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PM Modi & Jaishankar: Choice, coincidences and chemistry

By IndianMandarins- 03 Jun 2019


Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (Retd IFS:1977), former External Affairs Secretary and a Padma Shri awardee, has brought quite a surprising element to NaMo Govt 2.0. In the past too he has been kicking off one surprise after the other. So a look at Jaishankar’s journey through the events that led to the peak of a career that is simply incredible:


First and foremost, he was the first choice of former PM Dr Manmohan Singh for the top job of India’s Ambassador to US (during civil nuke deal). When Narendra Modi took over, Jaishankar became the first choice of PM for Foreign Secretary. People in power corridors are abuzz of Jaishankar’s competence, contributions, attributes and ascent that more than once turned the choice to him irrespective of the change in political leadership of the country.


And there are yet a few more interesting coincidences:   


Jaishankar first displaced Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh (SS) to occupy the coveted post and later stepped into the shoes of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj (SS). Thus, he replaced one lady after the other and both have the initials SS – a strange coincidence.


Soon after he was announced to be part of Modi Cabinet news reports referred to him as retired Foreign Secretary. Most reporters forgot that he had joined the Tatas only few days after his superannuation. His entry to the top business house virtually laid a new precedent. And it is akin to the practice of revolving door which is common in the US. He was a Tata man for 18 months before becoming Minister; a new sort of lateral entry into the Cabinet? 


Jaishankar’s coming to the political executive is like that of Manmohan Singh when he suddenly became FM. Singh also went on to become PM. So who can say what is in store in case of Jaishankar?


Leave this aside for a moment and look at PM Modi’s spiritual connection with Shankar. The PM has twice been elected from Varanasi, the holy land of Shankar or Baba Vishwanath. During Modi 1.0 (beginning from 2014) Jaishankar became FS and in the second term of the PM the then FS has been made Minister for External Affairs. Isn’t the chemistry incredible?

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