Indian diplomat finally gets a posting

Better late than never

A year after Rajesh Nandan Prasad was appointed India’s envoy to Switzerland, the senior diplomat is finally packing his bags to leave New Delhi, albeit not for Bern, but Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands.

Prasad, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1980 batch, was appointed India’s ambassador to Switzerland in June 2012. He was supposed to succeed Chitra Narayanan.

He, however, had to wait in New Delhi for about a year, as Narayanan, who happens to be the daughter of former president K R Narayanan, was given an unusual extension for medical reasons.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took about a year to find an alternative position for Prasad. This week, he was finally appointed India’s envoy to the Netherlands.

Prasad was the Indian deputy high commissioner in London till June 2012, when he was selected to succeed Narayanan, an IFS officer of the 1978 batch.

He was about to leave for the Swiss capital Bern when the MEA asked him to return to New Delhi. The government then granted Narayanan an extension till the end of 2012 so that she could continue her treatment in Switzerland.

She was subsequently given another extension for about a year.

The government’s decision to give extensions to Narayanan on medical grounds created a flutter in the MEA. The ambassadors are sometimes given extensions for various reasons.

But, according to some officials, extension on medical grounds was rather unusual in the country’s diplomatic service.

While instructions to give extensions to Narayanan apparently came from the top echelons of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, a section within the MEA was unhappy as it deferred the ascent of another diplomat for more than a year.

Prasad’s chance finally came with the retirement of New Delhi’s envoy to Amsterdam, Bhaswati Mukherjee. 

Narayanan took over as the Indian ambassador to Switzerland in August 2008. She earlier served as India’s Ambassador to Sweden and Turkey.

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