India is set to get a new permanent representative to the United Nations as the current envoy, Syed Akbaruddin, is to retire soon. As per sources, TS Tirumurti, currently Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), is to be appointed as the next ambassador to the UN, based in New York.

About TS Tirumurti

TS Tirumurti joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1985. His previous diplomatic assignments include postings in Cairo, the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva, the Representative of India in Gaza, Washington D.C, Deputy Chief of Mission in Jakarta and High Commissioner in Malaysia. He has also served as Under Secretary (Bhutan), Director (Foreign Secretary’s Office), Joint Secretary (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives) and Joint Secretary (United Nations Economic and Social) during his stints at the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi. Tirumurti assumed his current assignment as the Secretary (Economic Relations) on February 5, 2018.

Syed Akbaruddin: A Man of Many Accomplishments

Syed Akbaruddin has had an illustrious tenure at the UN. The Indian ambassador gained particular fame after his efforts led to the proscribing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, and with his outspoken and taking-on-all-comers approach to block China and Pakistan's attempt to raise the Kashmir issue at United Nations after the abrogation of Article 370.

Syed Akbaruddin's strong representation of India thwarted China's plan of raking up Kashmir issue at United Nations Security Council (UNSC) at Pakistan's behest. Except for Pakistan's all-weather friend China, the rest of the four permanent nations the US, the UK, France and Russia, supported India stating that Kashmir remains a bilateral issue and an integral territory of India. 

It was during Syed Akbaruddin's tenure that India created history at the United Nations in 2017 by winning a fiercely-fought electoral contest against its former colonial ruler Britain for the re-election of Justice Dalveer Bhandari at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. India’s victory had made global headlines since it was the first time in decades that a permanent member of the UN Security Council (the P-5 club) had been forced to fall back by a non-P5 member.

India is set to become a non-permanent member at the UNSC for a two-year term 2021-22. Each year the 193-member General Assembly elects five non-permanent members for a two-year term at the UN high-table. India’s candidature received unanimous endorsement by Asia-Pacific group. The non-permanent seat is particularly significant given that Pakistan and China, both countries with which India has had diplomatic challenges at the UN, supported the move. However, significant work remains with regards to the United Nations. India has been foremost in seeking an overhaul and reform in the world body, with the pitch set to increase given the COVID pandemic.