Incumbent Sujatha Singh fired.
By The American Bazaar Staff
NEW DELHI: The Indian ambassador to the United States, S. Jaishankar, has been tapped to be India’s new foreign Secretary for a term of two years, after the government replaced the incumbent Sujatha Singh without warning, in an official notification, on Tuesday.
Singh had about seven months still left in her tenure. Jaishankar was scheduled to finish his service in Washington at the end of this month. The Indian government has not named Jaishankar’s replacement.
According to The Hindu, Jaishankar was chosen for his role in rebuilding India-U.S. ties after the Devyani Khobragade incident, capped by the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to New Delhi this week. The Indian Express reported that he was also reportedly close to the political establishment, for his knowledge of the intricacies of the Indo-US ties, china and Russia.
Senior officials told the Hindu that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been particularly impressed by Jaishankar’s handling of his visit to the U.S. in September and had been keen to retain him.
Jaishankar’s new posting was announced after a meeting of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tuesday evening.
“The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the following: Curtailment of tenure of Ms Sujatha Singh, IFS 1976, as Foreign Secretary with immediate effect… Appointment of Dr S Jaishankar, IFS 77, as Foreign Secretary with a tenure of two years, from the date of assumption of charge or until further orders,” said an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training.
Sources confirmed to the Hindu that after the notification, Singh has put in her papers and sought voluntary retirement. It is also unclear whether the sudden move will upset other officers in the Ministry of External Affairs, in the same manner the surprise appointment of the foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon that had seen several officers resign in protest in 2006.
Prior to his assignment in Washington, Jaishankar had served as Ambassador to China. He has also served as the High Commissioner in Singapore. As Joint Secretary in charge of the Americas in the years 2004-2007, he was also one of the architects of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal that saw a “breakthrough” in progress during Obama’s visit.
Jaishankar was posted in Tokyo prior to 2000, where he met his wife Kiyoko. His father Dr. K. Subrahmanyam was India’s most prominent defence strategist, and advised several governments as the long-time Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Analysis.