Vikas Swarup

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Vikas Swarup
Swarup in 2007
Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs
In office
1 December 2019[1] – 30 June 2021
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSubrahmanyam Jaishankar
Preceded byA. Gitesh Sharma
Succeeded byReenat Sandhu
Secretary of Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs[2]
In office
1 August 2019 – 1 December 2019
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSubrahmanyam Jaishankar
Preceded byDnyaneshwar Mulay
Succeeded bySanjay Bhattacharya
High Commissioner of India to Canada
In office
3 March 2017 – 1 August 2019
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSushma Swaraj
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
Preceded byVishnu Prakash[3]
Succeeded byAjay Bisaria[4]
Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs[5][6]
In office
18 April 2015 – 28 February 2017
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSushma Swaraj
Preceded bySyed Akbaruddin
Succeeded byGopal Baglay
Personal details
Born (1961-06-22) 22 June 1961 (age 62)
Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India
Nationality Indian
SpouseAparna Swarup
Alma materUniversity of Allahabad
Known forQ & A (2005)
Six Suspects (2008)
The Accidental Apprentice (2013)

Vikas Swarup (born 22 June 1961)[7] is a retired Indian diplomat and writer. He retired from the Indian Foreign Service as the Secretary (West) at the Ministry of External Affairs, India on 30 June 2021 and has previously served as High Commissioner of India in Canada and has been the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.[8] He was best known as the author of the novel Q & A, adapted in film as Slumdog Millionaire, the winner of Best Film for the year 2009 at the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and BAFTA Awards.

Swarup joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986 and served in Turkey, the United States, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Japan in various Indian diplomatic missions. His other novels are Six Suspects and The Accidental Apprentice. In April 2015, he was appointed as the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India to head its Public Diplomacy divisions at New Delhi, succeeding Syed Akbaruddin.[9]

In December 2019, Swarup took charge as Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, looking after relations with Europe, Central Asia as well as the United Nations system.[10]

Early life and education[edit]

Swarup was born in 1961 in the historic Indian city, Prayagraj in a family of lawyers.[11] He did his schooling at Boys' High School & College, Allahabad and pursued further studies at Allahabad University in Psychology, History and Philosophy.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Swarup is a career diplomat and joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986. He has served in different capacities in New Delhi and in India's missions abroad including his last assignment as High Commissioner of India to Canada followed by the post of the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.[12][13] He also served in Ankara, Washington D.C., Addis Ababa, London, Pretoria and as Consul General in Osaka-Kobe, Japan.

Writing career[edit]

Q & A[edit]

Swarup's debut novel, Q & A, tells the story of how a penniless waiter in Mumbai becomes the biggest quiz show winner in history.[14] Critically acclaimed in India and abroad, this international best-seller has been translated into 43 different languages. It was shortlisted for the Best First Book by the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and won South Africa's Exclusive Books Boeke Prize in 2006, as well as the Prix Grand Public at the 2007 Paris Book Fair. It was voted winner of the Best Travel Read (Fiction) at the Heathrow Travel Product Award 2009.

A BBC radio series based on the book won the Gold Award for Best Drama at the 2008 Sony Radio Academy Awards and the 2008 IVCA Clarion Award. HarperCollins brought out the audio book, read by Kerry Shale, which won the Audie for best fiction audio book of the year. Film4 of the UK had optioned the movie rights and the movie titled Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, was first released in the US to great critical acclaim.[15] It won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and three awards (Best Film, Best Director and Most Promising Newcomer) at the British Independent Film Awards 2008. The National Board of Review picked Slumdog Millionaire as the best film of 2008. The movie swept five awards out of its six nominations at the Critics' Choice Awards, and all four nominations awarded at the Golden Globe Awards including best director, picture, screenplay and score, and seven BAFTA Awards. It received ten Oscar nominations of which it won eight, including Best Picture and Best Director. From The NY Times report: "[T]hough it had no actors nominated for prizes, [it also] swept many awards other than those on the top line, including prizes for cinematography, sound mixing, score and film editing. Slumdog's eight Oscars was the largest total won by a single film since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won 11 in 2004."[16] The film was released in the UK on 9 January 2009 and in India on 23 January with William Losch.

