The humane leader
The vibrant democracy of India is fortunate to have been blessed with some iconic female leaders who have left indelible marks in contemporary Indian politics, and to its grief, loses another leader of tremendous mettle. It came as a shock to the nation when former Minister for External Affairs and BJP stalwart Sushma Swaraj suddenly departed for her heavenly abode on Monday night. At 67, India lost her to cardiac arrest. Also a Supreme Court lawyer, she was the second woman to hold the office after Indira Gandhi. Ms. Sushma Swaraj is remembered for a number of reasons ranging over several areas of functioning where she dispensed her duty with exemplary grace and utmost efficiency. Not only was she inspiring as a lady leader, she was most endearing in her role as Union Minister for External Affairs when she took the reins in 2014 in the Modi Cabinet. Hailed as the most 'millennial' Indian leader of social media, her open-access twitter policy was a platform where she connected with common citizens most extensively. Numerous prominent figures from politics and other walks of life poured in their condolences and many mentioned why she was a stellar leader and will always be remembered. Omnipresent on social media, she was most approachable by the common man. Among all her political accolades and recognitions, the Washington Post even tagged her 'supermom'. She had an appeal with the young and old alike and when she announced that she would not contest this year's Lok Sabha election, it did not sit very well with the general public and social media was inundated with response and reactions to that announcement. A most prominent quality of her performance was the humanitarian approach which shone through in any crisis she reached out to address. With extensive technological intervention, digital diplomacy was her tool to further diplomatic concerns. Admired by both critics and fans, Ms. Swaraj was appreciated widely on both sides of the border when she granted a year-long medical visa to a Pakistani girl for an open heart surgery in 2017. Later that year, she granted two more Pakistani nationals medical visas for liver surgeries in India. A remarkable gesture indeed, given India's equation with Pakistan. And her humanitarian service in official capacity went further across borders. She is remembered for helping out a Yemeni woman married to an Indian in 2015. The woman had tweeted an image of her 8-month-old baby and made a plea for evacuation from the conflicted zone. Her humanitarian aid won her praise from political counterparts, both national and international. In February 2015, she helped out 168 Indians trapped in Basra, Iran. Her popularity on social media was built steadily and she will be remembered by all for her eagerness and relentlessness to help anyone who approached her. For Indian polity, of course, it is an irreplaceable loss.