Saturday, January 31, 2015

A letter that describes what metal career diplomats really are( courtesy The Economic Times )

NEW DELHI: S Jaishankar, India's envoy to the US, was appointed the new foreign secretaryon Wednesday night replacing Sujatha Singh who had six more months to go.

A press release issued late on Wednesday said that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved curtailment of tenure of Sujatha Singh with immediate effect and appointment of Jaishankar for two years from the date of his take over or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

Sujatha Singh, who was India's ambassador to Germany, took over as Foreign Secretary on July 31, 2013, when the UPA led by Manmohan Singh was in power.

Below is the full text of Sujatha Singh'sfarewell letter: 

Dear Colleagues, 

I have today sought early retirement from Government service. 

My life as a civil servant in the service of India, both overseas and in India, has given me the opportunity to serve not just the Government of India but the people of India and the idea of India that we have had the honour to represent as professional diplomats - the largest democracy in the world, teeming, vibrant, resonant with all its diversities, cultures, languages and civilisational splendour. A democracy that demands patience in untangling the mysterious ways it works, a system that infuriates more often than not, but a system that surprisingly also delivers, more often than not, because of the people who hold it up, the people who make it run. 

I believe that civil servants are among the millions of people who work towards enabling India to deliver, who work towards enabling India to realise its enormous potential, who assist fellow Indians in realising their aspirations. Not all civil servants perhaps, but some of us certainly, and among them I count the Indian Foreign Service as amongst, if not the best in terms of professionalism, in terms of competence and in terms of sheer dedication and world view. Like any other civil service or indeed profession, we have our shortcomings. But what we do possess in the Ministry of External Affairs are great institutional strengths, strengths that we have consistently built on over the years and that keep MEA in the vanguard of change in GOL It is this inherent strength that has enabled MEAto rise consistently to the challenges presented to us - to prepare, to organise, to deliver and to follow up, on what has perhaps been the most charged, and indeed the most successful, calendar of any new Government's post election foreign engagements. 

I believe that the Foreign Secretary, as Head of this Service and the senior-most civil servant in the Ministry, plays a critical role in being the main point of interface with the political leadership, in giving objective advice that takes into account India's foreign policy interests over all connected and interlinked aspects. 

While individuals can and do play a critical role in building institutions, I believe that no individual is larger than the institution. It can never be about individuals. It has to be about institutions and how institutions interface and coordinate with each other. 

Colleagues, it has been my privilege to have served over 38 years in the Indian Foreign Service, and a particular privilege to have served as Foreign Secretary over the past 18 months, leading the remarkable women and men who work selflessly, at all levels of MEA,to advance India's interests abroad. I will continue to cherish this sense of pride for the rest of my life.

Best wishes, 

Yours sincerely, 

(Sujatha Singh)

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