Sujatha Singh will be India’s next foreign secretary. A formal announcement in this regard came on Tuesday evening, after the Appointments Committee of Cabinet approved her appointment.
Sujatha will be the 29th foreign secretary and the third woman in that post, when she occupies the corner room in the first floor of South Block on August 1.
“Smt Sujatha Singh, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) Officer of the 1976 batch, will be the next Foreign Secretary of India, with a term of two years. She will assume charge on 1st August 2013,” said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement.
Sujatha, currently serving as Indian Ambassador to Berlin, was the seniormost in the list of possible candidates to succeed Ranjan Mathai, whose two-year term ends this month.
Born in July 1954, she is the daughter of former Intelligence Bureau chief and three-time Governor T V Rajeshwar, who is known as a Gandhi family loyalist.
Within the Foreign Office, Sujatha has a reputation of being a hardworking and no-nonsense officer, who used to stay in the South Block office till late in the night. She is also known as a tough negotiator at difficult talks with foreign governments. Her colleagues narrate admiringly how she played a key role in ensuring that aid from smaller European Union countries was blocked, as they used to put unreasonable riders about human rights and gender issues.
The main challenge ahead for Sujatha is to get India’s foreign policy in shape in a neighbourhood, where countries are going through transition. Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Bangladesh are all expected to hold crucial elections within the next nine months.