Sushma Swaraj: Remembering Social Media's Most 'Millennial' Indian Leader
After taking up the reins of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in 2014 in the Modi cabinet, Swaraj had used an open-access Twitter policy and had used the platform extensively to connect with voters.
File photo of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj. (Reuters)
Sushma Swaraj, ex-Union minister and senior BJP leader, was perhaps the most 'millennial' minister the Indian government has ever had. From being tagged the 'supermom' of India by Washington Post to becoming one of the most followed politicians on Twitter, the former External Affairs Minister had truly struck a chord with young and old alike with her round-the-clock social media presence, eagerness to help, and ready wit on social media.
Even when she had announced that she wouldn't fight Lok Sabha elections this year, Twitter was flooded with reaction. Here's a look at how her approach on social media won Twitterati's hearts.
The Humanitarian Side
Swaraj had defined what social scientists have started to refer to as 'digital diplomacy', i.e., the use of technological interventions to further diplomatic concerns for a state. To that effect, the long-term parliamentarian has successfully made her mark as the 'human face' of diplomacy through social media as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had once remarked.
After taking up the reins of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in 2014 in the Modi cabinet, Swaraj had used an open-access Twitter policy and had used the platform extensively to connect with voters, Indians living overseas and even persons from other nationalities, most famously, Pakistanis.
In 2017, Swaraj impressed fan and critics when she decided to grant a year-long medical visa to a Pakistani girl Shireen Shiraz for an open heart surgery. She helped out two more Pakistani nationals the same year by granting them medical visas for carrying out liver surgeries in India.
Not just Pakistanis. In 2015, she helped out a Yemeni woman who was married to an Indian. The woman had tweeted an image of her 8-month-old baby and made a plea for evacuation from the conflicted area. Her humanitarian aid had won her praise from political counterparts, both national and international.
In February 2015, she shot to international Twitter fame after she helped out 168 Indians trapped in Basra, Iran. She had been acting on the basis of a video shared with her on social media. In the same year, she helped out an Indian national who had lost her wallet passport and money in Berlin, Germany.
@BJPLucknowBJP I am happy to inform that 140 Indians have been brought back from Basra. Efforts on for 28. Thanks for video.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) February 19, 2015
@SushmaSwaraj Thank you! I can be reached at +32 491 75 82 96. I'm visiting the embassy tomorrow morning.— Agratha (@Agratha) May 4, 2015
In 2016, she helped out an Indian man to rescue his brother who had been stuck at Doha airport.
In 2018, Swaraj helped out a man who had been stuck in the USA without a passport and was due to return home for his wedding in a few days. According to those close to the minister, her proclivity to offer help on social media was not out of character for Swaraj. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup had once commented that Swaraj's exuberance and generosity on social media was just an extension of her real, emphatic and caring self.
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