Sushma Swaraj’s Twitter activism

Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s response and governance initiatives on Twitter is helping both Indians as well as foreigners


Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj threatened to rescind visas of Amazon’s employees if they did not stop selling doormats resembling the Indian tri-colour flag from its Canadian website.
Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj threatened to rescind visas of Amazon’s employees if they did not stop selling doormats resembling the Indian tri-colour flag from its Canadian website.

New Delhi: Amazon.com has removed doormats resembling the Indian tri-colour flag from its Canadian website on Wednesday after Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj threatened to rescind visas of the US e-commerce giant’s employees if they did not stop selling the product.

In a series of tweets, Sushma had directed Indian high commission officials to take up the matter with Amazon’s Canadian portal.

“Amazon must tender an unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately. If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier.”

But this is not the first time Sushma has intervened on an issue, in the past also her activism on Twitter @SushmaSwaraj has taken the concept of responsive government to new heights.

Just a few days back, she announced that she will “personally monitor” Indian embassies’ responses to requests for help and literally responding on the micro-blogging site since 8 January. In fact, it is to her personal credit that addressing the legitimate problems of Indian citizens at home and abroad has now become a major responsibility of all Indian diplomatic missions and foreign ministry.

Sushma’s efforts to have earned her the monikers such as “the Supermom of the State”, “the Twitter queen”, “the common tweeple’s leader”. Not only that, the Foreign Policy magazine has included her in the list “for fashioning a novel brand of Twitter diplomacy” and her inclusion in the list of 100 Global Thinkers.

Here is a list of some of the major events when Sushma personally intervened via Twitter in recent months:

■ Swaraj on 9 January asked the Indian mission to ensure that sailors stuck in merchant ships in the United Arab Emirates do not suffer shortage of essential supplies.

■ Sushma responds to a news report on 8 January that around 500 youths from Telangana state are stranded in Iraq. Most of them are illegal immigrants who went there in search of jobs. A few Gulf agents cheated the gullible youths on the pretext of providing suitable jobs in Iraq.

■ She directs embassy officials to help stranded Indians in Istanbul as multiple flights were cancelled due to heavy snow on 8-9 January.

■ Sushma pulled up a man for requesting his wife’s transfer from the Jhansi Railways to his hometown on 8 January. In a series of tweets, Swaraj slammed the Pune-based @smitraj07 (the man’s Twitter handle) for requesting an official transfer on a social media site. Swaraj told the man that if he or his wife were in her ministry, they would have been fired by now.

■ On 8 March 2016 at around 3.40am, Swaraj tweets that Sister Sally, the Indian mother superior of an aid home in Aden, where four nuns were killed and an Indian priest was kidnapped by gunmen, has been evacuated from Yemen.

■ Sushma said over 10,000 Indians in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were facing a “food crisis” because of economic hardships in early August 2016. “Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages (and) closed down their factories,” she had tweeted. Later, minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh visited Saudi Arabia to get the workers back.

More From Livemint