The administrative rejig in India’s Ministry of External Affairs is described as far reaching by some, even ambitious while others are sceptical. A retired diplomat recalled a similar exercise by a former foreign secretary keen on burnishing his credentials as a thinker and reformer. End result: the IPA Division (Iran, Pakistan Afghanistan) became PAI to reflect physical geography. Whatever other ambitious plans the foreign secretary may have had were thwarted by the bureaucracy around him.
But another senior diplomat said the move towards ‘verticals’ was a good step. Additional secretaries could now oversee regions and sectors as a whole as ‘political directors’. They could develop a vision and broad strategies for these areas while the joint secretaries could take care of the daily nitty-gritty. They would also be responsible for the allotment of work to their joint secretaries and must develop a good working relationship with them.
The foreign secretary may play a key role here and since this has been worked out at the initiative of EAM Jaishankar, he will demand results and insist on accountability which is sometimes seen to be lacking in the ministry.