Dr. S Jaishankar is India’s current Foreign Secretary and has been serving since January 2015. He’s done a fabulous job on foreign policy matters as India’s clout and impact on the global stage has drastically risen in these three years. His extended tenure will end on January 28.
The person chosen to take his place by the Narendra Modi government is former ambassador to China and current secretary (economic relations), Vijay Keshav Gokhale. He will be India’s next foreign secretary.
A 1981-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, Gokhale is considered an expert on China. He returned to the headquarters from China in October and was appointed as secretary (economic relations). He is the senior-most serving IFS officer after Jaishankar.
Gokhale is the only Indian representative to have served both in Taiwan and China. Apart from this, he’s also served as high commissioner to Malaysia and ambassador in Germany. He had earlier handled the East Asia Division in the Ministry of External Affairs which covers India’s ties with China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Mongolia and Taiwan.
His expertise in affairs of East Asia could have been a critical factor in him being chosen as the next foreign secretary as India has both important friendship and budding animosity in the region. India’s ties with Japan and South Korea are getting stronger. With Mongolia, Prime Minister Modi has chartered a bold and applaudable path to grow ties as a counter to China. Same goes for Taiwan. Probably the biggest threat that India faces is from China, and Gokhale being an expert in matters with China will help immensely. He’s proficient in Chinese. He was also instrumental in handling the recent Doklam crisis in coordination with Jaishankar and NSA Doval.
Jaishankar was also handpicked by Prime Minister Modi and given a year’s extension. He should be aptly credited for giving a firm direction to India’s foreign policy which was almost non-existent during Manmohan Singh’s time.Jaishankar’s juniors and mentors vouch for his ‘realistic view of foreign policy’.
Exciting times ahead as a new foreign secretary takes responsibility who’s toughest task will be to deal with a powerful China that is exerting its power more and more.