Jairam Ramesh's exit from the Environment Ministry could cause some ripples at the international level, among the friends and foes he made during the global climate change negotiations. The question they will now be asking is who will be the next face of India's position in these talks.

Mr. Ramesh had a key role in creating the powerful BASIC group — with China, South Africa and Brazil — and the Copenhagen compromise they helped craft. He also brought in a “more nuanced” stance on India's emission reduction responsibilities, slammed by critics as selling out the Kyoto Protocol and India's development imperatives to defeat poverty.

However, he wrested the responsibility of setting India's climate change agenda at the global talks only after a bitter turf battle with the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Climate Change, Shyam Saran.

Sources in the Ministry are now wondering if the new Minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, will manage to cling on to that role or whether it will effectively revert back to the Prime Minister's charge. Some have also suggested that the Ministry of External Affairs may also have a bigger say by the time the year-end United Nations summit is held in South Africa. Some early indications may emerge later this month when U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern visits India.

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