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1st Indian diplomat to be UNGA President’s Chef du Cabinet

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Nagaraj Naidu, Chef du Cabinet of the President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly Abdulla Shahid has said that an Indian diplomat holding the position shows the ” confidence of the PGA (President of the General Assembly) on what India brings on the table”.

Speaking to our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal in New York, Naidu said, “We are here to be seized of the issues erupting all over the world. We have to take care of member states’ concerns, specific areas.”

This is the first time that an Indian diplomat is on the post. He will be holding the post for a period of one year. The post is like the chief of staff or like in the Indian system PM’s Principal Secretary. Naidu explained the work as, “a train that is running nonstop and we are at the 76th station and we just dropped at the 77th station, that is the work.” 76th is the current session of the United Nations General Assembly, and the 77th session will begin next year in September.

Naidu is a 1998 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, a fluent Chinese speaker, and an avid yoga practitioner. He has served in China and was also the National Coordinator for establishing the International Solar Alliance in India.

Question: What is the daily routine for you? We are in your office, what is the workflow?

Nagraj Naidu: Thanks, Sidhant, you have come to New York at a time when the 76th session of the general assembly has just kicked off. We have finished the high-level debate week which is ending today. The work in the General Assembly is such that we oversee all the 6 committees, works in the 6 committees that take place in the United Nations as well as all the important initiatives as the President of the General Assembly would like to bring to the United Nations. Issues that he feels deserves the attention of all the member states. These can be issues such as climate change and COVID-19 vaccination. The inequity we are seeing in the distribution as well as all other issues that members states think need to be deliberated upon in the General Assembly. The office works on a 24*7 basis, we work almost every hour of the day. We operate at a time when virtual meetings are possible any part of the day, and considering the time zones, we schedule meetings practically all times and the PGA (President of the General Assembly) has to be present in many meetings, and there is massive coordination involved–the writing of speeches, appointing of co-facilitators, scheduling events and the plenaries throughout the year. It is like a train that is running nonstop and we are at the 76th station and we just dropped at the 77th station, that is the work.

Question: How do you feel like being in the office? You are the first Indian diplomat to hold the office. It’s first, and first is a first.

Nagraj Naidu: It’s a privilege for India and I am delighted to be chosen. It reflects the confidence of the PGA in what India brings to the table. The Chef du Cabinet is a position, there is a lot of responsibility, and it requires me to be in touch with all the member states of the United Nations. Handling the office brings its complexities, it is tremendously satisfying because once you are here, you manage all processes. Pressure from member states, which is good, and ensures that President’s office works for member states. We work across different processes from the first committee which relates to disarmament, the second committee which relates to economic and social affairs, third committee looks at human rights issues, the fourth committee looks at decolonization issues, fifth committee on budgeting, how does the United Nations runs, what are the resources available for us, and how can we can spread those resources to areas which are important to member states and finally the sixth committee that looks at the legal issues. So, it’s an elaborate agenda we have and my responsibility as Chef du Cabinet is that we run the agenda. The discussion happens in a very constructive atmosphere and deliberated on and we bring resolution and decisions of the general assembly to the broader UN membership.

Question: So a lot of effort, diplomatic outreach, but being in communication with a lot of people.

Nagraj Naidu: Absolutely, you are firefighting from day one. It is the responsibility of the office to be ready at all times because we are here to handle a crisis situation. We are here to be seized of the issues erupting all over the world. We have to take care of member states’ concerns, specific areas. PGA has to deliberate some of these issues and bring in a perspective that can reassure the member states important issues are getting the concerned attention and they are also getting resolved. Multiple processes and some of these processes are mandated processes by specific resolutions. The way we chart the calendar for the year is to seek what are these mandated events the President has to organize throughout the year. And then we work with a large number of teams that what member states have asked the PGA to deliver. He delivers through the year. This is a massive exercise and we have a very good team in place and we have a lot of guidance from PGA himself and we are looking at a very substantive and productive 76th session.

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Courtesy – www.dnaindia.com

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