Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj died on Tuesday night, following a cardiac arrest in Delhi. She was 67-years old. Her demise has caused shock and grief across all quarters of the nation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other prominent personalities including legends from the film and music industry mourned her loss.
Elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as Member of the Legislative Assembly, Swaraj served as the Minister of External Affairs of India in the first term of Narendra Modi’s government. She was the second woman to hold that office after Indira Gandhi.
Sushma Swaraj also became the youngest Cabinet minister of Haryana in 1977 at the age of 25. The ace politician is most revered for her work as the External Affairs Minister, who not only performed her duties with respect to her portfolio but also individually helped out thousands of Indians stranded in foreign countries at times of crisis. She, in fact, brought a humane touch to the foreign ministry.
Her stint as the Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting with the additional charge of Telecommunications Ministry under the second term of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government is also a time where Swaraj’s contribution in changing the fabric of film industry, as we know of today, is hailed as significant.
Under her ministership, Sushma’s most notable decision came in the form of giving film production an “industry status”. This decision to declare film production as an industry made the Indian film industry eligible for bank financing, thereby removing dubious sources of money and offered a chance of loans with reduced interest rates.
According to an India Today report from 1998, around 25 per cent of films at that time were financed by moneylenders, who lent money at huge interest rates of 36-40 per cent per annum. Apart from that, 70 per cent films were produced by businessman, including builders, jewellers, traders and around 5 per cent from the underworld.
Veteran actor Shabana Azmi remembered that historical moment in her tweets of condolence for Sushma Swaraj.
She wrote, “Deeply saddened that Sushma Swaraj has passed away. In spite of political differences, we had an extremely cordial relationship. I was 1 of her Navratans as she called us during her I and B ministership and she gave industry status to film. Articulate sharp and accessible. RIP.”
The body of former Union Minister will be kept at the BJP headquarters for some time, after which last rites will be performed at the Lodhi crematorium Wednesday evening.
Deeply saddened that Sushma Swaraj has passed away.Inspite of political differences we had an extremely cordial relationship. I was 1 of her Navratans as she called us during her I and B ministership and she gave industry status to film. Articulate sharp and accessible. RIP
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) August 6, 2019