Maybe a little harsh on a whole lot of achieving men, but Sushma Swaraj, the woman has done a lot like the quote states. Ask all those who have come in contact with her or received her personal attention after her becoming the External Affairs Minister in the Modi Govt., and you shall know why.
Small in stature, tall by achievement is the much liked, admired and respected Minister of External Affairs – Sushma Swaraj. No stranger to success, her achievements are long and worthy of mention. From being a student leader with good oratory skills to being a lawyer in the Supreme Court, the youngest education minister in the Harayana assembly to being second only to Smt. Indira Gandhi as a woman External Affairs Minister, from being a Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Spokesperson of the BJP to becoming one of the leading figures in the current NDA Govt. of 2014-19; that is the lady for you.
Tracing the life of this interesting woman with sterling qualities that have endeared her to millions of Indians at home and abroad, we present the Sushma Swaraj saga.
Sushma Swaraj – a woman of substance
- Sushma Sharma (now Swaraj) was born on 14 February 1952 at Ambala cantonment to Shri Hardev Sharma and Shrimati Laxmi Devi. Her father was an eminent member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
A tiny tot Sushma at 2 years with her brother
- Today Swaraj’s brother Dr. Gulshan Sharma is an Ayurveda doctor based in Ambala andSushma Swaraj’s sister Vandana Sharma is an associate professor of political science in a government college for girls in Haryana.
She had never been restricted to the curricular
Sushma Swaraj was declared the best cadet of N.C.C. of the S. D. College for three consecutive years.
Sushma Swaraj’s formal education
- She completed her graduation in B.A with Political Science and Sanskrit as major subjects from the Sanatan Dharma Collegeof Ambala Cantonment.
- In 1970 she received the Best Student award from S.D. College, Ambala Cantonment.She achieved degrees with majors in Sanskrit and Political Science. And did a degree course in LL.B. from the Department of Laws of the Punjab University at Chandigarh.
Her extra-curricular achievements
Sushma Swaraj was an excellent student. But she excelled in extra-curricular activities as well.
- A state-level competition held by the Language Department of Haryana saw her winning the best Hindi Speaker award for three consecutive years.
- She also became the best speaker in Hindi of Punjab University in the A. C. Bali Memorial elocution contest and there, she was awarded the university colour.
- She won several awards of distinction in rhetoric contests, debates, recitations, dramas and other cultural activities.
- She went on to become President of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan of the State of Haryana for four years.
Her interests include classical music, poetry, fine arts, drama and literature.
A start of a promising political career
The firebrand Sushma Swaraj as a student leader
- She started her political career in the 1970s as a student leader in the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, chosen for her great skills in public speaking and leadership qualities, that were recognized early.
- Having studied Law she started her practice as an advocate of the Supreme Court in 1973.
- Later it also gave her an opportunity to be part of the legal defence team of prominent socialist leader George Fernandes since her husband Swaraj Kaushal was close to him.
The soft dreamy eyed look of a young Sushma Swaraj before marriage
The young newly wedded couple – Sushma with hubby Swaraj
- During the times of Emergency, on July 13, 1973, Sushma Swaraj married Swaraj Kaushal, a peer and fellow advocate at the Supreme Court of India. The Emergency movement brought together the couple, who then teamed up for the defense of the socialist leader George Fernandes.
- Swaraj Kaushal is now a senior advocate of Supreme Court of India and a criminal lawyer who served as Governor of Mizoram from 1990 to 1993. He was a member of parliament from 1998 to 2004.
- They have a daughter, Bansuri, who is a graduate from Oxford University and a Barrister at Law from Inner Temple.
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court or professional associations for barristers and judges in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns.
Sushma Swaraj with family
Despite the travails that come our way, we remain happy together !
The doting mother of an adorable daughter – Daughter Bansuri Kaushal with Sushma
A cosy family pic. – the Kaushals with daughter Bansuri
The perfect image of a traditional Hindu Bahu – Sushma Swaraj
Her achievements in public life so far
- She was part of socialist Gandhian J.P.Narayan’s Total Revolution Movement in the late 70s that turned into an All India Movement against the then ruling Indira Gandhi Govt.
- After the 1975 Emergency she joined the BJP and rose within the party to become one of its foremost leaders and spokespersons.
- Today she stands tall as a much liked BJP minister heading the External Affairs Ministry since May 26th, 2014 and has earned the respect and confidence of the Prime Minister himself to be in that position till date despite re-shuffles that have seen others come and go.
