Harsh Vardhan Shringla appointed foreign secretary

Harsh Vardhan Shringla

 The Government on Monday formally announced the appointment of ace diplomat Harsh Vardhan Shringla, currently India's ambassador to the United States, as the next Foreign Secretary

Shringla will take over as the Foreign Secretary on January 29 – a day after incumbent Vijay Keshav Gokhale's two-year-term ends.

The Appointment Committee of the Union Cabinet on Monday approved the appointment of Shringla, an officer of Indian Foreign Service of 1984 batch, as the new Foreign Secretary.

Shringla was posted in Dhaka as High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh just before being appointed as New Delhi's envoy to Washington D.C. in December 2018.

He played a key role in securing US support for India in the aftermath of the killing of over 40 paramilitary personnel in a terror attack at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14, even as he resolutely articulated New Delhi's stand rejecting American President Donald Trump's offer to mediate between India and Pakistan. He also ensured the support of Trump Administration for the air-strike India carried out on a terrorist training camp at Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

Shringla also led India's campaign to counter Pakistan's propaganda and lobbying in the US after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government in New Delhi on August 5 moved to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and to reorganize the state into two Union Territories.

He was instrumental in ensuring Trump's joint appearance with Modi at the “Howdy! Modi” event at Houston on September 22 as well as the subsequent meeting between the two on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The other name that was doing the round for the coveted post was of Ruchi Ghanashyam, currently India's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Ghanashyam, a 1982 batch IFS officer, will retire in April 2020. She, however, would have got a two-year-term till January 2022, had she been appointed as the next Foreign Secretary.

Shringla was India's ambassador to Thailand from 2013 to 2015 before being shifted to Dhaka. He had earlier worked at UNESCO in Paris. He had also been posted at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, apart from working at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Israel and South Africa. He also headed the MEA division that had those days looked after Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar and Maldives.

Shringla, a graduate from St. Stephen college in New Delhi, had served as Director of the Northern Division dealing with Nepal and Bhutan and as Deputy Secretary of the Europe West Division in the earlier days of his career.

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