Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s surprise addition to the Union Cabinet, former Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, was appointed as the External Affairs Minister on Friday.
The External Affairs Ministry was previously headed by Sushma Swaraj, who opted out of contesting in the Lok Sabha elections citing her health. She spearheaded various rescue operations during her term, including those in Libya and Yemen. Swaraj was much-loved by people for being one of the most approachable ministers, known for hearing out and solving grievances on Twitter.
Jaishankar, who was recently conferred with the Padma Shri, is regarded as a close aide of Prime Minister Modi and was also hailed as his ‘crisis manager’ in matters of foreign affairs.
The former diplomat was appointed as the Foreign Secretary in 2015, after the Prime Minister Modi-led NDA government took a decision to dismiss then-Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh. His term as the top diplomat was later extended by Modi before he retired in 2018.
After his retirement in January 2018, Jaishankar was hired by Tata Group as the president of its global corporate affairs.
The Padma Shri awardee is also known as the Indian government’s key strategist for China and the US. In 2008, he was a member of the team which negotiated the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal under the UPA government headed by then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Jaishankar had earlier served as India’s Ambassador to China and then to the US. He has previously been India’s Ambassador to the Czech Republic and High Commissioner to Singapore as well. He was also the First Secretary and Political Advisor to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.
It is believed that Modi came in touch with Jaishankar when he travelled to China as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2012.
Jaishankar, a 1977-batch IFS officer, played a critical role in handling tough negotiations with Beijing, following the incursion in Doklam and Ladakh’s Depsang.
A graduate of St Stephen’s College, Jaishankar holds an MA degree in Political Science and an M Phil and Ph D in International Relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
Jaishankar is married to Kyoko Jaishankar and has two sons and a daughter.