Six Suspects[edit]

Swarup's second novel Six Suspects, published by Transworld, was released on 28 July 2008 and has been translated into more than 30 languages. The US edition was published by Minotaur Books in 2009. It was optioned for a film by the BBC and Starfield productions and John Hodge, who has been commissioned to write the screenplay.

The Accidental Apprentice[edit]

Swarup's third novel is The Accidental Apprentice, published by Simon & Schuster (UK) in 2013.

Other works[edit]

Swarup's short story "A Great Event" was published in The Children's Hours: Stories of Childhood, an anthology of stories about childhood to support Save the Children and raise awareness for its fight to end violence against children.

Swarup has participated in the Oxford Literary Festival, the Turin International Book Fair, the Auckland Writers' Conference, the Sydney Writers' Festival, the Kitab Festival in New Delhi, the St. Malo International Book & Film Festival in France, the 'Words on Water' Literary Festival at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the Jaipur Literature Festival in India, the Hay-on-Wye Festival in Wales and the Franschhoek Literary Festival in South Africa. In 2009 he participated in the 33rd Cairo International Film Festival as a jury member for the International Competition for Feature Digital Films.

He has written for TIME, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph (UK), Outlook magazine (India) and Libération (France).

Vikas Swarup gives many motivational talks at institutions across the world.


On 21 September 2010, the University of South Africa (UNISA) conferred the degree of Doctor of Literature & Philosophy (honoris causa) on Swarup at a graduation ceremony in Pretoria. On June 18, 2020, Montreal-based Concordia University conferred an Honorary Doctorate on Swarup for literary excellence and dedication to diplomacy. On June 16, 2023, Swarup was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.

Swarup took over as the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs on 18 April 2015.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Swarup speaks Turkish apart from English and other Indian languages. He is married to Aparna, an artist, and the couple have two sons.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vikas Swarup appointed Secretary (West) in foreign ministry". The Economic Times.
  2. ^ "Vikas Swarup appointed Secretary of Overseas Indian Affairs". The Hindu Business Line. PTI. 12 July 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  3. ^ "MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup Named High Commissioner to Canada". 16 February 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Ajay Bisaria appointed India's next High Commissioner to Canada". The Times of India. 31 January 2020. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  5. ^ "MEA | Spokesperson's Office : Personnel".
  6. ^ "Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup to take over Syed Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson". 27 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Interview: Vikas Swarup - The author of Q&A, the novel behind the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire". The Cambridge Student. 24 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Vikas Swarup to be new spokesperson of External Affairs Ministry". The Hindu. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup to take over Syed Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson". Firstpost. 27 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Vikas Swarup, appointed as Secretary (West) in MEA". The Hindu. 12 December 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 21 January 2021. He died on 17 July 2022 due to heart attack
  11. ^ "Bio".
  12. ^ "Vikas Swarup appointed High Commisioner [sic] to Canada". The Hindu. 16 February 2017. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  13. ^ Panda, Sushmita (12 July 2019). "Author-Diplomat Vikas Swarup moved to Delhi as Indo-Canadian ties remain cold". Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  14. ^ Kannan, Indira (28 October 2018). "Slumdog Millionaire has opened up doors for me as a diplomat: Vikas Swarup". Business Standard India. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  15. ^ Mendes, Ana Cristina (2010). "Showcasing India Unshining: Film Tourism in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire". Third Text. 24 (4): 471–479. doi:10.1080/09528822.2010.491379. ISSN 0952-8822. S2CID 145021606.
  16. ^ "A ‘Slumdog’ Kind of Night at the Oscar Ceremony" by Michael Cieply and David Carr, The New York Times, 23 February 2009. Retrieved 2–23–09.
  17. ^ "'Slumdog Millionaire' writer Vikas Swarup appointed as External Affairs Ministry spokesperson". The Economic Times. Retrieved 21 January 2021.

External links[edit]

Interviews and articles[edit]