Some of her crowning glories on the way
- Second woman after the Late PM Smt. Indira Gandhi to be handling the External Affairs Ministry.
- At 25 in 1977 became the youngest Chief Minister of Haryana, and served as 5th Chief Minister of Delhi for close to 3 months.
- She has been elected 7 times as MP, 3 times as MLA.Became State President of Janata Party (Haryana) at 27. She was education minister in the BJP-Lok Dal coalition govt. for 3 years between 1987 & 1990.
- In the second Vajpayee govt. she was I & B minister with additional charge over Telecommunications. One of her major decisions was declaring the Hindi film industry an ’industry’. Automatically this allowed the film industry to avail bank finance which till then was being financed by the underworld that was dictating terms heavily. She also started the community radio in universities.
- When she was Health Minister from 2003 to 2004, she set up 6 AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) apart from the existing one at New Delhi.
- When NDA lost the elections in 2006, she got elected to the Rajya Sabha and was Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Again in 2009 when the NDA lost the elections, she became leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2009 to 2014.
The External Affairs tenure till date
Lawyer by profession and a seasoned parliamentarian with many first-time happenings attributed to her name, she is often considered to be among the best spoken of Indian politicians and known widely for her diplomatic skills. She served as the Leader of the Opposition in the 15th Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014 and by virtue of her designation she had the opportunity to meet a galaxy of world leaders visiting India apart from her official foreign trips. This significantly improved her understanding of world affairs and helped her develop a personal rapport with many important dignitaries.
Fast Track Diplomacy – The first 100 days of the Modi Govt. saw a booklet called “Fast Track Diplomacy” from the External Affairs Ministry, show-casing the achievement made in the foreign policy arena.
In her first media interaction, Sushma Swaraj talking about “fast-track diplomacy” said it had three faces – proactive, strong and sensitive. Since taking office, she held round-table meetings with all Indian heads of missions to the SAARC region, ASEAN region and Middle East separately as a follow up measure to carry forward the leads gained by high-profile visits and exchanges.
Act East Policy – From the very beginning, the NDA Government made it amply clear that India would focus more and more on improving relations with ASEAN and other East Asian countries as per India’s Look East policy which was formulated during Narasimha Rao’s Government in 1992 for better economic engagement with its eastern neighbours. Successive Governments successfully turned it into a tool for forging strategic partnership and security cooperation with countries in that region in general and Vietnam and Japan in particular. Sushma stressed on a re-look into the old policy, emphasizing a more proactive role for India in this region.
After taking over in May 2014, if there is a person who has travelled overseas almost as far and wide as PM Modi it is Sushma Swaraj.
The Personal Touch that Sushma Swaraj is famous for
Swaraj has been called India’s ‘best-loved politician’ by the US daily Wall Street Journal and not without reason.
She is by nature exuberant and forthcoming but very focused. What is endearing about her is the ability to connect with people in a manner that makes them comfortable enough to pour out their woes fully understanding that here is a soul who would within the bounds of protocol not leave any stone unturned to achieve a desired result. That is why she has earned the admiration of millions in India and across the world for her humanitarian gestures in using the ministry through the goodwill created by the PM in his numerous visits overseas, as well as her own rapport from years of interaction to get things done.
Her Twitter handle responds to each and every Tweet and mind you, the number is definitely not small.
“Love Your Jacket” – Sushma’s twitter response to a girl dressed like her in a fancy dress competition on India’s 70th Independence Day someplace.
When India was celebrating 70th Independence Day, several school students got dressed up as Sushma Swaraj and a little girl was fortunate enough to receive a heartwarming response from our union minister.
Rajesh Sharma, a twitterati, posted a photo of his daughter Riya, wearing Sushma Swaraj’s trademark half jacket over a saree. The girl looked identical to Sushma Swaraj as she also carried a BJP’s stole on her shoulder and maroon bindi on her fore head. Sharma posted the picture with a caption, “@SushmaSwaraj my daughter #Fancydress competition # nationalleader # SUSHMA SWARAJ.”
Sushma Swaraj tweeted back – “Love your Jacket”.
Wow! What a response! The Father was pleased, the nation went into a tizzy.
- Sushma Swaraj has become one of the most important leaders on social media, with her quick, witty response and her willingness to help people in distress. In 2016 Sushma Swaraj helped a man unite with his wife after the latter misplaced her passport right before her honeymoon. How she did is another big story.
The deaf and mute girl Sushma Swaraj helped return from Pakistan to India in 2017 after being stranded for a decade, and also to tried to find her parents.
