Harsh Vardhan Shringla

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Harsh Vardhan Shringla
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla at Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi
Shringla in April 2019
33rd Foreign Secretary of India
In office
29 January 2020[1] – 30 April 2022
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSubrahmanyam Jaishankar
Preceded byVijay Keshav Gokhale
Succeeded byVinay Mohan Kwatra[2]
Ambassador of India to the United States
In office
9 January 2019 – 11 January 2020
Preceded byNavtej Sarna
Succeeded byTaranjit Singh Sandhu
High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh
In office
January 2016 – January 2019
Preceded byPankaj Saran
Succeeded byRiva Ganguly Das[3][4]
Ambassador of India to Thailand
In office
January 2014 – January 2016
Preceded byAnil Wadhwa
Succeeded byBhagwant Singh Bishnoi
Personal details
Born (1962-05-01) 1 May 1962 (age 60)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Spouse(s)Hemal Shringla
Children1
Alma materSt. Stephen's College, Delhi (BA)
Mayo College, Ajmer
OccupationDiplomat
Websitemea.gov.in/fs.htm

Harsh Vardhan Shringla (born 1962) is a retired Indian diplomat of IFS cadre who served as the 33rd Foreign Secretary of India from 29 January 2020 to 30 April 2022[5][6] He previously served as the Ambassador of India to the United States of America, Ambassador to Thailand and High Commissioner to Bangladesh.[7][8][9]

Educational background[edit]

Harsh Vardhan Shringla graduated from the St. Stephen's College, Delhi University after being schooled at Mayo College, Ajmer. He worked in the private and public sectors in India prior to joining the Indian Foreign Service. He has published papers on conflict prevention, economic diplomacy, the Indian diaspora, and India-Bangladesh relations.[10]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Ambassador Shringla joined the IFS in 1984 and in the course of a diplomatic career spanning over 35 years, he has held a variety of positions in the Ministry of External Affairs (India), New Delhi and abroad. He has served as Ambassador of India to the United States, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh and Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Thailand. He has also served in France (UNESCO); India's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York; Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City); Israel and South Africa (Durban).[11]

Ambassador Shringla has served in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi as Joint Secretary (Director General) responsible for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives. He has also headed the United Nations Political and SAARC Divisions in the Ministry. Earlier, he served as Director of the Northern Division dealing with Nepal and Bhutan and as Deputy Secretary of the Europe West Division.[11]

Ambassador of India to Thailand[edit]

Ambassador Shringla went on his first Ambassadorial assignment to the Kingdom of Thailand and served for two years from January 2014 to January 2016. During his tenure, a number of initiatives between India and Thailand in the political, security, economic and cultural domains brought the two countries closer.[12]

High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh[edit]

Ambassador Shringla served with distinction as High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh from January 2016 to January 2019. During his time in Bangladesh, the bilateral relationship between India and Bangladesh witnessed huge strides forward.[13] Ambassador Shringla played a pivotal role in the successful visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh to India in April 2017 adding a new chapter to strengthening the bilateral relationship, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as heralding of a ‘Sonali Adhyay’ or a Golden Era in the bilateral ties.[14] As co-chair of the India-Bangladesh Joint Boundary Working Group[15] Ambassador Shringla has been credited with finalizing the contours of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh.[16]

Ambassador of India to the United States[edit]

Ambassador Shringla assumed charge as Indian Ambassador to the United States on 9 January 2019 at the age of 55 years making him the youngest Ambassador of India to the United States. He presented his credentials to the President of the United States Donald Trump on 11 January 2019, just two days after his arrival.[17] On 7 February 2019, he received a rousing welcome at the Congressional Reception hosted by the Senate India Caucus and Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans which was attended by an unprecedented 67 Members of the US Congress, including Senators.[18]

In a short but intense period of just one year, Ambassador Shringla exponentially expanded the Embassy's outreach to the US Congress, the Indian-American community, Indian students in the US, think-tanks, pushed for a whole of government approach in the India-US trade talks and significantly raised the visibility of the India growth story beyond Washington DC in the United States.[19]

A focused outreach in Congress was a central prong of this outreach - Ambassador Shringla personally met with 160 Members of Congress.[20] He addressed and interacted with members of all major think-tanks in Washington DC including the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, Brookings, Atlantic Council, Center for American Progress.[21]

