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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

The Spin Of The Coin

And a valedictory sting from outgoing foreign secretary Sujatha Singh

The Spin Of The Coin
The Spin Of The Coin
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

SujathaSpeak

On Modi
“I tried my best to brief the PM in Hindi. Maybe I should have tried briefing him in Tamil. I may have got the nuances right.”

On diplomats
“The foremost qualities that a foreign secretary must possess are honesty and integrity—and not
self-promotion.”

On her father
“If I had such political connections, my husband would not have had only one stint as ambassador, and that too in Iran.”

***

Bickering, back-stabbing, name-calling. All par for the course among diplomats of the foreign ministry, as among bureaucrats and senior police and military officers. In the foreign ministry, they usually intensify during power struggles. But nothing, sources in the ministry say, has matched the  bitterness over the abrupt replacement of foreign secretary Sujatha Singh with Subrahmanyam Jaishankar late last month. Much of the drama is being played out by the rival camps through plants in the media—as also through tweets and posts in the social media.

Few had expected the transition to be smooth when, on January 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to remove Sujatha from the post six months before her two-year tenure was to end. Jaishankar was brought in, just three days before he was to retire from the IFS. For the 100-odd diplomats who gathered at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan on Janpath last week for her farewell, the mood was grim. This was no ordinary change of guard.

But the verbal fusillade Sujatha unleashed, with sharp references to Modi and her successor, came as a shock to everyone present. “The foremost qualities of a foreign secretary are honesty and integrity,...

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