S. Jaishankar — a policy wonk among politicians

Former Foreign Secretary is known for his handling of China.


S. Jaishankar on Thursday became the first former Foreign Secretary to be inducted into the Union Cabinet.

While Indian Foreign Service officials have held the position of President, Vice-President and other high-profile offices, Mr. Jaishankar is the first former IFS officer to join the government without being a member of the ruling party.

“He is an outstanding diplomat and will perform really well,” said former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, who was a secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) before he became a Cabinet Minister in 2004.

Mr. Jaishankar took over as Foreign Secretary in January 2015 after a stint in Washington DC as India’s envoy. During the posting, he played a key role in ensuring the successful first visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S.


As Foreign Secretary, Mr. Jaishankar conducted the massive relief operation in Nepal after the devastating earthquake in April 2015.

He was also responsible for boosting India’s campaign for a seat at the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other export control regimes.

Mr. Jaishankar’s experience with China is acknowledged in policy circles. As India’s Ambassador in Beijing, he handled the issue of stapled visa for Indian citizens from Arunachal Pradesh and later, as Foreign Secretary, he helmed the response to the 73-day Doklam standoff in 2017.

He also worked in support of broadening of India’s maritime diplomacy by reaching out to the Asia-Pacific region. The Quad dialogue involving India, Japan, U.S. and Australia was conducted during his stint as the Foreign Secretary in 2017.

Born to strategic affairs commentator K. Subrahmanyam and Sulochana, Mr. Jaishankar was educated at JNU and joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1977 after a brief stint as a journalist.

Serving in multiple locations like Sri Lanka, his decades-long career was distinguished. Mr. Jaishankar, a Russian language expert, served his longest ambassadorial tenure in China during the UPA era, which was followed by his stint in the U.S.

After his retirement in 2018, he joined Tata Sons. He received a Padma Shri, one of the high civil decorations of the Indian state, for his services in 2019.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 4:11:46 AM |

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