Tanjit Singh Sandhu
Tanjit Singh Sandho

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, new ambassador to US, has to do balancing act with strategic ally

Taranjit Singh Sandhu

India’s new ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu

Taranjit Singh Sandhu (IFS:1988), presently High Commissioner of India, Colombo has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the United States of America. He has served as the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka from 2017 and his new appointment comes at a time when New Delhi is trying to balance its strategic and tensed trade ties with the US.

Sandhu will succeed Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who will take charge as the country’s new foreign secretary on Feb 4, Wednesday. His immediate task will be overseeing a visit by US President Donald Trump next month to India, where New Delhi wants to pursue its push for a bilateral trade pact.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu’s appointment also comes at a time when New Delhi is facing criticism from the US Congress where Democrat leader Pramila Jaypal has introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives over Kashmir and taken jibes at the current government over Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Kashmir policy following abrogation of Article 370. The Indian embassy Saturday faced the wrath of protesters over these two issues.

Sandhi, a 1988 IFS batch member, had two stints at the Indian Embassy in Washington DC in the past.  He was Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy of India in Washington D.C. from July 2013 to January 2017. He was First Secretary (Political) at Embassy of India, Washington, D.C. responsible for liaison with the United States Congress from 1997-2000.

He also served as Consul General of India in Frankfurt from September 2011 to July 2013. He served in the Ministry of External Affairs from March 2009 to August 2011, as Joint Secretary (United Nations) and later as Joint Secretary (Administration) heading the Human Resource Division. High Commissioner Sandhu was at the Permanent Mission of India to United Nations, New York from July 2005 to February 2009. Prior to it, he served as the Head of the Political Wing in the High Commission of India, Colombo from December 2000 to September 2004.

In a distinguished career spanning nearly thirty years in the Indian Foreign Service, he worked on various assignments including a three year stint at the Indian embassy in erstwhile Soviet Union (Russia) from 1990 to 1992 as Third Secretary (Political) / Second Secretary (Commercial). Following the breakup of Soviet Union, he was sent to open a new Embassy in Ukraine.

He served as Head of Political and Administration Wings in Indian Embassy in Kiev from 1992 to 1994. On his return to India, he served as Officer on Special Duty (Press Relations), Ministry of External Affairs from 1994 to March 1997. He was responsible for liaison with foreign media in India.

Born on 23 January 1963 in a family of educationists, High Commissioner Sandhu studied at the Lawrence School, Sanawar and graduated with History Honors from St. Stephens’ College, Delhi. He pursued a Masters Degree in International Relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi in 1982-84.

Sandhu is married to Mrs. Reenat Sandhu, who is also an IFS officer and is currently India’s Ambassador to Italy. They have two children.

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