Diplomat-turned-EAM Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

S Jaishankar is the first foreign secretary to head the MEA as minister, taking charge hardly 16 months after he retired as foreign secretary

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Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

New Delhi: Former foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has been given charge of the External Affairs ministry, a rare instance of a career diplomat handling the key portfolio as a minister.

Considered an expert on China and the US, the new External Affairs minister’s moves will be keenly watched to see whether he brings any changes in India’s approach in dealing with a hostile Pakistan.

When Jaishankar impressed MPs

India will not react to Chinese media

Jaishankar is the first foreign secretary to head the MEA as minister. Taking charge of the ministry hardly 16 months after he retired as foreign secretary, he will also have to deal with overall expectations of expanding India’s global influence and stature, particularly in key multilateral forums like G-20, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS.

However, a major focus of the ministry under his leadership is likely to be on further boosting India’s trade and defence ties with the US, Russia, France, Japan and the European Union as well as with the countries of the neighbourhood.

Another challenge for him will be to further strengthen India’s ties with China, badly hit by the Doklam standoff in mid 2017. The 64-year-old — who is not a member of either the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha at this point — is also likely to push for deepening cooperation with the African continent where China is fast expanding its influence and presence.

Getting the long-awaited membership of the UN Security Council and Nuclear Suppliers Group is expected to be another area of interests of the new government. India has also been trying enhance ties with the Gulf region as well as the hydrocarbon rich Central Asia, and Jaishankar is set to ensure continuity on it.

Jaishankar: A track record

Jaishankar, son of the late K Subrahmanyam, one of India’s leading strategic analysts, was a key member of the Indian team which negotiated the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal. The deal, initiated in 2005, took several years to craft and was signed by the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh in 2007.

Jaishankar’s appointment as foreign secretary in January 2015 evoked a sharp reaction from various quarters over the timing of the government’s decision to remove Sujatha Singh. He had earlier served as India’s Ambassador to the US and before that to China.

A 1977-batch IFS officer, Jaishankar played a key role in resolving the crisis following the incursion in Ladakh’s Depsang and the Doklam stand-off, handling the tough negotiations with Beijing.

Among other positions, Jaishankar has been India’s High Commissioner to Singapore and Ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Last year, Tata Group appointed Jaishankar, who was Indian foreign secretary from January 2015 to January 2018, as its president for global corporate affairs, within three months of his retirement from the government service.

A graduate of St Stephen’s College, Jaishankar is an MA in Political Science and an MPhil and PhD in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Jaishankar is married to Kyoko Jaishankar and has two sons and a daughter. In 2019, Jaishankar was conferred with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of the country.

S Jaishankar is the first career diplomat and foreign secretary to handle the key portfolio of External Affairs Minister. Here is a list of those who have held the portfolio before Jaishankar.

Predecessors

Sushma Swaraj: 27 May 2014 — 26 May 2019

Salman Khurshid: 28 October 2014 — 26 May 2014

SM Krishna: 22 May 2009 — 26 October 2012

Pranab Mukherjee: 24 October 2006 —  22 May 2009

Manmohan Singh: 6 November 2005 — 24 October 2006

K Natwar Singh: 22 May 2004 — 6 November 2005

Yashwant Sinha: 1 July 2002 — 22 May 2004

Jaswant Singh: 5 December 1998 — 23 June 2002

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: 19 March 1998 — 5 December 1998

IK Gujral: 1 June 1996 — 18 March 1998

Sikander Bakht: 21 May 1996 — 1 June 1996

Pranab Mukherjee: 10 February 1995 — 16 May 1996

Dinesh Singh: 18, January 1993 — 10 February 1995

PV Narasimha Rao: 31 March 1992 — 18 January 1993

Madhavsinh Solanki: 21 June 1991 — 31 March 1992

Vidya Charan Shukla: 21 November 1990 — 20 February 1991

IK Gujral: 5 December 1989 — 10 November 1990

VP Singh: 2 December 1989 — 5 December 1989

PV Narasimha Rao: 25 June 1988 — 2 December 1989

Rajiv Gandhi: 25 July 1987 — 25 June 1988

ND Tiwari: 22 October 1986 — 25 July 1987

P Shiv Shankar: 12 May 1986 — 22 October 1986

Bali Ram Bhagat: 25 September 1985 — 12 May 1986

Rajiv Gandhi: 31 October 1984 — 24 September 1985

Indira Gandhi: 19 July 1984 — 31 October 1984

PV Narasimha Rao: 14 January 1980 — 19 July 1984

Shyam Nandan Prasad Mishra: 26 March 1977 — 28 July 1979

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: 26 March 1977 — 28 July 1979

Yashwantrao Chavan: 10 October 1974 — 24 March 1977

Sardar Swaran Singh: 27 June 1970 — 10 October 1974

Dinesh Singh: 14 February 1969 — 27 June 1970

Indira Gandhi: 6 September 1967 — 13 February 1969

MC Chagla: 14 November 1966 — 5 September 1967

Sardar Swaran Singh: 18 July 1964 — 14 November 1966

Lal Bahadur Shastri: 9 June 1964 — 17 July 1964

Gulzarilal Nanda: 27 May 1964 — 9 June 1964

Jawaharlal Nehru: 2 September 1946 — 27 May 1964