Sushma Swaraj helps woman who was mugged in Tanzania; this time, without even being asked

Charanya Kannan narrated her entire experience in a blog she published on Facebook, which was read by Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

By: Trends Desk | Published: February 3, 2017 4:50:17 pm
Charanya Kannan with police officer from Tanzania (Source: Facebook/ Charanya Kannan) Charanya Kannan with police officer from Tanzania (Source: Facebook/ Charanya Kannan)

Charanya Kannan, a woman from Chennai currently studying at Harvard Business School, probably had the worst experience of her life when she visited Tanzania for a course on public private partnerships. The woman who was there for two weeks with 39 others got mugged by a biker in her second week in Dar Es Salaam and lost her passport, phones, cash and credit cards. Initially, she tried to take the help of an official at Indian Embassy in Tanzania who told her nothing can be done but after making a few calls to the ‘right’ people, she got a handwritten passport and managed to reach the US in time.

Kannan narrated her entire experience in a blog she published on Facebook, which was read by Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. The minister – ever active on Twitter – tweeted out to Kannan, asking for the name of the officer at the Indian High Commission who had refused to help her despite being informed that she may have to forego her degree if she doesn’t reach the US in time.

In her blog, Kannan wrote that after filing the police complaint, she met the consular officer who told her, rather rudely, “You can’t return this Saturday. Passport issue takes 3 weeks here. I can give you an emergency certificate with which you can go back to India and apply for passport from there. That will take 2-3 months in India.” The woman tried to convince her and told him about the efficiency of Ministry of External Affairs in India but he said, “You tweet to anyone. Let’s see what they can do. What will they do? They will tell us to do and again we only do it. You tweet to anyone, let’s see what you can do.”

“Charanya Kannan – I have carefully gone through your write up. Just give me the name of this Officer in Indian High Commission in Tanzania,” tweeted Swaraj, to which Kannan responded with a thanks. “Madam, SS-Cons at HCI, Mr. A. Mahapatra received Ms Charanya initially. I am sending a report shortly. HCI Tanzania,” tweeted India in Tanzania, official twitter account of the High Commission of India in Dar es Salaam giving details of the officer.

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Fortunately, Kannan knew a couple of people who could help her get the passport and visa within days due to which she eventually boarded the flight back to US with her group.

She wrote, “I realised there was no point in being the good Samaritan who follows processes any more.I immediately wrote a message to my friends all across the world, Ashwin Bhaskaran (Third Secretary, Indian Embassy in Spain) and Banu Prakash (Deputy Director General, Indian Embassy in Taiwan) and I called Kapidhwaja Pratap Singh (Third Secretary, Indian Embassy in France).

In two hours, I got a call from Mr.Robert Shetkintong, the Deputy High Commissioner of the Indian High Commission in Tanzania, and he chortled as he said, “Looks like you have friends in Paris.”

She admits that being a student of HBS and having the right contacts helped her get through the situation. “And not a day has passed by without me wondering how very different this would have been if I was in a similar situation two years ago and how much of a difference privilege makes,” she wrote.

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