Ambassador Shringla's attention to the issues faced by the Indian student community in the US was drawn soon after his arrival in the wake of the Farmington University crisis. With 129 students arrested and detained, Shringla working along with the Embassy team and the Consulates ensured consular access to each and every detained student and all students were either released or allowed to go back to India within about a month.[22] At the same time, to prevent such incidents from recurring, a detailed press release was issued in India and in the US to raise awareness among the Indian student community about the risks of being entrapped in fake universities. Ambassador Shringla was a strong advocate on the issue of visas for high-skilled professionals, raising the issue with relevant US lawmakers and administration agencies to highlight the contributions of Indian professionals to the competitiveness of US companies facing a STEM skills shortage.[19] In his travel across 21 US states, Ambassador Shringla made a concerted effort to reach out to students. In separate visits, he addressed about 300 students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, at the Harvard Kennedy School, at Georgetown University and hosted Indian students at the Embassy for a "chai and chat" session. He also addressed Indian students in various US universities over video-link.[23]

The biggest event undoubtedly was Howdy Modi in Houston on 22 September 2019 where Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi was joined by the President of the United States Donald J. Trump to jointly address a gathering of over 50,000 Indian-Americans and 22 Members of US Congress, Senators and Governors, making it the largest event for a foreign Head of Government visiting the United States.[24] The event was a crowning moment of an extremely successful visit by the Prime Minister of India to the United States during which he was awarded the Global Goalkeeper Award by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in recognition for the Swachh Bharat mission and was keynote speaker at the Bloomberg business event.[25] He also had a productive bilateral meeting with President Trump in New York.[26] The Prime Minister's meeting with top American energy sector CEOs in Houston also shone a light on the rapid progress being made in energy cooperation between India and the United States. India is now importing nearly $6 billion worth of oil and natural gas and imports are slated to increase to $8 billion in 2020.[27]  

The booming energy relationship also contributed to reducing the trade imbalance and finding a mutually beneficial understanding of trade issues - a priority that he worked on actively during his tenure. His approach on strengthening trade and economic ties has been coordinating a whole of government approach in Delhi and taking the trade and investment potential conversation beyond Washington DC in the United States. For instance, to address the ground handling issue that had been simmering for some time, Shringla helped fast track inter-ministerial discussions in Delhi to find a solution. In each of the 21 US states he visited, priority was accorded to engage with business chambers and companies - Indian companies with a presence in the US and American companies invested or inclined to invest in India. In Denver, Colorado he addressed 150 senior US State trade development officers at the State International Development Organization (SIDO) Conference on US-India Trade and Investment Ties where he emphasized the growing economic relationship between the US and India and stated that 14 different US states and counties had opened trade offices in India.[28]

In another event in Washington, DC hosted by the Wilson Center in Partnership with NASSCOM, he highlighted the contributions made by Indian companies in the US in different sectors.[29] In San Francisco, speaking at a panel discussion with the Lt. Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis at the Bay Area Council Pacific Summit on Economic Prosperity in the Century of the Pacific on 21 June 2019, Shringla spoke at length about the business opportunities in a rising India and urged the Governor to lead a business delegation to India as well as open a trade office in India.[30] Lt. Governor Kounalakis led a trade delegation to India in January 2020. In 2019, 4 Governors led trade delegations to India, including the Governors of Indiana, New Jersey, Colorado, and Arkansas. The Governor of Delaware is expected to lead a trade delegation to India.[31]

Shringla continued the focus on the steadily strengthening India-US defense ties.[32] The comprehensive Joint Statement issued at the 2+2 Dialogue held in Washington DC on 18 December 2019, reflected the significant progress made over a short span of time.[33][34] Bidding farewell to Shringla at the historic Blair House in DC, US envoy and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells praised him for his work and said, "we are going to have a captain of the relationship and somebody who will be committed to doing the delicate work that needs to be done to stitch two very important countries together".[35][36] On his last day in US, Shringla had a farewell call on President Donal Trump.[37] On 12 January 2020, he left for India, completing his assignment in the United States on a very high note meeting over 160 lawmakers, visiting 21 US states and bringing a new energy to the India-US relations during his eventful one-year stint as Ambassador of India to the United States.[38][39]

While Ambassador, Shringla was reported to have worked with the lobbying firm Cornerstone to prevent the passage of a resolution condemning the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.[40]

Foreign Secretary of India[edit]

Shringla speaking on GU India Initiative on April 23, 2019, at the Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

