indica News Bureau –
Harsh Vardhan Shringla, a 1984-batch Foreign Service diplomat, has been appointed next Indian envoy to the United States.
Shringla, who will be the 27th ambassador of India to the United States, succeeds Navtej Sarna, who is due to retire this month.
“He is expected to take up the assignment shortly,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in its statement released on December 20.
Shringla’s appointment coincides with the stepping down of US Defense Secretary James Mattis over policy differences with the Trump administration.
A graduate of St Stephen’s College in New Delhi, Shringla is presently posted in Bangladesh as India’s High Commissioner. His position will be taken over by senior diplomat Riva Ganguly Das, who has served as Director General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
Shringla has also been the Indian Ambassador to Thailand and has held similar portfolios for the past 34 years. He has also worked at UNESCO in France and the United Nations in New York.
At the Ministry of External Affairs, he has worked as a Joint Secretary responsible for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives.
Shringla’s appointment comes at a time when US-India relations have been on an upward trajectory, following the 2+2 dialogue and signing of the long-pending Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.
“Today, I think the relationship is in a very good place,” outgoing Indian ambassador to US, Sarna, told a select audience in Washington earlier this month. He received a fond farewell on December 13 at an event hosted by the State Department and held at the Blair House in Washington, DC.
The recent meetings between the defense ministers of the two countries, along with other high-level exchanges, speak volumes about positivity in bilateral ties as well as their mutual desire to work closely on a range of regional and global issues.
However, Shringla’s appointment also comes at a time when President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda poses several challenges for India, especially the tightening of visa rules and tougher immigration laws by the Trump administration.
The Department of Homeland Security intends to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorization.
The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visas holders, who have work permits.
Also, it remains to be seen how the two major issues of Iranian and Russian sanctions that have become an irritant in the Indo-US relationship, would be sorted out as Shringla takes charge.