Yashwant Sinha, IAS (born 6 November 1937) is an Indian politician and a former finance minister of India (1990–1991 under Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar and March 1998 – July 2002 under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) and foreign minister (July 2002 – May 2004) in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. He is a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is now the single most dominant party of the Indian parliament after the 2014 general election. His son Jayant Sinha, a consultant and investor, won the 2014 elections for the Hazaribagh constituency and his son is currently serving as Minister of State for Civil Aviation in Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
In 2015, in recognition for his contributions to Indo-French relations, Sinha was conferred the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian honor.
Sinha was born in Patna, Bihar into a Kayastha family. He received his master’s degree in Political Science in 1958. Subsequently, he taught the subject at the University of Patna till 1960.
Sinha joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1960 and spent over 24 years holding important posts during his service tenure. He served as Sub-Divisional Magistrate and District Magistrate for 4 years. He was Under Secretary and Deputy Secretary in the Finance Department of the Bihar Government for 2 years after which he worked in the Ministry of Commerce as Deputy Secretary to the Government of India.
From 1971 to 1973, he was First Secretary (Commercial) in the Indian Embassy, Bonn, Germany. Subsequently, he worked as Consul General of India in Frankfurt from 1973 to 1974. After working for over seven years in this field, he acquired experience in matters relating to foreign trade and India’s relations with the European Economic Community. Thereafter, he worked in the Department of Industrial Infrastructure, Government of Bihar State and in the Ministry of Industry, Government of India dealing with foreign industrial collaborations, technology imports, intellectual property rights and industrial approvals.
He later was Joint Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Surface Transport from 1980 to 1984, his main responsibilities were road transport, ports and shipping. He resigned from service in 1984.
He became the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party in June 1996. He was appointed finance minister in March 1998. He was appointed as Minister for External Affairs on 1 July 2002. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2004, he was defeated in Hazaribagh Constituency. He re-entered the Parliament in 2005. On 13 June 2009, he resigned from the post of vice-president of BJP.
Sinha has a wide range of interests including reading, gardening and meeting people. He has widely travelled and has led a number of political and social delegations. He played a leading role in many negotiations on behalf of India. Sinha’s wife is Nilima Sinha, one of India’s leading children’s writers and President, Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children. He has a daughter, Sharmila who is a writer and married to Ashok Kantha, an Indian Foreign Service officer. He has two sons, Jayant and Sumant. Jayant Sinha is an Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) and Harvard Business School graduate. He was a partner in McKinsey & Company and later a managing director at Omidyar Network. Jayant also contested elections for Member of Parliament from Yashwant Sinha’s home constituency of Hazaribagh, which he won by a margin of 159,128 votes, getting a total of 406,931 in his favour. Sumant Sinha is also an alumnus of IIT Delhi, the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, and was a Dean’s Fellow at The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. He is the founder and chairman of ReNew Power, a renewable energy power producer. Yashwant has five grandchildren named Siddhant, Aashir, Tarushi, Devansh, and Rishabh.