Politics

Jaishankar has the onerous task of finding a face-saving solution

India’s new ambassador faces the Khobragade test.

By Global India Newswire

WASHINGTON, DC: This was not how Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was supposed to begin his new job as India’s top diplomat in Washington.

After a four-year stint as his country’s ambassador to China, the giant neighbor with which India has several long-standing disputes, the veteran Indian Foreign Service officer was expected to kick-off his term in the US capital during the holiday season with a lot of warmth and goodwill.

But that plot was scrapped when India’s Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade was arrested for allegedly underpaying her maid and for charges of visa fraud nearly fortnight ago. The detention, during which the woman diplomat was strip-searched and cavity searched, threw the relations into turmoil, with India demanding an apology and announcing a series of retaliatory measures.

Now Jaishankar, who assumed charge on Monday within hours after landing here, has the task of first de-escalating the current crisis and finding a face-saving solution.

The envoy is expected to present a copy of his “letter of credence” from the President of India to President Obama sometime in the new year. Prior to that, he will present a copy of the letter to the Department of State in early January.

Jaishankar, who joined IFS in 1977, is the 23rd Indian ambassador to the United States and the fifth consecutive career diplomat to hold the position. He succeeds Nirupama Rao, whose two-year term ended last month.

Jaishankar is no stranger to Washington, having served as a First Secretary at the Indian embassy here from 1985 to 1988. He also had two stints at the Americas desk at the Ministry of External Affairs: first as an Under Secretary from 1981 to 1985, and then as the head of the division from 2004 to 2007.

The extensive experience gained and working relationships he built during the years should, of course come in handy now, as he began the job in such challenging circumstances.

To contact the author, email to editor@americanbazaaronline.com

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