US Ambassador to India apparently sacked

It seems the US Ambassador to India, Nancy J Powell,  has been forced to resign by the Obama Administration (read John Kerry’s State Department) after just 2 years in her position. The story doing the rounds is that she earned the displeasure of her bosses for

  1. totally misjudging and underestimating the Indian reaction to the diplomat Khobragade’s prosecution in New York,
  2. misjudging the political developments and therefore not patching up and developing a proper relationship with Narendra Modi who is likely to be the next Prime Minister of India after the imminent general election, and
  3. being “missing from the action” by going off on long trekking excursions.

The thinking is that Washington wants to “reboot” the US/India relationship which is currently “frozen” and that requires a new, more politically savvy person – though Nancy Powell was herself a career diplomat. During her 37 year career, Powell, has served as US ambassador to Uganda, Ghana, Pakistan, Nepal and India. Also if Narendra Modi does become the next Prime Minister, Nancy Powell continuing as Ambassador would not be possible. It would be better therefore if she was already out of the way and did not present a potential liability.

These at least are the reasons which can openly be deduced. However there has also been an involvement of the US Embassy consular staff in support of getting US visas for the family of the maid who Devayani Khobragade was accused of mistreating. Apparently members of the maid’s family worked for some consular officials in India and the whole prosecution may have been engineered by US consular officials breaking many of their internal rules – and the buck for that stops with Nancy Powell.

IndiaToday: It was a series of diplomatic cables sent on behalf of US ambassador Nancy Powell that led to her being forced to resign by the US State Department, which didn’t want to be saddled with the Nancy legacy for doing business with a new government in New Delhi.

 Top diplomatic sources said that Powell authorised cables during diplomat Devyani Khobragade arrest row described the Indian position as weak and that it will not escalate the matter as the country was in an election mode, the reverse happened because of elections round the corner there was an unprecedented Indian anger and response which dipped the relationship to an all time low.

Earlier too Powell was blamed for not advising the Washington to do business with Narendra Modi and the US only courted Narendra Modi recently after the intervention of the US State Department.

The envoy was also blamed for being on frequent trekking tours and even the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi had informed the interlocutors in Washington that her conduct was not helpful to the relationship.

The Obama Administration has said  – as they had to – that they had no differences with Powell and that her retirement was a planned event.

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