On 29 January 2020, Shringla assumed the charge of Foreign Secretary of India as the 33rd Foreign Secretary. While addressing media ahead of taking charge, Shringla acknowledged the responsibilities and challenges that come with it and added that he will work under the leadership of Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of India for a more secure and prosperous India.[41] Shringla facilitated the signing of 28 investment pacts between Russia and India in December 2021. These deals included the delivery of long range S-400 air-to-surface missiles produced by Russia, which triggered questions on the possibility of U.S. sanctions on India after some speculated that these acts could be a potentially applicable to the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.[42]

In December 2021, Shringla visited Myanmar and emphasized India's interest in seeing Myanmar's return to democracy at the earliest; release of detainees and prisoners; resolution of issues through dialogue and complete cessation of all violence in relation to the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état.[43]

Ambassador Shringla speaks with Secretary Biegun in New Delhi, India on 15th October 2020

On April 4, 2022 it was announced that he will be succeeded by diplomat Vinay Mohan Kwatra as the 34th Foreign Secretary of India upon his superannuation of the post.[44] Shringla has been appointed India's Chief G20 Coordinator, as India will take over the G20 presidency in December 2022 and host the G20 Summit in 2023.[45]

Publications[edit]

Shringla has written extensively on a number of topics such as international economy, climate change, preventive diplomacy and India-US bilateral relations, including The United Nations and Conflict Prevention: Balance Between Sovereignty and Action (Indian Journal of International Law)[46] and Project Granite at the New International Airport in Israel (CUTS International, 2011).[47]

Shringla has actively contributed articles in some of the most popular international newspapers and magazines on a diverse range of topics including an Op-ed piece in The New York Times, India Is Building a More Prosperous Kashmir giving the context and objectives of India's decision to abrogate the temporary Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.[48] The article and other public statements by him were, per his role, both in anticipation of and in response to concern expressed by other states, including Pakistan.[49][50]

As Foreign Secretary of India, he has written extensively on India's response to COVID-19, including an article titled India is a constructive, dependable actor globally in India's national daily, Hindustan Times in which he argued that India's handling of the COVID crisis has been a positive one, especially in comparison to many other large countries.[51]

Personal life[edit]

Ambassador Shringla is an avid reader and sports enthusiast, with an interest in mountaineering and hockey. He had been on a number of mountain expeditions including to Everest Base Camp, Friendship Peak in Himachal Pradesh. He was a liaison officer for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in 1996. He represented St. Stephen's College, Delhi in hockey at inter-college and other tournaments and received College Colors for this.[11]

Shringla was born in Mumbai, to a Buddhist Sikkimese father and a Hindu mother. His father was also part of the Indian civil service.[52] He speaks French, Vietnamese and Nepali apart from English and other Indian languages.[52] He is married to Mrs. Hemal Shringla and has one son.[11]

