Veteran Indian diplomat Kamalesh Sharma was selected the new secretary-general of the Commonwealth, a 53-nation grouping of former British colonies, on Saturday.
The 66-year-old Sharma was chosen by Commonwealth heads of government over Malta’s Foreign Minister Michael Frendo and Commmonwealth Business Council Chairman Mohan Kaul.
In the past, several other Indians have worked as under secretary-general in the United Nations. BR Sen headed the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
An alumnus of Delhi’s St Stephen’s College and Cambridge University, Sharma is the first Asian to be appointed to the post in four decades. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his delight at Sharma’s appointment.
Sharma, currently India’s High Commissioner to Britain, will take up his new assignment on April 1, 2008 when New Zealander Don McKinnon steps down after the end of his second four-year term. The secretary general is the chief executive officer of the Commonwealth secretariat.
“It is a tough job I have taken over but I do so with confidence and enthusiasm... the Commonwealth is a great global good,” Sharma said after his selection.