Joe Biden nominates ex-US ambassador to India for a top exec post

US President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American lawyer diplomat Richard Verma, also a former US ambassador to India, to a top diplomatic position in the State Department, a move hailed by the Indian diaspora as an "inspired choice".

Richard Verma served as the US' Ambassador to India from January 16, 2015 to January 20, 2017.
Richard Verma served as the US' Ambassador to India from January 16, 2015 to January 20, 2017. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@singlebuchi.

The White House in a statement said that Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate 54-year-old Richard Verma to be Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. If confirmed by the US Senate, Richard Verma would be the highest ranking Indian-American in the State Department.

Currently Chief Legal Officer and Head of Global Public Policy at Mastercard, Richard Verma served as the US' Ambassador to India from January 16, 2015 to January 20, 2017.

During the Obama administration, Richard Verma also served as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.

Earlier in his career, Richard Verma was National Security Advisor to United States Senator Harry Reid while he was a Democratic Whip, Minority Leader and then Majority Leader of the United States Senate.

He has served as Vice Chairman of The Asia Group, Partner and Senior Counsellor at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and Senior Counsellor at the Albright Stonebridge Group. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he served on active duty as a Judge Advocate.

The Indian diaspora here welcomed the nomination of Richard Verma to the top diplomatic position, saying Joe Biden has made an "inspired choice".

"In nominating Verma to this very senior State Department role, President Biden and Secretary Antony Blinken have made an inspired choice," leading diaspora organisation 'Indiaspora' said in a statement.

"Because of his ample high-level experience in the executive and legislative branches of government, his diplomatic vantage point as the 25th United States Ambassador to India, where he oversees one of the largest US Missions in the world including four consulates across India and nearly every agency of the US government, and his international private sector leadership background as a partner at the global law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP and as Senior Counselor to the Albright Stonebridge Group, Verma is exactly the right person to serve the country in the top echelons of the State Department," Indiaspora said.

Ronak D Desai, prominent attorney and leading India practitioner at Paul Hastings LLP and expert at the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University, in a separate statement said that Richard Verma is "uniquely well-qualified" to become the State Department's number two official.

"The breadth and depth of his experience and vision will make him a potent leader in protecting and promoting American interests and values around the world," he said.

Richard Verma's long-standing track record of dedicated public service, principled leadership on global issues, and fierce belief in the United States renders him the ideal nominee, he said. "The President could not have named a better nominee," Mr Desai said.

"His entire public service career has been one firsts. By becoming the highest-ranking Indian American in the US government if confirmed, his latest nomination to serve as the chief operating officer of the State Department is no exception. He is an inspiration through example," Mr Desai said.

"Verma's nomination today hopefully heralds the return of one of America's most talented, committed, and effective public servants. The country is safer and stronger when he is serving its ranks," Mr Desai said.