NEW DELHI: Taking over as the new foreign secretary, S Jaishankar said that "government's priorities were his priorities", as he asserted his feeling of being "honoured" on being assigned the "big responsibility".
He took over at 9.30 a.m. at the corner office in South Block, which had only been vacated by his predecessor Sujatha Singh on Wednesday.
The New Indian Express's Editorial Director, Prabhu Chawla had predicted this move correctly. "South Block Buzz. S. Jaishankar to replace Sujatha Singh as foreign secretary soon after Obama leaves India? Where will Ms Singh go?" he posted on twitter on January 27.
"This is a big responsibility. I would say that I am very honoured that I have been assigned this responsibility. I look forward to working with all of you," he said.
When asked about his aims as FS, the 1977 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, who was the Indian ambassador to US till Wednesday, said, "my priorities are the government’s priorities."
Having signed his joining order for today, he will be a foreign secretary till Jan 29, 2017. This major shake-up at the top comes just a day after US president Barack Obama wrapped up his India trip. Jaishankar had been one key architects of the 2005 India-US nuclear deal, whose implementation may finally take off after this visit.
Interestingly, he added that he hoped to work more with the media. "I know that media is an important part of our Foreign policy projection," he said.
Inevitably, the quick move on Wednesday night has led to the opposition raising questions. Congress asked for the reasons for Sujatha Singh to be removed as foreign secretary before her tenure ended on July 31.
Jaishankar's elevation, which had been rumoured for a long time, had to take place soon as he was to retire on January 31.
The next Indian ambassador to US could be Arun Kumar Singh, currently posted in Paris.
There is still some confusion on how and whether Sujatha Singh will get a consolation post. According to sources, she had put in her papers on Wednesday, unhappy with her offer.
After taking over, Jaishankar had a formal meeting with the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
One of his main jobs next month for Jaishankar would be to chair over the Conferences of the heads of mission, the first gathering of Indian ambassadors called by the new Modi government.