RIP Sushma Swaraj..!

By Robert Clements. Dated: 8/9/2019 12:47:44 AM

It's been just over three years ago, I heard that my closest friend, a novelist, dramatist, and also a newspaper columnist, the great grandson of India's most famous painter had been kidnapped in an African country! His wife got in touch with me, and between her, his sons and myself, we got in touch with the Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, and I started talking directly to the Indian diplomats in that country.
We were scared, petrified, because that country was quite unforgiving towards those who fell prey to kidnapping.
Many years before, I had gone with a team to the Philippines and had competed with members from other countries for an award. Every evening the teams from the other countries would be wined and dined by their country's ambassadors or other diplomats but our Indian team was neither called for dinner or tea, nor did a single representative from the consulate come to see our event.
They couldn't be bothered.
I thought the same would happen as I spoke to the first secretary and his assistant in Senegal, the African country. That they would turn a deaf ear to my entreaties for help, but I was in for a surprise. After the second call, the second secretary himself got involved in the rescue mission. He drove hundreds of kilometres in search of my missing friend. Meanwhile my friend's sons had got in touch with Ms Swaraj. She did not spare a moment. Full pressure was put on that country's head, and troops and police over there were instructed to start a nation-wide search.
I flew down to be with my friend's family, who though devastated were hoping their father and husband would be found alive. There were innumerous stories of kidnapped victims being finally killed and bodies thrown out when the pressure mounted, but here there was such precision in the search, that the kidnappers finally put my friend in a cab and set him free after six days of captivity.
"I'm free!" he spoke to his family and me as we sat in his home tears rolling down our faces.
If ever I've known sheer joy it was when I heard the news, and my grateful thanks went to the foreign ministry headed by Ms Swaraj.
Quietly, silently, she had built this ministry. Not for her, loud rhetoric, though she was known for her firebrand oratory. Not for her, publicity. She worked silently and like the Times of India said today, "Sushma Swaraj, who took diplomacy to the people, dies!'
Yes, she is dead, but she changed the external affairs minister's post into one where the external affairs of every Indian became her responsibility.
Rest in Peace Ms Swaraj. Because of you I still have my friend, alive and well, so also many others you rescued and many of our countrymen you worked tirelessly and relentlessly for..!
bobsbanter@gmail.com

 

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