and termed it as Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. Renowned as the 8th President of independent India, Venkatraman was also a participator in the Quit India Movement earlier.
3. Swaran Singh
Regarded as the longest serving cabinet minister in India, Singh held the position of defence minister twice; first from 1966 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1975. Born in Jalandhar, Singh was famous for his jaw dropping debates with his Pakistani counterpart Zulfikar Bhutto. He was also skilled as a speaker in various languages including Chinese. For his contributions in almost every ministry, he was awarded with the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award in 1992.
2. Jagjivan Ram
Best known for introducing the All India Depressed Classes League, Jagjivan Ram served as the defense minister under Indira Gandhi’s government and also as the youngest minister in Jawahar Lal Nehru governance. During his life and posthumously also, many works have been dedicated to him including the popular book Babu Jagjiva Ram by Dr. Omprakash Maurya. He was popularly called as Babuji by the people.
1. Manohar Parrikar
Graduated in metallurgical engineering from IIT-Bombay, Parrikar is the first ever Chief Minister from IIT. Parrikar served as the defence minister from 2014 to 2017 under the BJP government. He is said to be one of the most distinctively tough defence ministers India has ever had. Said to be the most energetic and forthright ministers in the Modi cabinet, Parrikar was assigned with unambiguous decision making, which until then was perceived as a slack ministry. Besides, in 2012, he was honoured with the CNN-IBN Award for Indian of the Year in Politics category. Though his tenure was short as he had to take charge of Goa as CM, but he had taken many good decision for betterment of Indian Army and India successfully made a surgical strike at Pakistan soil.
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With higher designation comes higher responsibility, and these ministers are legendary examples of this adage, who with their unmitigated dedication brought significant developments to the Ministry of Defence. A salute perhaps would do!