03 August, 2021

Songbird And Stage

Nirupama Rao takes over as foreign secretary

Songbird And Stage
As the story goes, those women destined for the top fervently believe in their talent, believe they can overcome the glass ceiling society imposes on the ‘second sex’. It’s true of India’s foreign secretary-designate, Nirupama Rao, too. As the first woman spokesperson of the foreign ministry in 2001, she had a painting on her office wall that solemnly declared: "Women hold up half the sky." India has had a woman foreign secretary (Chokila Iyer in 2001) before, but Rao, apart from being the only woman spokesperson ever, boasts of other firsts—the first lady high commissioner to Sri Lanka; the first lady ambassador to China.

Considered the frontrunner in the race to become foreign secretary, Rao received a call in Beijing on Tuesday evening from Shivshankar Menon (she takes over the baton from him on August 1), conveying to her the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Appointments. "I’m delighted and very happy with the news of my appointment as foreign secretary," Rao, 58, told Outlook from Beijing. "I’m also aware of the...

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