Sushma Swaraj

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Sushma Swaraj
Secretary Tillerson is Greeted by Indian Minister of External Affairs Swaraj (24074726498) (cropped).jpg
Swaraj in 2017
29th Minister of External Affairs
In office
26 May 2014 – 30 May 2019
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded bySalman Khurshid
Succeeded bySubrahmanyam Jaishankar
Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs
In office
26 May 2014 – 7 January 2016
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded byVayalar Ravi
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
In office
21 December 2009 – 26 May 2014
Prime MinisterManmohan Singh
DeputyGopinath Munde
Preceded byL. K. Advani
Succeeded byVacant
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
In office
29 January 2003 – 22 May 2004
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byPramod Mahajan
Succeeded byGhulam Nabi Azad
Minister of Health and Family Welfare
In office
29 January 2003 – 22 May 2004
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byC. P. Thakur
Succeeded byAnbumani Ramadoss
Minister of Information and Broadcasting
In office
30 September 2000 – 29 January 2003
Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded byArun Jaitley
Succeeded byRavi Shankar Prasad
5th Chief Minister of Delhi
In office
13 October 1998 – 3 December 1998
Lieutenant GovernorVijai Kapoor
Preceded bySahib Singh Verma
Succeeded bySheila Dikshit
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
31 May 2009 – 24 May 2019
Preceded byRampal Singh
Succeeded byRamakant Bhargava
In office
7 May 1996 – 3 October 1999
Preceded byMadan Lal Khurana
Succeeded byVijay Kumar Malhotra
ConstituencySouth Delhi
Member of Legislative Assembly, Haryana
In office
Preceded byRam Dass Dhamija
Succeeded byAnil Vij
ConstituencyAmbala Cantonment
In office
Preceded byHans Raj Suri
Succeeded byRam Dass Dhamija
ConstituencyAmbala Cantonment
Personal details
Sushma Sharma

(1952-02-14)14 February 1952[1][2]
Ambala Cantonment, Punjab, India
(present-day Haryana)
Died6 August 2019(2019-08-06) (aged 67)
New Delhi, India
Cause of deathCardiac arrest
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
m. 1975)
ChildrenBansuri Swaraj
Alma materSanatan Dharma College (BA)
Panjab University (LLB)
ProfessionSenior advocate
AwardsPadma Vibhushan (2020; posthumously)

Sushma Swaraj (About this soundpronunciation ) (née Sharma; 14 February 1952 – 6 August 2019) was an Indian lawyer, politician, and diplomat who served as the Minister of External Affairs of India in the first Narendra Modi government from 2014 to 2019. She was the second person to complete a 5-year term as the Minister of External Affairs, after Jawaharlal Nehru. A senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Swaraj was the second woman to hold the office of Minister of External Affairs, after Indira Gandhi. She was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. At the age of 25 in 1977, she became the youngest cabinet minister of the Indian state of Haryana. She also served as 5th Chief Minister of Delhi for a short duration in 1998 and became the first female Chief Minister of Delhi.[3]

In the 2014 Indian general election, Swaraj won the Vidisha constituency in Madhya Pradesh for a second term, retaining her seat by a margin of over 400,000 votes.[4] She became the Minister of External Affairs in the union cabinet on 26 May 2014. Swaraj was called India's "best-loved politician" by the US daily Wall Street Journal.[5][6] She decided not to contest the 2019 Indian general election due to health reasons as she was recovering from a kidney transplant and needed to "save herself from dust and stay safe from infection" and hence did not join the second Modi Ministry in 2019.[7][8]

According to the doctors at AIIMS New Delhi, Swaraj succumbed to a cardiac arrest following a heart attack on the night of 6 August 2019. She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award, posthumously in 2020 in the field of Public Affairs.[9][10]

Early life and education[edit]

Sushma Swaraj (née Sharma)[11] was born on 14 February 1952 at Ambala Cantonment, Haryana,[1][12] into a Punjabi Hindu Brahmin family, to Hardev Sharma and Shrimati Laxmi Devi.[13][14][15] Her father was a prominent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member. Her parents hailed from the Dharampura area of Lahore, Pakistan.[16] She was educated at Sanatan Dharma College in Ambala Cantonment and earned a bachelor's degree with majors in Sanskrit and Political Science.[17] She studied law at Panjab University, Chandigarh.[18][17][19] A state-level competition held by the Language Department of Haryana saw her winning the best Hindi Speaker award for three consecutive years.[13] Sushma Swaraj was a strict vegetarian.[20]

