Sujatha Singh’s farewell note stresses on MEA’s ‘institutional strength’

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Sujatha Singh, whose service as foreign secretary was “curtailed” seven months before her two-year term was to end, in her farewell letter to colleagues stressed on the “institutional strength” of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) and that “no individual is larger than the institution”.

In a letter dated Jan 28 (Wednesday), she said she is seeking early retirement from government service.
“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,” she said in her e-mail.
Singh said she had been privileged to serve the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) for 38 years.
“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 keeps the MEA in the vanguard of change in GoI (government of India).
“It is this inherent strength that has enabled the MEA to rise consistently to the challenges presented to us – to prepare, to organize, to deliver and to follow up, on what has perhaps been the most changed, and indeed the most successful, calendar of any new government’s post election foreign engagements.”
The government Wednesday night appointed S. Jaishankar, an IFS officer of the 1977 batch, as the new foreign secretary. The cabinet’s Appointments Committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, decided to “curtail the tenure” of Singh “with immediate effect”.
Sujatha Singh, who was one batch senior to Jaishankar, assumed office in August 2013 and was due to retire in August this year. She had taken over as the third woman foreign secretary.
The surprise announcement came a day after US President Barack Obama wound up his three-day state visit during which India and the US saw a breakthrough announcement on the stalled civil nuclear deal.