New Delhi: India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is one of the 19 women in contention for Women of the Year title, an yearly recognition by business publication Financial Times of women’s contribution to mainly politics, business, sports, performing arts and society.
The honour for 64-year old Swaraj comes shortly after her party mate and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the Reader poll for Time Person of the Year.
Swaraj has been dubbed as “national agony aunt” by the London based pink paper, which highlighted how she frequently goes out of her way to help Indians in need of help in foreign countries.
“Swaraj has answered pleas for help from overseas Indians caught in armed conflict, confronting legal or medical problems or left jobless and stranded,” FT praised her in the article announcing the shortlist.
The political veteran is arguably the top woman leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and is immensely popular among Indians. Swaraj has 6.7 million followers on Twitter, a social networking site she often uses to conduct her business including instructing diplomats and other officials in her ministry.
Swaraj is known to heed to concerns of Indians in need of help abroad. The man replied to by her in the tweet below had requested his visa application to be fast-tracked, citing a medical emergency.
She has also been commended for her efforts to try help thousands of Indian workers in the Middle-East, many of whom reportedly work in tough conditions and are often barred from leaving before fulfilling their employment contracts.
At present, Swaraj remains bed-ridden in hospital as she waits on her kidney transplant. After news that she would require a new kidney broke out, there was an outpouring of support for the foreign minister, with many Indians volunteering to be the donor.
The Top Women list also features UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May, defeated US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, singer Beyonce and African-American and 2016 gold-medal winning gymnast Simone Biles, among other prominent women.