A day after the government said that her tenure as Foreign Secretary has been “curtailed”, Sujatha Singh today claimed that she had actually sought early retirement and underlined that no individual is larger that the institution.
Singh, who was in effect sacked late last night seven months before her two years tenure was to end, has sent a farewell email to her colleagues in foreign service which makes no reference to the abrupt end to her service.
S Jaishankar, Ambassador to the US, was appointed as the new Foreign Secretary in a surprise decision by the Union Cabinet’s Appointment Committee, which is headed by the Prime Minister. The sacking of Singh has come under criticism from Congress.
In her e-mail dated January 28, Singh said that she had sought early retirement from the government service after 38 years. She, in her farewell message, speaks glowingly about the foreign 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,” Singh said in her e-mail.
Recalling her years in the foreign service, she said it has been her 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 and that she “will continue to cherish this sense of pride for the rest of my life”.
“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 Government of India.
“It is this inherent strength that has enabled MEA to 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,” the e-mail further read.