Nirupama Rao

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Nirupama Rao
Nirupama Rao.jpg
Indian Ambassador to the United States
In office
1 August 2011 – 5 November 2013
Preceded by Meera Shankar
Succeeded by S Jaishankar
Indian Foreign Secretary
In office
31 July 2009 – 31 July 2011
Preceded by Shivshankar Menon
Succeeded by Ranjan Mathai
Personal details
Born (1950-12-06) 6 December 1950 (age 64)
Malappuram, Kerala, India
Nationality Indian
Occupation Diplomat

Nirupama Menon Rao (born 6 December 1950) is a 1973 batch Indian Foreign Service officer and was Indian Ambassador to the United States . Prior to this assignment, she had served as the Foreign Secretary of India for a period of 2 years.

In July 2009, she became the second woman (after Chokila Iyer) to hold the post of Indian Foreign Secretary, the head of the Indian Foreign Service. In her career she has served in several capacities including, Minister of Press Affairs in Washington, Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow, stints in the Ministry of External Affairs as Joint Secretary (East Asia), (External Publicity) making her the first woman spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry, Chief of Personnel, Ambassador to Peru and China, and High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Nirupama Rao was born in Malappuram, Kerala. Her father was in the Indian Army. She did her schooling from various cities like Bangalore, Pune, Lucknow, Coonoor. She did her BA (English) Honors in Mount Carmel College, in Bangalore, in 1970,[3] when it was affiliated with the Bangalore University. Later, she obtained her Masters degree in English Literature from what was then known as Marathwada University in Maharashtra. She topped the All India Civil Services Examination in 1973 and joined the Indian Foreign Service.[2]


Nirupama Rao with Xinjiang Medical University President Halmurat Wupur

On completion of her training in India, she served in the Indian Embassy in Vienna (Austria) in the mid seventies. She served as First Secretary in the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka from 1981-83. During her early years in the Ministry of External Affairs, she specialized in India's relations with China, and was a member of the delegation of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when he made his historic visit to Beijing in December 1988.

Rao was a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University in 1992-93 where she specialized on Asia-Pacific Security.

She served in the Indian Embassies in Washington and Moscow as Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, respectively. Her first Ambassadorship was to Peru with concurrent accreditation to Bolivia in 1995-1998. She became the first woman spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs in 2001. She was assigned to Sri Lanka as High Commissioner for India in 2004. In 2006, she became India's first woman Ambassador to China. She became India's Foreign Secretary, succeeding Shivshankar Menon, on 1 August 2009.

On 21 December 2010, Indian Government approved extension of Nirupama Rao tenure as India's Foreign Secretary till 31 July 2011.[4]

Her work was very much appreciated during the evacuation of Indians at the time of the Libyan crisis. Among others, she used her Twitter account () to regularly update the public about the evacuation. As of January 2015, she has over 290,000 followers on Twitter. She was appointed as Ambassador of India to the USA after completion of her tenure as Foreign Secretary.[5]

Ambassador Rao was conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the Pondicherry University at their Convocation in May 2012. She has also been named to the global list of the One Hundred Most Influential Women on Twitter by Foreign

Writing career[edit]

She has written a book of poetry, named Rain Rising.[6] Her poems have been translated into Chinese and Russian. A Malayalam translation of her book "Rain Rising" was released by Calicut University in June 2013.

On the completion of her tenure as Ambassador of India to the United States in November 2013, Brown University announced that Nirupama Rao would be the Meera and Vikram Gandhi Fellow in residence at the University during 2014. She will be engaged in research and writing on select foreign policy issues during this period. She has since completed her fellowship at Brown University.

In November 2014, the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi announced the conferment of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship on Nirupama Rao in connection with her book project (currently in writing) entitled "The Politics of History: India and China, 1949 to 1962". The book will be a diplomatic/political history of the relations between India and China in the crucial decade leading to the brief border-related conflict of 1962.

See Also[edit]


External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Meera Shankar
Indian Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
S Jaishankar