Nirupama Menon Rao is a retired Indian diplomat, Foreign Secretary and Ambassador. She was educated in India and joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973. During her four-decade- long diplomatic career she held several important assignments. She was India’s first woman spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, the first woman high commissioner from her country to Sri Lanka, and the first Indian woman ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. She served as India’s Foreign Secretary from 2009-2011. At the end of that term, she was appointed India’s Ambassador to the United States where she served for a term of two years from 2011-2013.
On her retirement from active diplomatic service, Ambassador Rao entered the world of academics with an appointment as Meera and Vikram Gandhi Fellow at the India Initiative at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Ms. Rao has continued to pursue her academic interests and has taught an undergraduate seminar at Brown University titled “India in the World”.
Ambassador Rao holds an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Pondicherry University in India. She is currently working on a book on India’s China relationship, entitled: “The Politics of History: India and China, 1949-1962”.
In November 2014, the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi, announced the grant of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship to Ambassador Rao to enable her to work on the completion of her book project on India-China relations. Ms. Rao was a Visiting Scholar at the India China Institute at The New School in New York during April-May 2016, and was appointed a Public Policy Fellow at The Wilson Center in Washington D.C. in June 2017.