Sushma Swaraj

MIN­IS­TER FOR EX­TER­NAL AF­FAIRS

India Today - - 30 YEARS OF MODI GOVERNMENT | EXTERNAL AFFAIRS - —Ananth Kr­ish­nan

THE PAST YEAR HAS been a test­ing one for Swaraj’s min­istry. The Modi gov­ern­ment’s third year of­fered a re­al­ity check to the giddy start, where even re­la­tions with Pak­istan and China seemed to hold lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties. That said, Swaraj, like her pre­de­ces­sors, hasn’t had a prom­i­nent role to play in craft­ing for­eign pol­icy as PM Modi, like his pre­de­ces­sors, di­rectly calls the shots on for­eign pol­icy, draw­ing on the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Ajit Do­val, as well as For­eign Sec­re­tary S. Jais­hankar. Yet Swaraj hasn’t been con­tent to merely sit on the side­lines. She has carved a unique pub­lic di­plo­macy role for her­self and bur­nished her rep­u­ta­tion as a cit­i­zens’ min­is­ter. From com­ing to the aid of tens of thou­sands of In­dian work­ers laid off in Saudi Ara­bia to sav­ing a cou­ple’s hon­ey­moon to Europe at the last minute, no cry for help from the In­dian cit­i­zen has been seen as too small for the ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter. She has also made a mark on the world stage, giv­ing a stir­ring speech in Septem­ber at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly that summed up Pak­istan’s mis­de­meanours. Point­ing out that Modi had twice of­fered the hand of friend­ship to Nawaz Sharif, Swaraj asked, “What did we get in re­turn? Pathankot, Ba­hadur Ali and Uri.”

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