NEW DELHI: External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was on Monday appointed as India’s next permanent representative to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva.
Bagchi is currently additional secretary in the external affairs ministry. He is expected to take up the assignment shortly, according to an official statement.
HT first reported on October 3 that Bagchi would become the envoy to UN in Geneva.
People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that four diplomats are being considered to replace Bagchi as the foreign ministry’s spokesperson, including Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, joint secretary (G20), and K Nandini Singla, high commissioner to Mauritius.
Bagchi, from the 1995 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), took over as spokesperson in March 2021 and had an eventful stint that spanned the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, India’s standoff with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the country’s G20 presidency.
He was due to take up an ambassadorial posting following his promotion to the rank of additional secretary some time ago but was asked to stay on till the holding of the G20 Summit.
Kakanur was a key part of the team led by India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant that was involved in negotiations to finalise the consensus leaders’ declaration at the G20 Summit last month. He is considered to have the edge in the process to appoint the next spokesperson, the people said.
An officer of the 1998 batch of the IFS, Kakanur is a fluent Mandarin speaker and has done four separate stints in China. Besides two stints in the embassy in Beijing during 2000-03 and 2009-12, he served at the consulate in Hong Kong during 2003-06, and as consul general in the consulate at Guangzhou during 2013-15.
Nandini Singla, from the 1997 batch of the IFS, has served as the ambassador to Portugal during 2016-20, and as joint secretary (Europe West) during 2015-16. She also did a stint at the permanent mission to the UN in Geneva during 2009-11 and served at the high commission in Bangladesh during 2005-08.
If she is appointed the spokesperson, she will be the first woman diplomat to hold the post after Nirupama Rao, who held the position during 2001-02 and went on to become the foreign secretary.
In Geneva, Bagchi will replace Indra Mani Pandey, who is expected to return to the headquarters in New Delhi, the people said.
Bagchi has considerable experience in multilateral diplomacy, having served at India’s permanent mission to the UN in New York looking after economic and development issues, and as director in the Prime Minister’s Office, handling relations with the UN, the Americas and Russia.
Bagchi has also served as ambassador to Croatia and deputy high commissioner to Sri Lanka.