When was the last time an Indian prime minister travelled to four African countries in one stretch? It’s a tough one, and is sure to evoke a long pause, followed by silence and murmurs of can’t remember. This question has been asked with a tinge of anguish many a time in Africa circles, but with Prime Minister Narendra Modi heading to Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania early this week, it’s going to be replaced, mercifully, by what’s next.Read More
You have only one life to live, and one question to ask. One question, one person. And don’t weave multiple questions into one, like the Matryoshka doll. And as any seasoned journalist covering India’s foreign office, better known as MEA, knows by this time that they can speculate endlessly, but he does not respond to speculation. Only hard facts, truth-telling, albeit with a bit of spinning that goes with his job.
Syed Akbaruddin’s pointed one-liners, witticisms and sharp ripostes are now part of folklore in the universe the voraciously inquisitive and intrusive media inhabits. And rightly so, for Akbar, as he is being fondly called by his colleagues in the ministry and journalists covering the MEA beat, set new benchmarks for communicating and batting for the government, regardless of the dispensation in power.
Akbar, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry who makes way for his successor Vikas Swarup on April 18, will be sorely missed by his countless admirers as he moves into his next position, this time around as Chief Coordinator for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III), to be held in New Delhi in October. The new interim position, till he gets a coveted ambassadorial posting, reflects the high standing he enjoys with the powers-that-be as the Narendra Modi government was looking exactly for someone like Akbar to be the face of India’s diplomatic outreach to Africa.
With his proven skills in communication and public diplomacy which he helmed for India for over three years, the government can safely bank on the suave and articulate Akbar to pull off a successful summit and the larger project of building bridges with the vibrant African continent that is set to loom large on India’s diplomatic horizons in months to come.