|Power Moment: Shankar (R) with Clinton|
The week before Ambassador Meera Shankar completed her assignment saw a series of memorable farewell parties and emotional exchange of notes on Indo-US relations. The US Department of State hosted a reception to bid her farewell on July 26, 2011, which was attended by senior members of the US administration and other key Ambassadors. Meera Shankar, a 1973 batch IFS officer, called on the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her office.
Also, the Indian community of the Greater Washington Area hosted a reception for the Ambassador on July 24, at which Ambassador Robert Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Bureau was the keynote speaker.
Ambassador Shankar too hosted two receptions on July 25, 2011 and on July 28, 2011 for the Indian American community and her American interlocutors respectively. The Indian American community was represented by all the leading associations in the Greater Washington Area and from across the country. The Governors of Maryland and Alabama also sent special citations to Ambassador Shankar for promoting ties between India and their states.
The reception on July 28, 2011 was attended by over 200 guests including Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, Congressman John Larson, Administrator of USAID Rajiv Shah, and other senior representatives from the US government, US Congress, business organizations, universities and think-tanks.
Under Secretary Hormats said that representing India in the United States is a challenging task, but Ambassador Shankar travelled extensively across the United States and projected India even to those who had very little knowledge of the country and its achievements, in a very clear, positive and convincing manner. Ambassador Shankar was also presented with a flag of the United States of America, which was flown over the Capitol building specially for her in recognition of her achievements as Ambassador of India to the United States, along with a certificate confirming this by the Congress, sent by Congressman Ed Royce, the co-chair of the India Caucus in the House of Representatives.
Meera Shankar and her IAS husband Ajay Shankar are likely to live in New Delhi where they have bought a flat in newly constructed Commonwealth Games village. Her batch-mate and former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao is taking over as India's new ambassador to US.