Breaking with hallowed tradition, U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that he has nominated an Indian-American woman, Nisha Desai Biswal, to a top State Department role overseeing India and a vast swathe of nations in the region, the key post of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia (SCA).

Pending confirmation by the Senate, Ms. Biswal, who is currently the Assistant Administrator for Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will step into the shoes of incumbent Robert Blake, and lead policymaking at the State Department for India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Warm praise for Nisha Biswal

Nisha Desai Biswal, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia (SCA), will be, if confirmed, will be the first Indian-American and first member of a minority ethnic community in the U.S. to be elevated to the post.

In his statement, Mr. Obama said: “It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join this Administration to serve the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

Current head of SCA Robert Blake said in a tweet on Friday morning, “Great News! @NishaBiswal has been officially nominated to be the next A/S for South and Central Asia.” Numerous members of the Indian-American community took to social media after news of her impending nomination broke, mostly with congratulatory messages; some wondered whether it would bring the U.S. and India even closer together as strategic partners.

Ms. Biswal, who has a B.A. from the University of Virginia, has served at USAID, headed by another Indian-American, Rajiv Shah, since September 2010.