His surname, Shringla is a birth record misspelling of Tshering la, his father's surname.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • He was awarded the JT Gibson Award for Outstanding Alumni by Mayo College, Ajmer in 2017 for his distinguished career and impeccable service to his country.[53]
  • The ICFAI University, Sikkim bestowed on him a D. Litt Honoris Causa Honorary Doctorate degree on 9 September 2019 for mastering nuances of the diplomacy and helping the reputation of his nation.[54]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Indian envoy to United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla will be the next Foreign Secretary". The Economics Times.
  2. ^ "Vinay Kwatra is new Foreign Secretary, Harsh Shringla coordinator for 2023 G-20". Hindustan Times. 4 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Riva Ganguly Das appointed as the next HCI to Bangladesh". Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Riva Ganguly Das Named HCI To Bangladesh". NDTV. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Vinay Mohan Kwatra will be succeeding Harsh Vardhan Shringla as India's new Foreign Secretary when he retires". Deccan Herald. 4 April 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  6. ^ "Vinay Mohan Kwatra to replace Harsh Vardhan Shringla as Foreign Secy". Business Today. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Harsh Vardhan Shringla appointed new Foreign Secretary of India". The Times of India. 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Harsh Vardhan Shringla appointed new Indian Ambassador to US". Business Line. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  9. ^ Harsh V Shringla, India's new Abmassadir to Thailand Ministry of External Affairs of India, 29 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian Ambassador to the United States". Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d "Harsh V Shringla, Indian Ambassador to the United States". Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Embassy of India in Bangkok". 8 August 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Harsh Vardhan Shringla, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh". 7 March 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  14. ^ "ET Analysis: Indo-Bangla relations enjoy golden period". The Economic Times. 8 October 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Meeting of India-Bangladesh Joint Boundary Working Group". 11 November 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Harsh Vardhan Shringla is new Indian envoy in Bangladesh". The Economic Times. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Press Release - Ambassador Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla presented his Credentials to U. S. President Mr. Donald Trump". 11 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  18. ^ "67 US lawmakers show up at Hill reception for new Indian ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla". Hindustan Times. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Harsh Vardhan Shringla interview – India's suave diplomat". News India Times. 5 April 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  20. ^ "India has received "fullest" support from the US on Kashmir issue". The Economic Times. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  21. ^ "US media showing one-sided perspective on Kashmir pushed by those inimical to Indian interests, says Harsh Vardhan Shringla". First Post. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Indian Embassy Opens Hotline For 129 Students Detained in the US". NDTV. 2 February 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Driving Innovation: Technology and India's Rise as a Global Power". 10 October 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  24. ^ "How Modi weaved magic in Houston". 25 September 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  25. ^ "How Modi Attracted 50000 in Houston". The Washington Post. 29 September 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Trump and Modi Combine Road Show for a Raucous Rally in Houston". The Wall Street Journal. 22 September 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  27. ^ "PM Modi Holds Meeting With Energy Sectors CEOs in US". 22 September 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Embassy of India". Embassy of India Official Website. 19 September 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Ambassador Shringla's Remark at Wilson Center". Embassy of India Official Website. 23 July 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  30. ^ "Indian Ambassador Shringla meets California Governor Newsom, they discuss trade & tariff issues". Indica News. 22 June 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  31. ^ "Governors of five U.S. states to visit India over next few months". India Abroad News. 8 September 2019. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  32. ^ "Highlights of 2019 U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue". US Government. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  33. ^ "2+2 Dialogue provides forward-looking vision for India-US strategic partnership". India Today. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  34. ^ "Joint Statement 2+2 India-US Dialogue". Ministry of External Affairs, India. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  35. ^ "US diplomat describes outgoing envoy Harsha Vardhan Shringla as Captain of India-US relationship". Business Standard. 11 January 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  36. ^ "Outgoing Indian envoy to US Harsh Vardhan Shringla meets President Donald Trump". Economics Times. 11 January 2020. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  37. ^ "Shringla Paid A Farewell Call on President Trump". The Hindu. 13 January 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  38. ^ "Ambassador Shringla Remembered As People's Ambassador". Business Standard. 18 January 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  39. ^ "Ambassador Shringla To Start His New Role As 33rd FS Soon". Yahoo News. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  40. ^ "India Lobbies to Stifle Criticism, Control Messaging in U.S. Congress Amid Rising Anti-Muslim Violence". 16 March 2020.
  41. ^ "Ambassador Shringla Takes Charge As 33rd FS". Business Line. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  42. ^ "Will India get a CAATSA exemption?". Hindustan Times. 19 November 2021. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  43. ^ Bhattacherjee, Kallol (24 December 2021). "India seeks early return of democracy in Myanmar". The Hindu.
  44. ^ "Vinay Mohan Kwatra announced as the new foreign secretary". Hindustan Times. 4 April 2022.
  45. ^ "Harsh V Shringla is G20 chief coordinator". The Economic Times. 10 April 2022.
  46. ^ Shringla, Harsh Vardhan. "The United Nations and Conflict Prevention: Balance Between Sovereignty and Action" (PDF). Indian Journal of International Law. 46 (1): 429–445. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  47. ^ Rana, Kishan S; Chatterjee, Bipul (2011). Economic Diplomacy: India's Experience. Jaipur: CUTS International. pp. 79, 84. ISBN 978-81-8257-139-6.
  48. ^ Shringla, Harsh Vardhan (19 September 2019). "India Is Building a More Prosperous Kashmir". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  49. ^ Khan, Imran (30 August 2019). "The World can't Ignore Kashmir. We Are All In Danger". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  50. ^ Shringla, Harsh Vardhan (17 October 2019). "Indian ambassador briefs US lawmakers on Kashmir". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  51. ^ Shringla, Harsh Vardhan (10 August 2020). "India is a constructive, dependable actor globally, writes Harsh Vardhan Shringla". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  52. ^ a b "Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has overcome challenges pragmatically". The Indian Express. 29 January 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  53. ^ "Remembering Jack Gibson". 1 January 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  54. ^ "Ambassador Harsh V Shringla's acceptance speech on receiving Honorary Doctorate". 9 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Indian Ambassador to Thailand
2014–2016
Succeeded by
Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi
Preceded by Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh
2016–2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by Indian Ambassador to the United States
2019-2020
Succeeded by
Preceded by Foreign Secretary of India
2020–2022
Succeeded by