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New star of Twitter, Nirupama Rao

Diplomats are not known to be publicly communicative.

delhi Updated: Mar 02, 2011 22:55 IST

Diplomats are not known to be publicly communicative. But India's busy foreign secretary Nirupama Rao has squeezed in time to break the communication barriers between her ministry and ordinary people by responding on Twitter to queries on Libya, Somali pirates and other crises affecting the country.

The initiative has earned Rao wide praise and support.

Rao wrote in one of her latest tweets on the safe evacuation of Indians from the crisis ridden Libya, "Another 1,050 Indians will be evacuated today (Wednesday) from Tripoli."

Diplomats are not used to being in the public eye and talk to the media only through their designated spokespersons. But the tech savvy Rao has transcended those layers to communicate directly with the people through the micro-blogging website.

A user, @vharshan, pointed out that "there are ab(ou)t 800 Indians at Misurata. LISCO's private port can handle ships upto 250,000 dwt. Our ships can berth there". Rao was quick to tweet a word of gratitude and said at 10 am Wednesday: "Thankn you. We r working on sending a ship to Misurata for evacuation."

Rao said approximately "4,600 Indians (have been) evacuated from Libya so far. By tonite 6,177 Indians would have been evacuated from Libya. This would be 33 percent of our people there".

The foreign secretary is receiving tweets of praise from some of her 3,968 followers. "Great going Ms.Rao! Way to go!".

"I agree & truly appreciate her followup methods," wrote @SangitaSri.

"Excellent project mgmt & like yr updates on the matter. Welcome!" posted @renjithps.

When @guptar asked "Why didn't India charter aircraft/ships like China, which evacuated 29,000 nationals?", Rao quickly shot back: "India has chartered ships and aircraft. Please believe me when I say this. I will not comment on the Chinese statistics..."

A user asked if India plans to help evacuating nationals of friendly nations, Rao replied; "Our first priority will be our nationals given numbers involved. We will try and help wherever possible."

Another hot topic on her Twitter page is Indians held hostage by Somali pirates.

Answering queries, she wrote that the shipping ministry was the nodal authority related to the hostage crisis. "Owner of MV Suez, owned by an Egyptian company, had promised to take action to free hostages but nothing was done. The DG Shipping continues his efforts."

MV Suez is the Panama-flagged vessel captured by the pirates in August last year. There are four Pakistanis, six Indians, four Sri Lankans and 11 Egyptians on board the hijacked ship.

"There are no easy solutions (the hostage crisis). Our navy is doing a stellar job on anti-piracy front. International cooperation and coordination is key," Rao tweeted in response to a query from @fulltosss: "What as a govt are we doing to protect the Indian nationals taken captive by the somali pirates??"

"Thx had been a govt some immediate intervention is of an indian national is precious," was the reply.

First Published: Mar 02, 2011 22:54 IST