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S Jaishankar is the new foreign minister, will replace Sushma Swaraj

File photo: Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Photograph:( IANS )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India May 31, 2019, 12.53 PM (IST)

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, surprise pick in the new Narendra Modi government, will take over as the foreign minister of the country. Jaishankar, former foreign secretary, took oath along with 56 other ministers at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President House) on Thursday. He is the first career diplomat to handle the key portfolio.

The high-profile foreign affairs porfolio was handled by Sushma Swaraj who refused to be part of the new dispensation due to health issues. He is among the first time ministers who took oath on Thursday.

Considered an expert on China and the US, the new External Affairs minister's moves will be keenly watched to see whether he brings any changes in India's approach in dealing with Pakistan.

Jaishankar is a seasoned diplomat who was the Indian government's pointsman for China and the US. He is the son of late K Subrahmanyam, one of India's leading strategic analysts, and a key member of the Indian team which negotiated the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal.

The deal, initiated in 2005, took several years to craft and was signed by the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh in 2007.

One of the longest-serving foreign secretaries, Jaishankar played a key role in shaping Modi's foreign policy during his first term, which saw significant growth and expansion of India's ties with key countries, particularly the US and the Arab nations. He will also have to deal with overall expectations of expanding India's global influence and stature, particularly in key multilateral forums like G-20, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS.

The 64-year-old - who is not a member of either the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha at this point - is also likely to push for deepening cooperation with the African continent where China is fast expanding its influence and presence.

Watch: Amit Shah, S Jaishankar PM Narendra Modi's surprise pick

He was the Foreign Secretary from January 2015 to January 2018. Jaishankar takes charge of the ministry nearly 16 months after he retired as foreign secretary.

He had earlier served as India's Ambassador to the US and before that to China.

A 1977-batch IFS officer, Jaishankar played a key role in resolving the crisis following the incursion in Ladakh's Depsang and the Doklam stand-off, handling the tough negotiations with Beijing.

Among other positions, Jaishankar has been India's High Commissioner to Singapore and Ambassador to the Czech Republic.

A graduate of St Stephen's College, Jaishankar is an MA in Political Science and an MPhil and PhD in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Jaishankar is married to Kyoko Jaishankar and has two sons and a daughter.

In 2019, Jaishankar was conferred with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of the country.

(With inputs from agencies)

Story highlights

The high-profile foreign affairs porfolio was handled by Sushma Swaraj who refused to be part of the new dispensation due to health issues. He is among the first time ministers who took oath on Thursday.