Navtej Sarna, India’s high commissioner to UK, is expected to take over from Arun Singh as India’s next ambassador to the US. Sarna has only recently been sent from South Block where he was secretary (west) to London as high commissioner. Reports here say, Navtej Sarna is being asked to move to Washington as the country’s next ambassador, as the U.S. prepares for a presidential transition.
Sarna’s name was discussed and cleared at the highest level, reports said. He will take over from Arun Kumar Singh who retires by month-end. Sarna has had a previous posting in Washington when he was Minister for Press, Information and Culture between 1998 and 2002.
Before moving to London, Sarna was Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs where he oversaw the successful hosting last October of the India-Africa Forum Summit that was attended by a record number of 53 African countries.
If appointed, Sarna would keep an informal tradition alive by being the third former ambassador to Israel to make it as either deputy head or ambassador in Washington DC. Sarna is likely to be joined by Santosh Jha who is currently joint secretary (policy planning) in MEA, tasked by foreign secretary S Jaishankar with the job of completely revamping this division. Jha is likely to be the next deputy ambassador there.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally very happy with the organization of the Summit and had congratulated External Affairs Sushma Swaraj for it. It is clear Modi wanted someone in Washington he was confident would be able to steer the multi-faceted India-U.S. relations into a new phase with a new administration.
Sarna was among the longest-serving spokespersons of the ministry between 2002 and 2008. In his 35-year diplomatic career, Sinha has served in India’s diplomatic missions in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America. He has had postings in Moscow, Warsaw, Tehran, Geneva and Thimphu. Sarna is also a prolific author of many fiction and non-fiction books, with the most recent being ‘Second Thoughts: On Books, Authors and the Writerly Life’ that was released last year. He was a big hit in London’s literary circles and had also become, in a short span, a popular figure in the Indian community in the U.K.