Nirupama Menon Rao, an Indian retired Diplomat, Foreign Secretary, and Ambassador began her career as an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1973. During her tenure of career she worked on several important assignments, as 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 also served as India’s Foreign Secretary from 2009-2011. At the end of term, she was appointed as India’s Ambassador to the United States where she served for the term of two years from 2011-2013. Nirupama with her husband, Sudhakar Rao is the founder trustee of ‘The South Asian Symphony Foundation’ and has established the South Asian Symphony Orchestra. This was a project aimed at greater people-to-people connectivity in South Asia and among the South Asian diaspora.
On retirement, Nirupama was a Fellow Professor at the Brown University and also taught there from the year 2015-16. She was George Ball Adjunct Professor at Columbia University in 2018. In 2019, she was also a Pacific Leadership Fellow at UC San Diego. She is a Global Fellow of The Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC, a Member of the Board of Governors of IIM, Bangalore , ICRIER , New Delhi and the Board of the U.S India Business Council. She is a recipient of the Vanitha Ratna Award of the Government of Kerala. In 2012, Rao was named to the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential women on Twitter, the social media platform where she has a following of 1.3 million.
Nirupama Menon Rao