With India looking to upscale and reconfigure its ties with the world’s leading powers, the Modi government has appointed Dr S. Jaishankar, a former foreign secretary and ex-envoy to the US and China, as the foreign minister of the country.
This is the first time a professional diplomat will assume the chare of India’s external affairs ministry, which also makes him a part of the Cabinet Committee of Security.
Dr Jaishankar, who enjoys complete confidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on issues relating to foreign policy, has been brought in to head the crucial ministry at a time when the global order is assailed by protectionist forces and the world’s two biggest economies are engaged in a vicious trade war.
A polyglot, Jaishankar’s formidable expertise and experience in dealing with the US and China (he served as New Delhi’s envoy to Beijing and Washington) will be extremely valuable for India to negotiate ties with the world’s number 1 and 2 economies.
Son of strategic affairs doyen K Subrahmanyam, Mr Jaishankar had played a pivotal role in deescalating tensions with China in the wake of the Doklam stand-off in the summer of 2017 which brought the two Asian giants to the brink of a military conflict.
He also played a starring role in the transformation of the India-US relationship over the last few years. He played a key role in the negotiations relating to the early stages of the nuclear deal as joint secretary in charge of Americas in India’s external affairs ministry.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he poured his energy to turn around the Indo-US relationship — first by organising Mr Modi’s visit to Washington in September last year, and then executing his idea of inviting US President Barack Obama as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations, then first time an American president was invited for India’s national day.
Mr. Jaishankar has a PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he specialised in nuclear diplomacy. He had previously served as India’s Ambassador to the United States (2014–15), China (2009–13) and the Czech Republic (2001–04), and as High Commissioner to Singapore (2007–09).
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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