New Indian envoy for China could be delayed
Sources said it would take a while before India names its next ambassador to China as the two contenders, Gautam Bambawale and Harshvardhan Shringla, the high commissioners to Pakistan and Bangladesh, have equally strong credentials.india Updated: Jun 30, 2017 20:07 IST
Indian envoy to China, Vijay Gokhale, would stay there till October before he takes over as economic relations secretary at the foreign ministry headquarters in New Delhi.
Sources said it would take a while before the government names its next ambassador to China as the two contenders, Gautam Bambawale and Harshvardhan Shringla, the high commissioners to Pakistan and Bangladesh, have equally strong credentials.
If Bambawale gets the Beijing posting, the envoy to Poland, Ajay Bisaria, is likely to be sent to Pakistan.
Bambawale has extensive experience in China affairs, but his Beijing stint could be less than a year since he retires in September 2018. The 1984-batch Indian Foreign Service officer was the first consul general of India in Guangzhou in 2007.
Shringla has five more years of service and might work to his advantage because a longer term is seen ideal for a sensitive posting such as Beijing, especially under current circumstances.
Bilateral ties between the two Asian giants plummeted amid a stand-off over China building a road near the border in Sikkim. The neighbours share a 3,500km frontier, parts of which are disputed.
Besides, Beijing has been blocking India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Supplier’s Group.
Sources said envoys with a reasonably long tenure are preferred for important postings, but there’s no such norm or hardly followed.
The government can extend an ambassador’s term, if required. But the practice is rare, barring the case of foreign secretary S Jaishankar.
For Bambawale, it would be one tricky neighbour to another is he moves to Beijing.
His possible replacement in Islamabad is Bisaria, an IFS officer of the 1987 batch, who was private secretary to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
He handled the Eurasia division of the foreign ministry that deals with Russia before he was sent to Poland as the Indian envoy.
Gopal Baglay, the external affairs ministry spokesperson, is tipped to join the prime minister’s office (PMO) as a joint secretary.
He has vast experience in handling Pakistan — both as joint secretary of the territorial division that deals with the neighbour and as India’s deputy high commissioner in Islamabad. And he has served in the office of former external affairs minister SM Krishna.
Ravish Kumar, the consul general in Frankfurt, could be drafted in as be next spokesperson, the most visible face of the foreign office.
He would be the fourth spokesperson after Syed Akbaruddin, Vikas Swarup and Baglay since the NDA government came to power in 2014.