India’s High Commissioner to Britain Navtej Sarna has been appointed as the next Ambassador to the United States of America which is gearing up for a presidential transition. An Indian foreign service officer of 1980 batch, Sarna will replace Arun Kumar Singh, who retired in August end. Both Sarna and Singh have previously been India’s ambassadors to Israel.
Sarna was transferred to London as the High Commissioner eight months back.Before moving to London, Sarna was Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs where he oversaw the successful hosting last October of the India-Africa Forum Summit that was attended by a record number of 53 African countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally very happy with the organisation of the Summit and had congratulated External Affairs Sushma Swaraj for it.
With Sarna’s appointment as an ambassador to the US, it is clear that PM Modi wanted someone in Washington he was confident would be able to steer the multi-faceted India-US relations into a new phase with a new administration.Sarna was among the longest-serving spokespersons of the ministry between 2002 and 2008. He has also had postings in Moscow, Warsaw, Tehran, Geneva and Thimphu.
The IFS officer had completed Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Law courses from Delhi University. He had also done a diploma in Journalism. Sarna joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1980.
Sarna is also a prolific author of many fictions and non-fiction books. According to a Sarna’s website (www.navtejsarna.in), he is the author of novels: ‘We Weren’t Lovers Like That’ (Penguin India, 2003) and ‘The Exile’ (Penguin India, 2008) as well as the short story collection ‘Winter Evenings’ (Rainlight Rupa, 2012). His non-fiction works are ‘The Book of Nanak’ (Penguin India, 2003), ‘Folktales of Poland’ (Sterling 1991) and ‘Indians at Herod’s Gate’ (Rainlight Rupa, 2014). He has translated Guru Gobind Singh’s ‘Zafarnama’ (Penguin India 2011) from Persian to English as well as the Punjabi partition stories of Mohinder Singh Sarna in ‘Savage Harvest’ (Rupa, 2013). He has been contributing regularly to journals and newspapers in India and abroad including The Times Literary Supplement, London Magazine, The Hindu, India Today, Outlook and so on.
Sharma’s most recent work as a writer was ‘Second Thoughts: On Books, Authors and the Writerly Life’ that was released last year. He was a big hit in London’s literary circles and had also become, in a short span, a popular figure in the Indian community in the Britain. The author-diplomat can speak English, Hindi and Punjabi. He also knows Russian and Polish. Married to Dr Avina Sarna, the diplomat has a son and a daughter.
(Inputs from IANS)