Sandhu, who succeeds Harsh Vardhan Shringla, is expected present letter of credence within days.
Senior Indian diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu would soon be arriving from balmy Colombo to snowy Washington, DC, to take charge as India’s new ambassador to the United States.
Currently posted as High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, Sandhu, a 1988 batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service, has had an illustrious diplomatic career.
Expected to arrive in Washington as early as this weekend, Sandhu is likely to present his letter of credence — which marks the official beginning of an ambassador’s tenure — within days of his arrival, the American Bazaar has learned.
He would be taking charge at a crucial time with a lot happening on the US-India front whether it comes to economic or diplomatic relationship.
The new ambassador’s appointment also comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s expected visit to India. Carefully being watched for in both Washington and New Delhi, the Trump visit is likely to have a great impact on US-India relations.
Sandhu would also have to contend with a highly charged atmosphere in the US with many Indian Americans as well as minority and civil rights organizations holding protests against India’s newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The controversial law gives non-Muslim refugees who have fled religious persecution from India’s three Islamic neighbors — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — a fast track to Indian citizenship.
Some members of the US Congress too have criticized the CAA as “undemocratic” for excluding Muslims.
They have also expressed concern over a communication blockade and alleged human rights violations in the erstwhile Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir since August last year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s central government last August repealed Article 370 of the Indian Constitution giving the region a special status and split in into two centrally ruled Union territories – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
But diplomat Sandhu looks well equipped to navigate the strategic India-US relations as he is no stranger to the territory. He has been posted twice at the Indian embassy in Washington previously.
Sandhu served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian embassy between 2013-2017 and as First Secretary back in 1997.
Sandhu has also served at India’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York between 2005-2009.
Ambassador Sandhu was given a well-attended farewell reception in Colombo on Monday.
After a great innings in the island country, Sandhu is already being welcomed as an experienced hand in the US by many members of Indian trade and business community.
(This post has been updated.)