Advocacy career[edit]

In 1973, Swaraj started practice as an advocate in the Supreme Court of India.[18][17] She began her political career with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in the 1970s. Her husband, Swaraj Kaushal, was closely associated with the socialist leader George Fernandes and Sushma Swaraj became a part of George Fernandes's legal defence team in 1975. She actively participated in Jayaprakash Narayan's Total Revolution Movement. After the Emergency, she joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Later, she became a national leader of the BJP.[21]

Political career[edit]

Early political career[edit]

She was a member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly from 1977 to 1982, winning the Ambala Cantonment assembly seat at the age of 25; and then, again from 1987 to 1990.[22] In July 1977, she was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister in the Janata Party Government headed by then Chief Minister Devi Lal. She held the Labour and Employment ministries from 1977 to 1979. Later she became Minister of Education, Food and Civil supplies during 1987 to 1990.[1] She became State President of the Janata Party (Haryana) in 1979, at the age of 27. She was Education Minister of Haryana state in the Bharatiya Janata PartyLok Dal coalition government from 1987 to 1990.[17]

In April 1990, she was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha and remained there until she was elected to the 11th Lok Sabha from South Delhi constituency in 1996. Swaraj was elected to the 11th Lok Sabha from the South Delhi constituency in the April 1996 elections.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting (1996)[edit]

She served as Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting during the 13-day government of PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1996.[23]

Chief Minister of Delhi (1998)[edit]

After a tenure in national level politics, she resigned from the Union Cabinet in October 1998 to take over as the fifth Chief Minister of Delhi.[24] She became the first female Chief Minister of Delhi.[24] Swaraj resigned from the position in December the same year.[25]

Minister of Information and Broadcasting (2000–2003)[edit]

She was re-elected to the 12th Lok Sabha from South Delhi Parliamentary constituency for a second term, in March 1998. Under the second PM Vajpayee Government, she was sworn in as Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting with an additional charge of the Ministry of Telecommunications from 19 March 1998 to 12 October 1998.[23] Her most notable decision during this period was to declare film production as an industry, which made the Indian film industry eligible for bank finance. She also started community radio at universities and other institutions.[26]

In September 1999, Swaraj was nominated by the BJP to contest against the Congress party's national President Sonia Gandhi in the 13th Lok Sabha election, from the Bellary constituency in Karnataka, which had always been retained by Congress politicians since the first Indian general election in 1951–52. During her campaign in Bellary, she addressed public meetings in the Kannada. She secured 358,000 votes in just 12 days of her election campaign. However, she lost the election by a 7% margin.[27][28]

She returned to Parliament in April 2000 as a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh. She was reallocated to Uttrakhand when the new state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000.[29] She was inducted into the Union Cabinet as Minister for Information and Broadcasting, a position she held from September 2000 until January 2003.[23]

Minister of Health & Family Welfare(2003–2004)[edit]

The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Smt. Sushma Swaraj addressing the Press on "Birds flu" in New Delhi on 29 January 2004

She was Minister of Health, Family Welfare and Parliamentary Affairs from January 2003 until May 2004, when the National Democratic Alliance Government lost the general election.[23]

As Union Health Minister, she set up six All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Bhopal (MP), Bhubaneshwar (Odisha), Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Patna (Bihar), Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and Rishikesh (Uttrakhand).[citation needed]

Swaraj was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha for a third term in April 2006 from Madhya Pradesh state. She served as the Deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha until April 2009.

Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha (2009–2014)[edit]

She won the 2009 election for the 15th Lok Sabha from the Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh by the highest margin of over 400,000 votes. Sushma Swaraj became Leader of Opposition in the 15th Lok Sabha in place of Lal Krishna Advani on 21 December 2009, and retained this position until May 2014 when, in the 2014 Indian general election, her party won a major victory.[30][31][32][33]

Minister of External Affairs (2014–2019)[edit]

Sushma Swaraj taking charge as the Union Minister for External Affairs, in New Delhi on 28 May 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry and Sushma Swaraj address reporters during news Conference following strategic dialogue
Sushma Swaraj addressing at 73rd United Nations General Assembly in 2018

Swaraj had served as the Indian Minister of External Affairs under Prime Minister Narendra Modi from May 2014 to May 2019. She was responsible for implementing the foreign policy of Narendra Modi. She was only the second woman to hold this position after Indira Gandhi.[34][35]

