Nirupama Rao took charge as India’s foreign secretary on Saturday morning, the second woman to head India’s foreign service.
Rao succeeded Shivshankar Menon at a brief ceremony in South Block. Chokila Iyer was the first woman to serve as India’s foreign secretary in 2001.
A topper of the 1973 Indian Foreign Service batch, Rao also became the first woman spokesperson of the external affairs ministry in 2001. She then went on become the Indian envoy to Sri Lanka and then China before returning to New Delhi.
In her 36-year-long career, she has served also as ambassador in Peru and deputy chief of mission in Moscow.
Rao’s tenure as foreign secretary will end in December 2010, when she will retire from the foreign service.