The death of India’s former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj Aug. 6, has been a shock to Indians both at home and abroad. Beloved as she had become for her personal touch and political experience as well as understated but effective leadership, Swaraj is being mourned and celebrated with high praise.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a series of tweets, expressed his sadness.
“Sushma Ji’s demise is a personal loss. She will be remembered fondly for everything that she’s done for India. My thoughts are with her family, supporters and admirers in this very unfortunate hour. Om Shanti,” Modi tweeted. “I can’t forget the manner in which Sushma Ji worked tirelessly as EAM in the last 5 years. Even when her health was not good, she would do everything possible to do justice to her work and remain up to date with matters of her Ministry. The spirit and commitment was unparalleled,” Modi added.
The Prime Minister called her an “excellent administrator” and one of played a “key role” in bettering India’s ties with various nations. He noted her “compassionate side” helping fellow Indians in any part of the world. Modi also praised her as a “prolific orator and outstanding Parliamentarian,” who was admired across party lines. But, he emphasized, “She was uncompromising when it came to matters of ideology and interests of the BJP, whose growth she immensely contributed to.”
Modi’s last comment is substantiated with Swaraj’s last tweet before her death which referred to the revocation of Article 370, the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. ”
The President of India Ram Nath Kovind said the country had lost a “much loved leader who epitomised dignity, courage & integrity in public life.”
India’s current External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, also expressed deep shock and hearing the news. “Difficult to accept this news. The whole nation grieves, the Foreign Minister even more so,” he tweeted.
Swaraj was beloved among indians living abroad in particular as she made sure to use social media to reach out effectively even in individual cases, to assist those who may be facing problems.
The Hindu newspaper listed at least five firsts that Swaraj achieved during her lifetime — She was the first woman to be appointed spokesperson from a national party; the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi; the first woman to be chief minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party; the first woman to become leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha; and the first woman to be a full-time external affairs minister of the country.
Indians living in the United States were particularly lucky to have met her several times over the years. Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, spoke about the numerous times Indian-Americans met Swaraj both in New York and New Delhi, and discussed matters with her.
“She was very eloquent, very classy, very knowledgeable leader of India, of the BJP, and even made her mark in global diplomacy,” Parikh told Desi Talk. “We followed her as an Opposition leader in Parliament before the BJP came to power, and she was so knowledgeable on any topic.”
“Most recently, i met her last year in New York City. We had extensive discussions on Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Non-resident Indians, and how they could participate in networking,” Parikh said.
“”She was also a very caring person and reached out in any crisis to Indians living abroad. She had their back, whether it was in the Caribbean or in the Middle East. NRIs will miss her greatly,” Parikh said.
Also view following video posted on Twitter by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN – Syed Akbaruddin – Syed Akbaruddin (@AkbaruddinIndia) tweeted at 9:46 PM on Tue, Aug 06, 2019:
Leaving behind indelible memories.
We @IndiaUNNewYork will always cherish memories of her @UN
Farewell Madam @SushmaSwaraj #RIPSushmaSwaraj https://t.co/yEGz9KWhsc