The new year will see a number of key appointments in the foreign ministry amid a strong buzz that Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar may get an extension before the end of his term next month.
Vikas Swarup, Additional Secretary and Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry, is also on his way to Canada as High Commissioner and is only waiting for his official agreement to come from Ottawa which is likely by mid of next month. The post is lying vacant after Vishnu Prakash retired in October.
Swarup is expected to be replaced by Gopal Baglay, currently looking after (Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan) in the ministry. Baglay has earlier also had a stint in the XP division of the MEA as Director from 2008 to 2010.
Speculation is also rife that Jaishankar will get an extension before his two-year term ends on 28 of next month.
It also remains to be seen what will be the tenure of his extension.
If Jaishankar, a 1977-IFS batch officer, gets an extension for more than a year, by then many senior diplomats including India’s ambassador to Italy Anil Wadhwa (1979-batch) and Secretary (West) Sujata Mehta (1980-batch) will retire.
India’s ambassador to China, Vijay Gokhale, seen as one of the main contenders to replace Jaishankar, is retiring in the end of January 2019. If Jaishankar gets a two-year term, it will be unprecedented as no one has got an extension after the fixed tenure of two years.
However, Jaishankar’s possible two-year term will leave Gokhale with couple of days.