Sushma Swaraj is perhaps one of the most efficient ministers in Modi sarkar. Working at a feverish pace behind the scenes, she has given a breath of life to the otherwise moribund ministry of external affairs. In the last two and a half years, Sushma Swaraj has been able to open the closed, secretive ministry to the masses. Under her stewardship, the ministry has been transformed into an organization catering to the needs of Indians in distress in various foreign countries. The response of her ministry and the conduct of her colleagues V.K Singh and now MJ Akbar has won her accolades from far and wide.
That having been said, Sushma Swaraj has her share of detractors as well. These detractors have in the past tried to project Sushma as heading a dis-empowered ministry, implying that the effective head of Foreign Ministry was PM Narendra Modi. There have been reprehensible remarks on the relationship between PM Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj. And there have been concerted efforts to portray Sushma Swaraj, widely known to be upright and incorruptible as venal. There have also been uncalled for attacks on her family.
Political opponents such as Congress and others probably felt that given Sushma’s commitment to integrity, attacks on her and her family would induce a breakdown, perhaps to the point where she would want to pack up and leave. Others, who have not been able to stomach BJP victory in 2014, attack her with sleazy remarks perhaps because they are intimidated by the goodwill generated by Sushma Swaraj’s good work. Either way, Sushma Swaraj has been in Indian politics for far too long to get perturbed by what her detractors say. And so, she continues to do all that she can to extend aid and succour to Indians in need.
The other interesting side of Sushma Swaraj is her active online presence. In addition to strategizing and devising plans to airlift Indians stranded in places such as Yemen and South Sudan, Sushma Swaraj is widely acclaimed for her quick response to those who appeal to her on Twitter. There are countless incidents of Sushma Swaraj responding to tweets or re-directing them to concerned officials. Be it rescuing a girl kept in hostile conditions in South Africa, or helping a woman who lost her passport in Berlin, or even rescuing Pakistani citizens stuck in Yemen, Sushma Swaraj has used online platforms effectively in reducing the turnaround time to assist those in need.
And that’s not it. Sushma Swaraj, recently helped a Haryanvi man who had married a Kazakh woman to get her Visa extended, tweeting in Harynavi and offering her help. However, Sushma discovered that Twitter and Twitteratis tend to be a bit unpredictable. Perhaps knowing that she is active on Twitter, a man approached Sushma Swaraj, seeking her help in getting Samsung replace a defective refrigerator that they had sold to him. On this account, even Sushma Swaraj had to offer her apologies for not being able to help the man.
Sushma Swaraj’s aid, as is expected, cuts across the barriers of caste, creed, gender, religion or political affiliation. The case in point is a recent one where a man by the name of Faizan Patel, who has tweeted several disparaging tweets on Sushma Swaraj in the past, approached her for help on her wife’s visa. Reports suggest that his wife works for NDTV, which would perhaps explain the antipathy that Faizan Patel has for Sushma Swaraj.
Some of his past tweets are so deeply offensive that one would want him to be tried for outraging the modesty of a woman. Be that as it may, Faizan Patel had planned his honeymoon when he realized that his wife’s passport was missing. An ordinary person would probably either cancel the trip or re-schedule it for later. But Faizan wanted a honeymoon, with or without his wife and thus proceeded on the trip alone. On the flight, behaving like a baby in need of attention, he tweeted a pic, with him and the photo of his wife affixed on the adjacent seat.
For a man, who had used the most objectionable innuendos for Sushma Swaraj in the past, Faizan Patel shamelessly approached her for help. Technically speaking, this was no emergency. A missing passport should have been detected by the tourists before they began their honeymoon. If they didn’t realize this before, they could have cancelled their trip. They certainly need not have approached the External Affairs Minister, who has much bigger issues on her plate. On her part, Sushma Swaraj could have ignored this tweet. Or, she could have asked one of her junior officers to reach out to get more details. But Sushma Swaraj being Sushma Swaraj, chose to put her duty before everything else. Last heard, a duplicate passport was already on its way to his wife to help her join their honeymoon.
Sushma Swaraj could have easily ignored this low life, Faizan Patel. His tweets could easily have been ignored. But for a woman, who proudly says that she deserves no thanks for her work and it is her duty towards the country and her countrymen, duty comes first. Farzan Patel may be a nuisance, but to Sushma Swaraj, he is above all an Indian who has sought her help. It is this spirit that has enabled Sushma Swaraj to usher in an era of change and progress in the ministry. Kudos to you Madam! You are a role model to many!
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