UN General Assembly

Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer K Nagaraj Naidu was named chef de cabinet on Wednesday by the incoming UN general assembly president, Maldivian foreign minister Abdulla Shahid, for the duration of his one-year tenure to lead the world body through its return to normalcy as countries strive to bring the pandemic under control.

“Today, I have appointed ambassador Thilmeeza Hussain as special envoy of the PGA, and ambassador Nagaraj Naidu Kumar as my chef de cabinet. They will be instrumental in delivering my vision for the #PresidencyOfHope,” Shahid tweeted.

Hussain is Maldives’ permanent representative to the UN and doubles up as ambassador to the US and Canada.

Naidu is India’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, and he will be on loan from the Indian government to the United Nations for a position that is comparable to the Indian prime minister’s principal secretary, who oversees the cabinet bureaucracy; also something like the chief of staff to the US president.

Naidu will probably be the first Indian diplomat to be named to this position, and as such, his appointment bears testimony to India’s growing influence in the world body.

India started a two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in January – it’s eighth so far – with an unstated goal of, among other things, to buttress its claim to a permanent membership of the most exclusive club of nations in the world.

Naidu’s stewardship of the UN general assembly bureaucracy will be critical at a time when the world body is trying to get back on its feet with Covid-19 being steadily brought under control.

The last session of the UN general assembly was attended virtually by India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar.