As next permanent envoy to UN, Syed Akbaruddin's focus will be India's permanent membership in UNSC

Syed Akbaruddin, India's best-ever foreign office spokesperson, has been hand-picked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the next permanent representative of India to the United Nations. He will take over his new assignment in the second week of January 2016.

In what will be his most important assignment, Akbaruddin has been chosen for the high-profile top diplomatic job in New York as the UN in its 70th year has decided to have for the first time text-based negotiations with all 193-member countries for reforms and expansion of the UN Security Council.

It has happened for the first time that the long-pending ticklish issue of reforms and expansion of the UNSC has moved from informal discussions in the Security Council and among select countries to a formal discussion in the UN General Assembly.

The appointment also comes at a time when India is sensing a whale of an opportunity to realise it's long-cherished goal of becoming a permanent member of the UNSC with veto powers. Akbaruddin had become an additional secretary a few weeks ago. The New York job he has bagged is normally a secretary-level posting. The move signifies that in the Modi dispensation it is the meritocracy and not the usual trappings of bureaucracy which matters most.

 As next permanent envoy to UN, Syed Akbaruddins focus will be Indias permanent membership in UNSC

Syed Akbaruddin. Image courtesy: Facebook

This will be the first-ever ambassadorial appointment for Akbaruddin and will contribute in a big way in making his CV impressive and will pitch him as a strong candidate for the top diplomatic job of Foreign Secretary before his scheduled retirement in 2020.

The suave career diplomat of 1985 batch has pipped to the post three Secretaries in the MEA – Anil Wadhwa, Navtej Sarna and Sujata Mehta – who all are much senior to him. Wadhwa, who is currently Secretary (East) and going to take over as India’s next ambassador in Italy, is senior to him by six years while Sarna and Mehta are senior to him by five years each.

More importantly, getting the top UN job for a much junior person like Akbaruddin was not easy as the current number two in the Indian mission in New York, Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi is also senior to him by two years. The MEA has decided to give another posting to Bishnoi before Akbaruddin takes charge.

Significantly, it has happened for the first time in MEA since 1992 when a senior officer is moved out of a station before a junior officer comes in at a more senior position. The last time it had taken place was when Ronen Sen was appointed by the Narasimha Rao government as Indian ambassador in Russia and PS Sahay, who was then in number two position in Moscow, had to be shifted out.

This puts in perspective the high degree of respect and trust Akbaruddin enjoys with PM Modi.

Akbaruddin, who is currently in charge of logistic arrangements of PM Modi’s biggest diplomatic spectacle – the third India-Africa summit in October end where all 54 heads of state/government of the African continent are invited – will naturally be keeping a close eye on the “very substantive and significant” summit meeting of the G-4 nations that India is hosting in New York on26 September.

The G4 summit is aimed at pushing for early UNSC reforms in the wake of the UN General Assembly adopting a decision to commence text-based negotiations on the long-pending reforms. The G-4 summit on September 26 will be the first since 2004 and will bring together German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and PM Modi.

Updated Date: Sep 25, 2015 08:04:04 IST