While being the Minister of External Affairs of the NDA government, Swaraj issued an NOC against a specific query raised by the UK government about the Indo-UK bilateral relationship if the UK granted permission to Lalit Modi, an Indian fugitive in a cricket scandal who had been staying in Britain since 2010, to attend his wife's surgery in Portugal. She conveyed to the British High Commissioner that they should examine Modi's request as per their rules and wrote "if the British government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi -– that will not spoil our bilateral relations".[36] However, some people mentioned this incident as Swaraj helping Lalit Modi in the travel visa process.[37][38][39]

On 12 August 2015, the leader of the Indian National Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge, moved an Adjournment Motion in the lower house seeking the resignation of Sushma Swaraj due to her alleged conduct in this regard. Initially, the motion was rejected by the Speaker, but it was accepted on Swaraj's insistence. Intervening in the motion, Swaraj clarified that Lalit Modi's right of residency was not cancelled, since the Enforcement Directorate did not file an extradition request. The Adjournment Motion was subsequently rejected with a voice vote. Sushma Swaraj was heavily criticised in 2014 when she urged Prime Minister Modi to declare the Bhagavad Gita as the national book of India.[40]

As External Affairs Minister, she played a pivotal role in bringing back the then 23-year-old hearing and speech-impaired Indian girl named Gita who was stranded in Pakistan for 15 years.[41]

In December 2015, the Norwegian government took custody of an Indian origin child from his parents citing child abuse. Swaraj, the then External Affairs Minister stepped in after the mother of the child formally requested help from Indian government.[42]

Swaraj with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Distinctions and records[edit]

In 1977, she became the youngest ever Cabinet Minister in the Government of Haryana at 25 years of age.[43] In 1979, she became State President of Janata Party, Haryana State at the young age of 27. Sushma Swaraj was the first female Spokesperson of a national political party in India. She has many firsts to her credit as BJP's first female Chief Minister, Union Cabinet Minister, general secretary, Spokesperson, Leader of Opposition and Minister of External Affairs.[citation needed]She was the second female chief minister after Tamil Nadu's V. N. Janaki who did not the member of the legislature. She is the Indian Parliament's first and the only female MP honoured with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award. She has contested 11 direct elections from four states. She has served as the President of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in Haryana for four years.[13]

In February 2016, during the International Roma Conference, then Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj stated that the people of the Roma community were children of India. The conference ended with a recommendation to the government of India to recognize the Roma community spread across 30 countries as a part of the Indian diaspora.

On 19 February 2019 Swaraj accepted the prestigious Grand Cross of Order of Civil Merit, which was conferred by the Spanish government in recognition of India's support in evacuating its citizens from Nepal during the earthquake in 2015.[44]

Personal life[edit]

During the times of the Emergency, on 13 July 1975, Sushma Sharma married Swaraj Kaushal, a peer and fellow advocate at the Supreme Court of India. The Emergency movement brought together the couple, who then teamed up for the defence of the socialist leader George Fernandes.[45][46] Swaraj Kaushal, a senior advocate of Supreme Court of India and a criminal lawyer, also served as Governor of Mizoram from 1990 to 1993. He was a member of parliament from 1998 to 2004.[47]

The couple have a daughter, Bansuri, who is a graduate from Oxford University and a Barrister at Law from Inner Temple.[48][49]

Sushma Swaraj's sister Vandana Sharma is an associate professor of political science in a government college for girls in Haryana.[50] Her brother Dr. Gulshan Sharma is an Ayurveda doctor based in Ambala.[51]

On 10 December 2016 she underwent a kidney transplant at AIIMS, Delhi with the organ being harvested from a living unrelated donor. The surgery was reported to be successful.[52]


On 6 August 2019, Sushma Swaraj reportedly suffered a heart attack in the evening after which she was rushed to AIIMS New Delhi, where she later died of a cardiac arrest.[53][54][55] She was cremated the next day with full state honours at the Lodhi crematorium in Delhi.[56]

Positions held[edit]

