Image Source : RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (X) Ruchira Kamboj with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after becoming India’s first woman Ambassador to the United Nations.

New York: Senior diplomat Ruchira Kamboj, who made history after becoming the first woman to become the Indian Ambassador to the United Nations, retired on Saturday after an illustrious career spanning nearly four decades, she announced on Saturday. Kamboj was the topper of the 1987 Civil Services batch and joined the Indian Foreign Service that year.

“Thank you, Bharat, for the extraordinary years and unforgettable experiences,” the 60-year-old senior diplomat signed off with this message on X. Kamboj was also the topper of the 1987 Foreign Service batch, formally assumed the position of Permanent Representative/ Ambassador of India to New York, on August 2, 2022.

Known for her quick wit and eloquent speech highlighting India’s achievements at the UN, Kamboj’s retirement prompted an overwhelming response from all walks of life, including former ambassadors to common citizens, who thanked her for her services. “37 years of service, Sheer grace & steel — Your impact shall endure,” said one user.

Speaking three languages, Hindi, English and French, Kamboj began her diplomatic journey in Paris as the Third Secretary in the Indian Embassy to France from 1989 to 1991. She also worked as Under Secretary in the Europe West Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs from 1991–96, dealing with France, UK, the BENELUX countries, Italy, Spain and Portugal. From 1996-99, Kamboj served First Secretary (Economic and Commercial) and Head of Chancery at the Indian High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius.

She returned to Delhi and served Deputy Secretary and later Director in charge of Foreign Service Personnel and Cadre in the Ministry of External Affairs from June 1999 until March 2002, one of the longest serving tenures in this key administration post.

After postings at several locations, Kamboj first came to the UN as Counsellor at India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York from 2002-2005, where she dealt with a wide range of political issues, including UN Peacekeeping, UN Security Council Reform, the Middle East crisis etc, according to the Indian Mission’s website.

She also had a brief role as the Deputy Head of the Office of the Secretary-General at the Commonwealth Secretariat London and from 2011-2014, she was India’s Chief of Protocol, the first and only lady so far in Government to have held this position. She was also posted at UNESCO, Paris, after which the Ministry of External Affairs called her on special assignment to New Delhi to direct the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was marked by the presence of Heads of State and Government from the SAARC countries and Mauritius.

Ruchira Kamboj also served as the High Commissioner to South Africa and Lesotho and the envoy to Bhutan. She is currently married to Diwakar Kamboj and has a daughter. Her late father was an Officer in the Indian Army and her mother is a writer-professor (Retd.) of Sanskrit from the University of Delhi.

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