New Delhi: In a significant development, the Narendra Modi government on Wednesday night appointed Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, currently India's Ambassador to the United States, the next Foreign Secretary, replacing Sujatha Singh with immediate effect.
S Jaishankar has been appointed new Foreign Secretary of the country replacing Sujatha Singh, whose tenure has been curtailed with immediate effect, the PTI reported.
The surprise announcement was made after a meeting of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sujatha Singh's two-year tenure was to end in August this year. The government's sudden administrative decision is likely to create a strong reaction within the Indian Foreign Service.
Sujatha Singh enjoyed full backing of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who wanted her to stay on as foreign secretary.
Sujatha Singh - only the third woman diplomat to serve as foreign secretary - has not served at Indian missions in any of India's neighbours.
Meanwhile, Dr Jaishankar is seen as a bigger player on a larger stage and considered suitable to go along with Modi's world view.
Dr Jaishankar, whose father K Subrahmanyam was the legendary guru of strategic affairs, has the appetite to take bold decisions and capable of out of box thinking. Before he moved to Washington, DC, Dr Jaishankar served as ambassador in China and as high commissioner in Singapore.
From the foreign service's 1978 batch, Dr Jaishankar was considered the front-runner to succeed Ranjan Mathai as foreign secretary last year. Then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who valued his work on the India-US nuclear agreement was willing to appoint him as foreign secretary, but reportedly succumbed to the pressure from his advisers and some senior Congress leaders.
Dr Singh finally settled for Sujatha Singh - whose father is the former Intelligence Bureau director T V Rajeshwar - going by the criteria of seniority.
Dr Jaishankar would have retired from the IFS in January 2015 in due course, but Dr Singh extended the tenure of six IFS officers in August 2013 by two years which included Dr Jaishankar who was then appointed India's Ambassador to the US.
Following the extension, Dr Jaishankar is due to retire in December 2016.