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Former foreign secy S Jaishankar joins PM Modi’s cabinet

A 1977-batch IFS officer, Jaishankar played a key role in resolving the crisis following the incursion in Ladakh’s Depsang and the Doklam stand-off, handling the tough negotiations with Beijing.

india Updated: May 30, 2019 23:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi swearing in,Modi swearing in ceremony,Modi oath taking
Former foreign Secretary S Jaishankar takes oath as cabinet minister during swearing-in ceremony of the NDA government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, May 30, 2019. (Ajay Aggarwal/HT PHOTO)

Former foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was the surprise addition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet on Thursday, taking oath ahead of several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders who held key posts in the previous government.

Jaishankar, the son of one of India’s foremost strategic thinkers, K Subrahmanyam, had joined the Tata Group as president of global corporate affairs after his stint as the foreign secretary from January 2015 to January 2018.

He is considered to be very close to the prime minister and was part of a troika with Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval that played a major role in shaping foreign policy in the early years of the last NDA government.

Experts say Jaishankar’s attitude was a good fit with Modi’s unorthodox and risk-taking approach to foreign policy issues.

Jaishankar, 64, got to know Modi when he was the Indian ambassador to China (from 2009 to 2013) and the latter visited Beijing during his stint as the chief minister of Gujarat. While serving as the Indian envoy in Washington (during 2014-15), he played a key role in ensuring the success of Modi’s visit to the US in 2014.

His work as the Indian envoy to the US catapulted him to the position of foreign secretary though he took over in controversial circumstances after Sujatha Singh was eased out of the post by curtailing her tenure.

Jaishankar is a graduate of St Stephen’s College and has a master’s degree in political science and an MPhil and PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

An IFS officer of the 1977 batch, he has widespread expertise in nuclear diplomacy and relations with the US and China. He played an important role in negotiating the 2008 India-US civil nuclear deal.

During his stint as ambassador to the US, Jaishankar helped end the spat over the arrest and search of diplomat Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud. He also helped negotiate Khobragade’s exit from the US. As foreign secretary, Jaishankar was involved in negotiations that ended the military standoff with China at Doklam in 2017.

First Published: May 30, 2019 20:13 IST