The Ever Helping Hand
- In 2016, an Indian woman in distress and her daughter, living in a refugee camp in Germany, were sent back to India, after she appealed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for help. She had been forced to live there by her in-laws.
- In 2016 India’s foreign minister has saved thousands of stranded Indian workers in Saudi Arabia.
- Working late into the night at home, Swaraj tweets back, calling them “my child” and assuring them that help is on the way — whether they are trapped in conflict zones, experiencing visa problems or need to replace lost passports.
- Her “personal interventions on social media are really an extension of her personality — empathetic and caring to those in distress, wherever they may be,” said Vikas Swarup, the Foreign Ministry spokesman.
- When a person tweeted an image of laid-off Indian workers who had not eaten for three days, Swaraj responded: “I assure you that no Indian workers rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on hourly basis.” She got eight days of food delivered to the workers and sent officials from her ministry to Saudi Arabia to negotiate with the government to help the workers get the pay they were owed.
With rescued Indian charity worker Judith D’Souza who was kidnapped in Kabul
These are just examples of her numerous responses to people who tweet her or seek help from her through any other means. And mind you, she considers every tweet important. Her gesture is extremely humane, despite some smart-alecs terming it as what is expected of the external affairs ministry.
On the lighter side – her likes and dislikes
- A strong believer of astrology and gemology, she color codes her saree and some say even her diet, as per planetary alignment and the positions of stars.
- She is partial to Vedkegolgappe, Kalkawaleki kachori, overdone peanuts and Aloo Paranthas dripping with homemade butter over tea whenever she visits Ambala, her hometown.
A beautiful taste in sarees and drapes well
We provide you a series of images of the politician’s nice sense of dressing, her taste in sarees that leans very much towards handlooms and of course the variety she displays.
The perfect setting, an elegant attire in the Pure Chanderi Handloom Silk Saree , it is very much appealing for the soft expansive color sparsely filled but exquisitely decorated with a designer motif that is brilliantly complemented with a golden zari border and a thin eye-catching red lining. The patent jacket in brilliant red is in very good taste.
The lovely silks of Southern Handlooms have a universal appeal for the smooth texture and soft hues. Here Sushma Swaraj sports a neat designer printed silk saree that appeals for the vibrant orange backdrop and the matching red honeycomb like design on it. Simple but extremely elegant! The Blue one is plain, unadorned but the silky shine of the weave and the neat zari lining borders elevate the allure. The self colored tassels help as tasteful decorative ends.
See Sushmaji below in the beautiful violet attachment border on pastel green Chettinad Handloom Cotton Saree with the lovely grayish blue jacket and a sparkling demeanour to match.
One more of the delightful soft handloom silk printed sarees with the elegant criss-cross pattern and the sensational multicolor pain borders that work towards accentuating the design.
Just see this wonderful burnt orange and deep blue in lustrous Sambalpuri silk saree. The shining silver zari border accentuates the allure further. As usual Sushma Swaraj always presents herself elegantly and here it’s with a good deep blue colored Jacket (her patent outfit) over the saree.
It’s an important meeting with her Chinese counterpart and Sushma Swaraj looking perfectly comfortable in the Gadwal Handloom Silk Saree, plain body and exquisite zari lining border The light dark combination and the choice of colors works wonderfully for the ambience.
One more plain deep green silk fabric adorned with beautiful embroidered borders and a jacket whose color is tastefully matches her attire. Sushma Swaraj seems to have a deep understanding of colors. She dresses well, carries herself well and of course conveys whatever she has to say well.
Why does the foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj always wear a jacket over her saree?
An explanation offered by one of the senior members in a govt. dept. is:
1 Jacket over any dress gives a formal look
2 Jacket has pockets wherein one can keep pen, mobile etc instead of keeping in hands all the time.
3 Sometimes, it could also be safety jacket
4 One does not need to take care of paloo adjustments time to time
5 It’s gracious and comfortable.
Even during journey and outdoor field activities, it’s very practical.
Sushma Swaraj not only has proved her mettle as a responsible External Affairs Minister, whose interaction at all levels of protocol, whether addressing the UN General Assembly, having talks with her foreign counterparts, addressing the media or merely giving instructions to those under her in the ministry, have been of a high order. She has always been held with high regard for her commitment and clarity. And for the common people she is that sisterly or motherly figure whose genuine concern and rendering of help is like God’s Manna from Heaven.
Enjoy the Pativrata Patni or Devoted wife look of Sushma Swaraj on Karwa Chauth Day
May she stay the way she is Ever, is what India wishes. Because like a lot many people, we find She’s Different.