Vinay Kwatra takes over as foreign secretary, Naveen Srivastava tipped for envoy to Nepal
Naveen Srivastava, presently Additional Secretary, handling the East Asia desk in Ministry of External Affairs, is the man who has been an integral part of India-China military commanders meeting to defuse the situation in East Ladakh after PLA transgressed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in May 2020.
With Vinay Mohan Kwatra taking over as India’s 34th Foreign Secretary today, China expert Naveen Srivastava is tipped to succeed Kwatra as India’s next ambassador to Nepal.
Srivastava, presently Additional Secretary, handling the East Asia desk in Ministry of External Affairs is the man who has been an integral part of India-China military commanders meeting to defuse the situation in East Ladakh after PLA transgressed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in May 2020.
While Srivastava, a 1993 batch IFS officer, will be handle the sensitive relations with Nepal, there is very strong possibility of his batchmate Sudhakar Dalela, presently Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, to be appointed as Ambassador to Bhutan with incumbent Ruchira Kamboj expected to take over as India’s permanent envoy to UN after incumbent T S Tirumurti attains superannuation in June 2022.
Dalela has handled Bhutan as desk-incharge in the MEA before being posted to Washington and was the man who fought the diplomatic battle during the 2017 Doklam crisis precipitated by an aggressive PLA in tri-junction area on the Siliguri corridor.
Although the Modi government is still to take a call on key ambassadorial postings, it is expected that India’s ambassador to Japan Sanjay Kumar Verma will proceed to Canada to replace Ajay Bisaria after the latter attains superannuation. There is no word or decision on who will replace Indian envoy to UK Gaitri Issar Kumar, who also retires in June 2022 as the Modi government is said to be examining options outside the MEA.
Given the Chinese Communist Party influence on Nepalese polity through power and pelf, Srivastava will have a tough time countering the narrative from Beijing with the Himalayan Republic playing on both sides for optimum advantage. However, the Chinese grip on Kathmandu has loosened after the appointment of Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister and the split within the Maoist-Communist movement in the Himalayan Republic during the time when Vinay Kwatra was ambassador to Nepal.