[ecis2016.org] In what is clearly an interesting choice after M Venkaiah Naidu, the former housing and urban affairs minister; Hardeep Singh Puri, a diplomat with over 40 years of experience, has been given independent charge of the housing and urban affairs ministry
Retired diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri, who was inducted into the Union Council of Ministers, has a distinguished four-decade career in diplomacy spanning a multilateral arena behind him, and has been allocated the housing and urban affairs ministry, with an independent charge. M Venkaiah Naidu had held the housing and urban affairs portfolio, before he was picked as the NDA’s vice-presidential nominee.
The new minister’s first major official engagement would be to attend the inauguration of the first phase of Lucknow Metro on September 5, 2017. Puri took a preliminary briefing from his ministry secretary Durga Shanker Mishra, on various initiatives of the government in the urban sector. He said he would like to go into details of implementation and related issues in respect of each of the six new missions from tomorrow and would like to complete this exercise this week before talking to media on the way ahead.
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The 65-year-old, who took oath as a Minister of State, has served as India’s Ambassador to the UN in New York and Geneva, and with his decades of diplomatic experience, his presence in the Council would be a rarity. Puri has had an over 40-year innings in diplomacy covering the multilateral arena, including as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, both, in Geneva (2002-2005) and in New York (2009-2013). He is one of the few Indians to preside over the United Nations Security Council and the only one to have chaired its Counter-terrorism Committee.
Puri, a 1974-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, most recently served as vice- president at the International Peace Institute and as the secretary general of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism in New York. He was also India’s envoy to Brazil and the United Kingdom. An alumnus of Hindu College in Delhi University who also taught briefly at St Stephen’s College, he is the author of a book, ‘Perilous Interventions: The Security Council & The Politics of Chaos’, published last year. Earlier this year, he was appointed the chairman of the Research and Information System for Developing Country (RIS), a city-based autonomous think- tank that works under the Ministry of External Affairs. RIS is an organisation that specialises in policy research on international economic issues and development cooperation, besides focussing on promoting South-South Cooperation and assisting developing countries in multilateral negotiations in various fora.
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