The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) this month will have 3 new joint secretaries, or point persons, taking up some of the toughest assignments in the ministry, including handling countries like Nepal and Pakistan in the neighborhood and also managing relations with the US.
While Arindam Bagchi, an IFS officer of 1995 batch, will head the crucial northern division of MEA, which handles Bhutan and Nepal affairs, Sandeep Chakravorty (IFS 1996) will be the new joint secretary of the all-important AMS (Americas) division. The AMS division handles all issues related to the US and Canada.
An IFS officer of 2002 batch and expert on Pakistan-Afghanistan affairs, J P Singh has already taken over as joint secretary of the high-profile Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran (PAI) division.
While Bagchi was India's ambassador to
Croatia, Chakravorty and Singh
served as India's consul general in
respectively before they arrived here to take up their new assignments.
Bagchi, who will have his hands full dealing with an increasingly hostile Nepal under PM K P Oli, has in the past worked with PMO and was India's deputy chief of mission (DCM) in Sri Lanka before he joined as ambassador in Croatia.
In fact, Chakravorty too is well versed in India's neighbourhood affairs, as he was also India's DCM in Bangladesh before he was appointed ambassador to Peru and later consul general in New York.
Singh had served as India's deputy high commissioner to Pakistan for more than 4 years, from 2014 to early 2019. He had also served in Afghanistan for 4 years from 2008 to 2012. He was in Kabul when two terrorist attacks took place on the indian embassy during 2008-12 in which many lives were lost, including of some Indian officials.
Singh served in Pakistan during one of the most difficult period in bilateral ties in recent times. He was in Islamabad when
PM Narendra Modi
made his unscheduled stop in Lahore in December 2015 to greet then PM Nawaz Sharif following the decision to resume talks with Pakistan under the new name of comprehensive bilateral dialogue.
This initiative was quickly undone by the
airbase attack early 2016. A few months later, Pakistan arrested an Indian national,
, claiming he was an Indian spy in what turned out to be another setback to ties. When Pakistan allowed Jadhav's family to meet him after almost 2 years, Singh accompanied his wife and mother to the Pakistan foreign office.