External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has often made headlines in the recent past. But, unlike her colleagues, who are often in the news for putting their foot in their mouth or making outrageous statements to incite hate, Swaraj comes into spotlight for helping distressed citizens.
The way she uses social media as a tool for public accessibility and quick governance sets a precedent for other politicians. The Indian Railways also acts on requests and complaints by the public, but Swaraj is the rare politician who displays affection, warmth and swift decision-making even while tweeting. No wonder, that she has about 6.28 million followers, all of whom wait eagerly for her next “saved the day” story.
Most recently, she assured a worried Australia-residing mother that her two-month-old baby with an Australian passport will get to extend her Indian visa for Diwali.
On October 11, a lady informed Swaraj of her husband's death, and requested that her son, an American citizen, be given a visa so that he could be present for the cremation. At that time, the Indian Embassy in the US was shut for holidays. She quickly intervened, and within a day, the son was able to come to India.
@SushmaSwaraj eternally grateful for ur compassion and help. Just got visa from Chicago consulate. Officers very accomodating & helpful.— Abhai Kaul (@KaulAbhai) October 11, 2016
The stories go on: She helped a Pakistani bride come to India to meet her Indian husband.
In August this year, she helped a man get his wife a passport so that they could be together for their honeymoon in Italy. Others on Twitter were quick to point out that this Twitterer had previously tweeted against her last year, criticising her. But, as was evident, she doesn't hold grudges.
One of the most important tasks that come under the purview of an external affairs minister is to rescue Indians stranded or taken hostage anywhere in the world. Swaraj's ability to take swift action on multiple such instances has boosted her popularity.
In August 2015, a man tweeted to her explaining that his sister was possibly locked up in a house in the UAE, as a victim of trafficking. Swaraj immediately contacted the ambassador in the UAE to rescue her. Much to the man's relief, she responded towards the evening, saying, We have rescued your sister with help of local Police. She is being moved to a shelter home run by Indian Embassy in Dubai.
In May the same year, she helped a woman who lost her passport while on a trip in Berlin, Germany.
Swaraj rescued an Indian nurse stuck in Yemen during a terrorist attack in Aden and brought her back to the country. It was 3am when she tweeted about it, much to the admiration of her fans. She also helped a woman evacuate her eight-month-old baby from Yemen.
In 2015, her efforts to bring back 168 Indians who were trapped in Iraq, gained widespread attention.
Swaraj has also helped out in cases related to foreigners losing their passports in India or going missing. In February, a Dutch woman posted a plea on Facebook to find her missing sister who was on a trip to India. She said that her sister was not reachable, and was last seen in Rishikesh. After inquiries, Swaraj tweeted that they located the girl, who seemed to be “mentally disturbed”. She added, “She received treatment at the Nirmal and Jolly Grant hospitals for injuries on her legs. We are informing her family/Embassy about this.”
A picture of grace and dignity, Swaraj extended her support to Aliya Harir, a Pakistani woman part of a delegation returning back to their country, earlier this month. It came at a time when the air between India and Pakistan was electric due to September's surgical strikes. She said that she was worried about their safety, too, because “daughters belong to us all”.
Besides this, she is also known for her subtle sense of humour. When she couldn't attend the cabinet reshuffle recently, she tweeted saying, “Media – Pl avoid the headline : 'Sushma Skips Oath Ceremony'” Barkha Dutt, amused, tweeted back saying that her tweets were “rather killer”. Swaraj had the last word:
When an admirer wondered whether she was in the Army, because of her tactical skills in getting things done quickly, she joked, “I would have definitely joined the Army. But at that time women were not allowed in the armed forces. Now they say I am overage.”
Between all the hateful clatter and insensitive trolls on Twitter, Swaraj spreads a sense of positivity, care and hope to Indian citizens across the world.