Kenneth Juster set to be new US Ambassador to India: All you need to know about Richard Verma's successor

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on 22 June, when Kenneth Juster's name was being considered for the post of US Ambassador to India. It is being republished in light of the fact that on Thursday night, the the US Senate confirmed by a voice vote Juster's nomination for the post.

Kenneth Juster, a top aide of US president Donald Trump, is set to be America's new ambassador to India, the White House said on Wednesday.

Juster, 62, who is the deputy assistant to the US president for international economic affairs and deputy director of his National Economic Council, would replace Richard Verma if nominated and confirmed by the Senate. However, an official announcement has not been made yet. Nevertheless, the White House confirmation in this regard puts to rest all the speculation.

 Kenneth Juster set to be new US Ambassador to India: All you need to know about Richard Vermas successor

File image of Kenneth Juster. AFP

Verma, the first Indian-American to head this position, put in his papers when Trump replaced Barack Obama as the President of the US.

The move is significant as the appointment comes just a few days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit to the United States after Donald Trump took over as the president.

A Harvard alumnus, Juster has a degree in government and public policy from the prestigious institution. He later completed his legal studies from the Harvard Law School.

A corporate veteran

Juster is a veteran of the corporate world, and had served as the Managing director of private equity investment firm Warburg Pincus until January 2017. Between 2005 and 2010, Juster served as the executive vice president of law, policy and corporate strategy at Salesforce, a software company that pioneered cloud computing for businesses.

in addition, Juster has also been an international lawyer, being a senior partner at Arnold & Porter between 1981 and 2001, with an intereggnum of four years between 1989 and 1993.

Government experience

Juster, a Republican, served in the administrations of George HW Bush and his son George W Bush.

Juster was the undersecretary of commerce between 2001 and 2005. Between 1989 and 1993, he first served as the Deputy and Senior Adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, and later became an acting counselor of the Department of State between 1992 and 1993.

In the current administration, Juster serves in the National Economic Council as the international deputy to Director Gary Cohn.

Old India hand

Juster is regarded as being an expert on India-US trade relations and is considered to be pro-India.

Indeed, a report in The Washington Post said that Juster's appointment is also endorsed by New Delhi.

“Ken knows India well and actually was deeply involved in successful bilateral negotiations between the two countries. The Indians will welcome him enthusiastically. He is a known quantity,” the daily quoted Ashley Tellis, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as saying. Interestingly, Tellis was also reportedly in the race to be the next US envoy to India.

As an undersecretary of commerce in the first term of George W Bush, Juster held the US chairmanship of the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group. he was also instrumental in developing the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, a framework which laid the foundation for the successful negotiation of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

However, his appointment can hit a roadblock as Warburg Pincus, his former employer, has been reportedly increasing its investments in Indian companies, according to a report in Daily Beast.  The report noted that Juster had handled several Indian investments for the company till January 2017, which may spell trouble for Juster, with critics raising the issue of conflict of interest. Trump's ethic rules, formulated in January this year, will also curtail Juster's decision making powers in any issue in which his ex-employer is involved in any manner.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Nov 03, 2017 09:28:23 IST