Vikas Swarup

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Vikas Swarup

VikasSwarup (cropped).jpg
Swarup in 2007
Secretary of Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs[1]
Assumed office
1 August 2019
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSubrahmanyam Jaishankar
Preceded byPosition Established
Indian High Commissioner to Canada
In office
3 March 2017 – 1 August 2019
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSushma Swaraj
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
Preceded byVishnu Prakash[2]
Succeeded byTo Be Appointed
Spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs
Joint Secretary (External Relations)
In office
18 April 2015 – 28 February 2017
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
MinisterSushma Swaraj
Preceded bySyed Akbaruddin
Succeeded byGopal Baglay
Personal details
Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Nationality Indian
Spouse(s)Aparna Swarup
Alma materUniversity of Allahabad
OccupationDiplomat IFS, Author
Known forQ & A (2005)
Six Suspects (2008)
The Accidental Apprentice (2013)

Vikas Swarup (born 1963)[3] is an Indian writer and diplomat who formerly served as the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India and the High Commissioner of India to Canada.[4] He presently serves as a Secretary to the Government of India for Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs. He is 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.[5]

On 12 July 2019, the Ministry of Pensions, Personnel and Public Grievances announced that Swarup would be promoted to the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, holding the newly created portfolio of Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs. He took office on 1 August 2019.[1] His replacement as Indian High Commissioner to Canada has not yet been named.

Early life and education[edit]

Vikas Swarup was born in Allahabad in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in a family of lawyers.[6] 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 an officer of the Indian Foreign Service batch of 1986.

As of 18 April 2015, he was posted in New Delhi as official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. His previous postings include stints in Ankara, Washington D.C., Addis Ababa, London, Pretoria and as Consul General in Osaka-Kobe, Japan.

Writing career[edit]

Q & A[edit]

His debut novel, Q & A, tells the story of how a penniless waiter in Mumbai becomes the biggest quiz show winner in history. 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 play based on the book won the Gold Award for Best Drama at the 2008 Sony Radio Academy Awards and the 2008 IVCA Clarion Award. Harper Collins 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.[7] 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."[8] 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 is also one of the finest public speakers, and has given 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.

He took over as the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs on 18 April 2015.

Personal life[edit]

Swarup is married to Aparna, an artist, and the couple has two sons.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Vikas Swarup appointed Secretary of Overseas Indian Affairs". The Hindu Business Line. PTI. 12 July 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  2. ^ "MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup Named High Commissioner to Canada". Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Interview: Vikas Swarup - The author of Q&A, the novel behind the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire". The Cambridge Student. 24 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Vikas Swarup to be new spokesperson of External Affairs Ministry". The Hindu. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup to take over Syed Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson". Firstpost.
  6. ^ a b "Bio".
  7. ^ Mendes, Ana Cristina (2010). "Showcasing India Unshining: Film Tourism in Danny Boyle'sSlumdog Millionaire". Third Text. 24 (4): 471–479. doi:10.1080/09528822.2010.491379. ISSN 0952-8822.
  8. ^ "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.

External links[edit]

Interviews and articles[edit]