Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s Ambassador to the United States, has been appointed as India’s next Foreign Secretary. Shringla will take charge on January 29, 2020, after incumbent Vijay Keshav Gokhale’s two-year term ends the previous day.
“I look forward to performing my duties to the best of my abilities under the guidance of our leadership,” Shringla was quoted as saying, of his new appointment, by the Hindu.
Shringla assumed charge as Indian Ambassador to the United States on January 9, 2019 as the youngest Ambassador of India to the United States. He received a rousing welcome at the Congressional Reception hosted by the Senate India Caucus and Congressional Caucus on India which was attended by an unprecedented 67 Members of the US Congress, including Senators.
A highlight of Shringla’s tenure in the US was his planning and organization of the hugely popular “Howdy Modi” event in Texas, that saw President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi address a rally together.
An Indian Foreign Service officer of the 1984 batch, who topped the civil services exam that year, Shringla has held several important positions in his diplomatic career spanning 35 years. He has served as India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh and Thailand, apart from serving in France, India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in the US, Vietnam, Israel and South Africa.
Shringla has worked closely with India’s Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar when he was Foreign Secretary (2015-2018), and Jaishankar is understood to have strongly endorsed his appointment to the top job in the Foreign Service, reported The Hindu.
In particular, Shringla’s handling of India’s neighborhood will be valued in his new assignment, given recent tensions with Bangladesh over the CAA-NRC controversy, China’s new inroads in Nepal and other South Asian countries, as well as continuing tensions with Pakistan, which have practically derailed the SAARC process, the report said.
“He is a highly respected professional with a proven track-record of competence and performance, both at headquarters and in sensitive assignments abroad,” former Ambassador to China Ashok Kantha told the Hindu.
Shringla completed his undergraduate education at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University after being schooled at Mayo College, Ajmer. He worked in the Indian corporate sector prior to joining the Indian Foreign Service.
Shringla went on his first ambassadorial assignment to Thailand and served for two years from January 2014 to January 2016. He has the distinction of being the youngest Indian Ambassador to Thailand, according to Wikipedia.
Shringla served with distinction as High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh from January 2016 to January 2019. During his time in Bangladesh, the bilateral relation between India and Bangladesh witnessed huge strides towards a multi-faceted bilateral relationship. He played a pivotal role in the successful visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, to India in April, 2017, adding a new chapter to strengthening bilateral relationship, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as heralding of a ‘Sonali Adhyay’ or a ‘Golden Era’ in the bilateral ties.
One of the major landmarks of Shringla’s career was the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh for which he worked as a Joint Secretary during the UPA era. He also lobbied for the bill in Parliament and briefed MPs personally to build consensus, reports said.
Shringla has actively engaged with US think-tanks where he has spoken, participated in round-table discussions and given keynote speeches on various topics related to India-US relations and on other topics of mutual interests to both countries, according to Wikipedia. In April of this year, Shringla addressed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he emphasized upon the need to preserve a global order based on international rules that all can adhere to.
In a panel discussion in California, at the Bay Area Council Pacific Summit on Economic Prosperity in the Century of the Pacific, on June 21, 2019, Shringla spoke at length about the business opportunities in the “rising India” and urged the Governor to lead a business delegation to India as well as open a trade office in India.
Addressing a sizable gathering of students and teachers at the Harvard Kennedy School on December 8, 2019, Shringla stated that the chariot of the Indian economy was moving forward and all the conditions for India to become a superpower in the 21st century were present. He added that India took 60 years to become a trillion-dollar-economy and another 12 years to become a 2 trillion dollar economy, 5 years from 2014 to 2019 to become a 3 trillion dollar economy, and it aims to become a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2025.