SENIOR most Indian Foreign Service officer Sujata Singh is becoming India’s next foreign secretary after incumbent Rajan Mathai retires in July end.
Mrs Singh, currently India’s ambassador to Germany recently shot off a letter to Prime Minister reportedly stating in clear terms that she would resign if a junior of hers is given the top diplomat’s post.
A month ago, it was almost certain India’s ambassador to China S Jaishankar, who was NSA Shivshankar Menon’s choice for the top diplomat’s job, would supersede Singh and other contenders like India’s envoy to London J Bhagwati, both belonging to 1976 batch IFS. Jaishankar, a 1977 batch IFS, enjoys an excellent personal rapport with principal secretary to PM Pulok Chatterji too.
Mrs Singh is however believed to be politically well-connected, as her father TV Rajeshwar was Intelligence Bureau chief under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Later, he was the Governor of Uttar Pradesh.
An alumnus of New Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College and Delhi School of Economics, Singh joined the Indian Foreign Service in July 1976. Born in July 1954, 59-year-old Singh will now get a two-year term as the foreign secretary.
Here are some of her overseas assignments:
1978-82: Second Secretary in Embassy of India, Bonn
1985-89: First Secretary, High Commission of India, Accra
1989-92: Counsellor, Embassy of India, Paris
1997-2000: Deputy Chief of Mission and Deputy Permanent Representative to ESCAP at Embassy of India, Bangkok,
2000-04: Consul General of India at Milan
2007-2012: High Commissioner of India, Australia
2012 till now: Ambassador of India, Germany.
Singh also took up some important postings at South Block. Here are her Headquarters postings: Under Secretary looking after Nepal (1982-85), Director, Economic Co-Ordination Unit (1992-95), Joint Secretary at the Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi (1996-97), and then additional secretary responsible for West Europe and the EU. In 1995, she attended the National Defence College in New Delhi.
Singh is married to her IFS batch-mate Sanjay Singh, and will now be his boss in the ministry. Singh will be the third woman diplomat after Chokila Iyer and Nirupama Rao to get the coveted foreign secretary’s post. Incidentally, no woman IAS on the other hand has ever become the cabinet secretary, the top bureaucrat’s post meant for IAS officers.