Day after taking charge of the Ministry of External Affairs, S Jaishankar made his Twitter debut today and his very first tweet was dedicated to his ex-boss Sushma Swaraj. “My first tweet. Thank you all for the best wishes! Honoured to be given this responsibility. Proud to follow on the footsteps of @SushmaSwaraj ji (sic),” Jaishankar posted on Twitter. Within hours of his Twitter debut, Jaishankar garnered 99.8K followers. His first tweet was retweeted 5.4K times and got 33K ‘Likes’. So far, Jaishankar has tweeted just 10 times. Most of his Twitter interaction is about thanking his well-wishers and acquaintances.
My first tweet.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) June 1, 2019
Thank you all for the best wishes!
Honoured to be given this responsibility.
Proud to follow on the footsteps of @SushmaSwaraj ji
Jaishankar has some very large shoes to fill. His predecessor was not just a Twitter darling but a social media rockstar who changed the way Ministry of External Affairs. Sushma Swaraj joined Twitter in November 2010. As of today, she has 12.8 million followers. She has tweeted 6,336 times and liked 10 tweets as on date. Swaraj continued with her Twitter outreach even from hospital.
Vikas Swarup, the then foreign ministry spokesman while speaking to the Washington Post had said the minister’s “personal interventions on social media are really an extension of her personality—empathetic and caring to those in distress, wherever they may be." Jaishankar is the first foreign secretary to head the MEA as minister.
Jaishankar, who takes charge of the ministry nearly 16 months after he retired as foreign secretary, will also have to deal with overall expectations of expanding India's global influence and stature, particularly in key multilateral forums like G-20, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS.
However, a major focus of the ministry under his leadership is likely to be on further boosting India's trade and defence ties with the US, Russia, France, Japan and the European Union as well as with the countries of the neighbourhood. Another challenge for him will be to further strengthen India's ties with China, badly hit by the Doklam standoff in mid 2017. The 64-year-old -- who is not a member of either the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha at this point -- is also likely to push for deepening cooperation with the African continent where China is fast expanding its influence and presence.