Jaishankar brings expertise to the table in MEA
A career of diplomat, Jaishankar has served in China and the US and has studied international relations at JNU
At the height of the Devyani Khobragade controversy, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose to send Subramanyam Jaishankar as ambassador to the US and he could successfully negotiate the exit of India’s deputy consular general from the US in a visa fraud case. Jaishankar by then had already established his credentials as a go-getter diplomat with his term as the longest serving high commissioner to China.
In China, apart from his illustrious stint, he also found a new admirer, the then Chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, whom he hosted during his Beijing trip. He is also said to have been instrumental in materializing promises of investment to the western Indian state.
His predecessors know him as someone about whom Prime Minister Modi has high regard.
“He is very competent and he has proved his competence. Prime Minister Modi thinks highly about him. He made him foreign secretary and also given him an extension. He is of high value for his professional competence," Kanwal Sibal, career diplomat who retired as Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, told Asiaville.
Jaishankar was handpicked as the foreign secretary by Modi in 2015 and remained in office till 2018. He moved to work with Tata Sons after his retirement from the government. He has also previously held positions as the high commissioner to Singapore, apart from China and US.
A graduate of St Stephen’s College of the University of Delhi, he did his PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University. His tenure in the US cell in the Ministry of External Affairs saw him play a pivotal role in the Indo-US nuclear deal. His research in JNU in Nuclear Studies may have come in handy for this. He is son of celebrated Indian diplomat K Subramanyam, one of the key experts in Indian foreign policy and the person who drafted the nation’s nuclear policy priorities.
“It’s an excellent appointment. He himself has had a very distinguished career. I think we need badly someone who has got solid foreign policy experience in that position. He is able to look at a problem from many angles and tends to be non-dogmatic. But once there is a goal he pursues that with some determination,” another senior of Jaishankar in the foreign services, Ambassodor KP Fabian, told Asiaville.
Jaishankar fills in the position earlier held by Sushma Swaraj, whose tenure was seen to lack the punch, with media reports suggesting too direct an intervention by the Prime Minister’s Office in the affairs of the MEA. He will have a major challenge in creating a turn-around of that perception. Swaraj refused to contest Lok Sabha elections this time citing ill health. Jaishankar is currently not a member of either House of the Parliament. He will have to either successfully contest a Lok Sabha bypoll or be elected as a Rajya Sabha member from any of the states within six months to continue as Union Minister.