New Delhi: A day after Barack Obama left India, the Modi government on late Wednesday sacked the Foreign secretary Sujatha Singh with immediate effect”, ending her tenure eight months before she was due to retire.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s ambassador to the US, who’s a batch junior to Singh in the service, will be the new foreign secretary. Singh is the second foreign secretary to be removed unceremoniously after Rajiv Gandhi removed A P Venkateswaran 28 years ago in 1987.
Singh formally quit on Thursday but not before she sent out her emotional resignation letter and which was also made public, which may lead to some red faces. But politically BJP government is on a strong wicket as it was the Congress regime of Rajiv Gandhi which began the tradition of sacking a foreign secretary, and BJP sources are citing that in their defence.
Below is the full text of Sujatha Singh’s letter of resignation:
I have today sought early retirement from Government service.
My life as a civil servant in the service of India, both overseas and in India, has given me the opportunity to serve not just the Government of India but the people of India and the idea of India that we have had the honour to represent as professional diplomats – the largest democracy in the world, teeming, vibrant, resonant with all its diversities, cultures, languages and civilisational splendour. A democracy that demands patience in untangling the mysterious ways it works, a system that infuriates more often than not, but a system that surprisingly also delivers, more often than not, because of the people who hold it up, the people who make it run.
I believe that civil servants are among the millions of people who work towards enabling India to deliver, who work towards enabling India to realise its enormous potential, who assist fellow Indians in realising their aspirations. Not all civil servants perhaps, but some of us certainly, and among them I count the Indian Foreign Service as amongst, if not the best in terms of professionalism, in terms of competence and in terms of sheer dedication and world view. Like any other civil service or indeed profession, we have our shortcomings. But what we do possess in the Ministry of External Affairs are great institutional strengths, strengths that we have consistently built on over the years and that keep MEA in the vanguard of change in GOL It is this inherent strength that has enabled MEAto rise consistently to the challenges presented to us – to prepare, to organise, to deliver and to follow up, on what has perhaps been the most charged, and indeed the most successful, of any new Government’s post election foreign engagements.
I believe that the Foreign Secretary, as Head of this Service and the senior-most civil servant in the Ministry, plays a critical role in being the main point of interface with the political leadership, in giving objective advice that takes into account India’s foreign policy interests over all connected and interlinked aspects.
While individuals can and do play a critical role in building institutions, I believe that no individual is larger than the institution. It can never be about individuals. It has to be about institutions and how institutions interface and coordinate with each other.
Colleagues, it has been my privilege to have served over 38 years in the Indian Foreign Service, and a particular privilege to have served as Foreign Secretary over the past 18 months, leading the remarkable women and men who work selflessly, at all levels of MEA,to advance India’s interests abroad. I will continue to cherish this sense of pride for the rest of my life.