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Name: Shankar, Meera
Current Position: Ambassador

Meera Shankar has served as India’s ambassador to the United States since April 2009.

Born October 9, 1950, Shankar joined the Indian Foreign Service in July 1973.
She gradually rose up in rank, and by 1985, was serving as a director in the prime minister’s office. Six years later, Shankar received her first posting to the U.S., as commerce minister in India’s embassy in Washington, DC.
In 1995, she headed the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in New Delhi, overseeing India’s cultural diplomacy. Subsequently, in the Ministry of External Affairs, she headed two divisions dealing with the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and relations with Nepal and Bhutan.
After being promoted to the rank of additional secretary in 2002, she held the responsibility for the United Nations and international security.
Shankar was India’s ambassador to Germany from December 2005 to April 2009.
After returning to the U.S. as ambassador, Shankar became the center of controversy when, on December 4, 2010, airport screeners in Jackson, Mississippi, pulled the ambassador aside and subjected her to an “enhanced” pat-down. Officials with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) later said they were suspicious of what might have been under the diplomat’s sari.
As a general rule, foreign ambassadors are exempted from such screenings when using American airports.
The incident provoked outrage in India, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had to publicly apologize for the gaffe. But TSA wasn’t through causing embarrassment for Washington. Two days after Shankar’s frisking, India’s ambassador to the United Nations, Hardip Puri, a Sikh, went through a “turban pat-down” in Austin, Texas.
In February 2011, Shankar had to deal with yet another unfortunate American blunder when the 18-year-old daughter of India’s vice-consul in New York City was hauled away from her high school in handcuffs and spent more than 24 hours in jail after being falsely accused of sending obscene and anti-Semitic emails to a teacher. A different student later confessed to the transgression.
Shankar’s husband, Ajay Shankar, also served in government for more than 35 years. From 2007 to 2009 he was secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. In April 2010 he took over as a director of Tata Global Beverages. The couple has one daughter.
Official Biography (Embassy of India)
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