Kenneth I Juster is set to be America’s new ambassador to India, according to the White House. Juster, 62, is a top aide of US President Donald Trump. At present the deputy assistant to the US president for International Economic Affairs and deputy director of his National Economic Council, Juster would replace Richard Verma if nominated and confirmed by the US Senate.
“Ken Juster’s move to Indian Ambassador is because he is extremely qualified for the position,” White House deputy spokesperson Lindsay E Walters told PTI. “Ken has a strong and positive relationship with everyone in the White House, including the president,” Walters added.
The decision to move Juster to India has been welcomed by Ashley Telis, who is considered as the top India expert in the US. “Ken (Juster) knows India well and actually was deeply involved in successful bilateral negotiations between the two countries. The Indians will welcome him enthusiastically. He is a known quantity,” Tellis told The Washington Post.
Richard Verma, the first Indian-American to head this position, had resigned when Trump replaced Barack Obama as the President of the US. According to The Post, Juster had reportedly clashed with other senior White House officials on trade and economic issues. The Indian government has also endorsed the appointment.
The Post reports that Juster had served as the US chair of the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group during George W Bush administration. He was also one of the key architects of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership initiative between the US and India. This work had helped form the foundation for the India-US civil nuclear agreement.
In past, Juster served as acting counselor of the State Department in early 1990s and senior adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger from 1989 to 1982, according to The Post.
Juster is a lawyer by training and he has worked as a partner and managing director at Warbus Pincus, a global investment firm from 2010 until joining Trump administration. Juster has a law degree from the Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard College, according to asiafoundation.org.
A report by the Daily Beast claims that Juster has questionable private equity ties. It says that the private equity, Warburg Pincus, firm where Juster worked previously, has been pouring money into Indian companies. According to the report, Warburg Pincus has been “dramatically scaling up its investments in Indian companies.”
Business-Standard reported on Wednesday that Warburg Pincus has “fast-paced” its investment in India. In the last six months, the report says, the private equity firm has invested $1.14 billion in Indian market. This is a huge amount of money in a very short time as compared to the $3.7 billion invested by the firm in India in the last 20 years.
Juster’s appointment is not likely to be confirmed before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US.