Amb. (Retd.) Neelam D. Sabharwal

Former Indian Ambassador to UNESCO and the Netherlands

Ambassador Neelam D Sabharwal joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1974. During her diplomatic career, she held many important assignments in the Ministry of External affairs at headquarters and abroad. Starting her career in Hong Kong and Beijing, she served in Washington as First secretary (Political), in Geneva as Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN Offices and a second time in Beijing as Deputy Chief of Mission. At headquarters, she served on China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and East Europe desks.

Her ambassadorial assignments were as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO in Paris (Feb 2000 - July 2004), High Commissioner of India to Cyprus (Sep. 2004 - Oct 2006), and Ambassador of India to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative of India to the OPCW from October 2006 to December 2008.

After retiring from the Indian Foreign Service, she has developed and introduced the India Studies programme in University of Maastricht. She was Associate Professor & Advisor India, Maastricht University India Institute (MUII), and a member of the University of Maastricht, India Institute Advisory Board from 2010 to 2016. In this capacity, she was also appointed external member of the EU project on Transnational Migration and Mobility for policy recommendations on review of EU's current policy framework on Legal Migration. She has edited a book entitled, 'India and Netherlands - Changing Images: Lasting Visions'. As a student and an analyst of international affairs, she writes and interacts on current global developments, particularly on India-China and India- Europe relations.


Amb.(Retd.) Ashok K Kantha

Director, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi

Ambassador Ashok K. Kantha joined as Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi on 31st March 2017.

Kantha joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1977. He was Ambassador of India to China until January 2016. Prior to this, he was Secretary (East) at Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi with responsibility for about 65 countries in India's extended neighbourhood. His previous assignments include High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka and Malaysia, Consul General in Hong Kong, Deputy Chief of Mission in Kathmandu (Nepal), and Joint Secretary (East Asia) in Ministry of External Affairs.

Earlier, he served in different capacities at Indian Missions in Singapore, China and the USA, and at headquarters in New Delhi. In his diplomatic career spanning over 38 years, Kantha specialized in Asian affairs, with a particular focus on China. Apart from three assignments in China, he served as Joint Secretary (East Asia) and Director (China) at Ministry of External Affairs for periods of four years each, closely involved in the formulation and implementation of India's foreign policy in respect of China and East Asia.

Amb (retd.) Gautam Bambawale

Former Indian Ambassador to China and High Commissioner to Pakistan
Distinguished Faculty, Symbiosis School of International Studies, Pune

Gautam Bambawale worked in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) for 34 years between 1984-2018. He has been India's Ambassador to Bhutan and China , and High Commissioner to Pakistan.

He has headed the Indian Cultural Centre, Berlin. He was stationed in Washington D.C. during the Indo - U.S. nuclear deal. He has worked at the Prime Minister's Office. He has had 17 years of experience dealing with China, in various capacities. He is fluent in Chinese and German.

Mr. Sidharth Varadrajan

Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan is Founding Editor of The Wire. He was earlier Editor of The Hindu