Houston: The Indian diaspora condoled the demise of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and remembered her as a "caring" and "remarkable" leader.
Swaraj passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on Tuesday night after suffering a cardiac arrest. The senior BJP leader was 67.
One of the most prolific politicians of India, who brought a rare empathy and a human approach to the nation's diplomacy, Swaraj's sudden demise triggered a wave of shock and grief among Indians living in Houston, who remembered her as a charismatic and dynamic leader, and a woman of grit.
"She will be remembered for her leadership in opening up the external affairs ministry and consulates across the globe to any Indian who needed help," the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston's founding secretary Jagdip Ahluwalia said.
"I first met her when she was health minister. She attended a rotary immunisation event in Delhi and I found her very approachable," he said, adding that she will be always remembered for being a "charismatic and caring minister".
Recalling Swaraj's efforts to get relief for 200 Indian students who were stranded at the University of Houston in floods triggered by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, he said it was commendable how involved she got to rescue them with the help of the Consulate General of India, Houston.
Swaraj, as external affairs minister, brought a sense of assertiveness in India's diplomacy and was known for her prompt response on Twitter to address grievances of overseas Indians.
Padma Shri recipient Subhash Kak, a Regents Professor Emeritus at the Oklahoma State University, said, "I am greatly saddened by Sushma Swaraj's untimely passing. A lady of great grace and ability, she had served for five years as an outstanding external affairs minister."
It was generally acknowledged that she would have continued to play an important active or advisory role in Indian politics for years to come.The prayers of the entire diaspora are with her, Kak said.
Celebrity Michelin Star chef Vikas Khanna tweeted, “Thank you for letting me cook for you on your every trip to NY. And always blessing me by saying “Conquer the World my Son". You were the spirit of Mother India. #RIP."
“With the passing of Sushma ji, India has lost one of her greatest leaders who was able and capable to build bridges with the outside world. She was a globally recognized champion of human rights and expert in diplomacy," president of the Sewa Houston Chapter Gitesh Desai said.
Watch: RIP Sushma Swaraj: Fiery Opposition leader, transformative foreign minister
Her demise is an incalculable loss to India, her friends all around the globe and to diplomacy. She will be always revered and remembered for her inspirational eloquence in oratory, the winner of the 2019 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award said.
Swapan Dhairyawan, president, IACCGH, said, “India lost a dynamic, prolific and a vociferous leader in Sushma ji. She represented the best of India and in global diplomatic circle she was an astute person."