The India government has named Harsh Vardhan Shringla, currently serving as India’s ambassador to the US, as the next foreign secretary.
Shringla, a topper in 1984 batch of the civil services is likely to take over soon after Republic Day, 2020.
Shringla will take over from the incumbent, Vijay Gokhale, an expert on China and East Asia, who succeeded S. Jaishankar as foreign secretary in January 2018. Jaishankar was appointed external affairs minister by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015, and unusually, got a one-year extension in the job.
Shringla, an alumnus of St Stephen’s College and Mayo College, Ajmer served as ambassador to Thailand and high commissioner to Bangladesh, before taking over as ambassador to the US. He was also a joint secretary in charge of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives division, so he would have a deeper understanding of the neighbourhood, which is of primary concern to the government.
Shringla will supersede three other officers — Ruchi Ghanshyam (1982) and Rajeev Chander (1983) and Amita Nair (1983) —when he takes over. Ghanshyam is the current high commissioner to the UK, Chander is the Indian PR in Geneva and Nair is India’s ambassador to Chile. Unusually too, Shringla would have a few months leftover in his civil services career after serving two years as foreign secretary.
Shringla’s appointment is likely to be succeeded by appointments to other key capitals. However, with a new foreign secretary in the wings, the government might wait to nominate officials to many key posts.
Kathmandu, for instance, will fall vacant at the end of this year, as Manjeev Puri, ambassador, retires. In quick succession through the next few months, the government will be looking for new appointments in London, Washington, Colombo, key capitals.
Syed Akbaruddin, who has performed spectacularly in New York as Permanent Representative in the UN, will be ready to retire in the middle of 2020.
Turkey will be without an Indian ambassador as well, after the incumbent, Sanjay Bhattacharyya comes back to headquarters to take over as Secretary CPV.
Islamabad is without a high commissioner, but given the state of the bilateral relationship, it doesn’t look like that post is likely to be filled any time soon. Ajay Bisaria, who was sent back from Islamabad, is likely to be heading to Canada soon.
Source: Times of India