Sushma Swaraj on Monday became India's first woman External Affairs minister, in yet another first for the 62-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.
Apart from having the distinction of becoming the youngest cabinet minister in Haryana government at the age of 25, Swaraj has also many other firsts such as being the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi and woman spokesperson for any political party in the country.
Swaraj has also been given the charge of Overseas Indian Affairs.
Swaraj is assuming the charge of the Foreign Ministry, one of the senior-most offices in the Union Cabinet, at a time when India's growing international influence gives it a prominent voice in global affairs even as issues in the region keep the largest democracy busy. Ties with Pakistan and China are some of the perennial challenges for Indian foreign policy practitioners.
Incidentally, the Ministry of External Affairs also has a woman Foreign Secretary, Sujatha Singh.
In 1977, at 25 years of age, Swaraj became the youngest-ever cabinet minister. She held the education portfolio in Haryana. In 1979, she became the state president of the BJP in Haryana. She was also the first woman spokesperson for any political party in India and won the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.
Swaraj, a law graduate who practised in the Supreme Court, has been elected seven times as a Member of Parliament (MP) and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).
She began her political career with RSS student wing ABVP in the 1970s. A member of the Haryana Assembly from 1977 to 1982 from Ambala Cantonment, she was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister in the Devi Lal government. She was Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting during the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government in 1996.
She resigned from the Cabinet in the next Vajpayee regime to take over as the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi in October 1998.