  • 1977–82 Elected as Member, Haryana Legislative Assembly.[17]
  • 1977–79 Cabinet Minister, Labour and Employment, Government of Haryana.[17]
  • 1987–90 Elected as Member, Haryana Legislative Assembly.[17]
  • 1987–90 Cabinet Minister, Education, Food and Civil Supplies, Government of Haryana.[17]
  • 1991–1996 Member of Rajya Sabha
  • 1996 [16 May – 1 June] – Union Cabinet Minister, Information and Broadcasting.[17]
  • 1998-98 [12 October 1998 – 3 December 1998] – Chief Minister of Delhi.[17]
  • 2000–06 Member, Rajya Sabha (4th term).[14]
  • 2006–09 [April 2006 -] Member, Rajya Sabha (5th term).[57]
  • 2009–14 [16 May 2009 – 18 May 2014] Member, 15th Lok Sabha (6th term).[17]
  • 2009-09 [3 June 2009 – 21 December 2009] Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.[17]
  • 2009–2014 [21 December 2009 – 26 May 2014] Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • 2014–2019 [26 May 2014 – 24 May 2019] Member, 16th Lok Sabha (7th term).[17]
  • 2014–2019 [26 May 2014 – 29 May 2019] Minister of External Affairs in the Union of India.[17]

Awards and honours[edit]

State honours[edit]

S.No Country Award Name Year Ref
1  India Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) 2020 [58]
2  Spain Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit 19 February 2019 [44]

Places named after her[edit]

See also[edit]


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  2. Roche, Elizabeth (7 August 2019). "Remembering Sushma Swaraj: First female foreign minister to Twitter's favorite". Livemint. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  3. "At a glance: Sushma Swaraj, from India's 'youngest minister' to 'aspiring PM'". India TV. 15 June 2013. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
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  5. Varadarajan, Tunku (24 July 2017). "India's Best-Loved Politician". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 26 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  6. "Sushma Swaraj is 'India's Best-Loved Politician', opines US magazine Wall Street Journal". Zee News. 25 July 2017. Archived from the original on 25 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  7. "Why Sushma Swaraj won't contest 2019 general elections". The Times of India. 1 December 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  8. "Sushma Swaraj writes emotional tweet to PM Modi, says she is grateful". India Today. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  9. "MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS" (PDF). Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  10. "Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, George Fernandes given Padma Vibhushan posthumously. Here's full list of Padma award recipients". The Economic Times. 26 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  11. "Sushma Swaraj". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  12. "The push for a Swaraj party". Tehelka. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
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  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 17.12 17.13 "Detailed Profile – Smt. Sushma Swaraj – Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) – Who's Who – Government: National Portal of India". Archived from the original on 27 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
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  27. "Result Of Bellary (Karnataka) in 1999". CNN IBN. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
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  39. "Sushma Swaraj helped expedite Lalit Modi's UK visa process!". 14 June 2015. Archived from the original on 17 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  40. "No offence to Bhagvad Gita, but we already have a national testament". 11 December 2014. Archived from the original on 30 April 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  41. "India working to bring back Gita from Pakistan, locate her family: Sushma Swaraj". 8 August 2015.
  42. Sharma, Smita (25 December 2016). "Norway child case: Aryan's Indian mother formally seeks help from Sushma Swaraj". India Today. Retrieved 12 June 2023.
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  44. 44.0 44.1 "Swaraj accepts Spain's top civic award during visit". Business Standard. ANI. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2023.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  45. "ushma Swaraj birthday special: Top 8 interesting facts about the External Affairs Minister of India". 14 February 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  46. "Awww: Sushma Swaraj's pic with her husband outside Parliament is too adorable!". Daily News and Analysis. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
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  50. "Poultry businessman stuns Sushma Swaraj's sister in Safidon". The Times of India. 19 October 2014. Archived from the original on 23 February 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  51. "Sushma vows to double women cops in Haryana". The Times of India. 6 October 2014. Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  52. "Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj Undergoes Kidney Transplant at AIIMS Hospital in Delhi". Archived from the original on 10 December 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  53. "Sushma Swaraj, Former Foreign Minister and BJP Stalwart, Passes Away at 67 from cardiac arrest.| LIVE". News18. 6 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
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  57. Detailed Profile – – Members of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) – Who's Who – Government: National Portal of India. Retrieved 30 July 2011. Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  58. "Sushma Swaraj, George Fernandes and Arun Jaitely honoured with Padma Vibhushan". The Hindu. PTI. 8 November 2021. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  59. "Government renames two prominent institutes after Sushma Swaraj". The Hindu. PTI. 13 February 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  60. "Govt names Foreign Service Institute, Pravasi Kendra after Sushma Swaraj". Hindustan Times. 13 February 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  61. "Ambala city bus stand renamed after late Sushma Swaraj". The Hindu. PTI. 15 February 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 July 2023.

External links[edit]

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