Swarup of 'Slumdog' fame to be new external affairs ministry spokesperson

Indian Foreign Service officer and noted novelist Vikas Swarup of Slumdog Millionaire-fame has been named the new spokesperson of the Indian external affairs ministry.

He will take over from Syed Akbaruddin, the current spokesman of the external affairs ministry, on 18 April.

Swarup is currently joint secretary (UN-political).

The Hollywood movie Slumdog Millionaire, based on his book, won as many as eight Oscars. It was based on Swarup's successful debut novel ''Q&A''.

Akbaruddin, the current spokesperson, is to be promoted to additional secretary and has been appointed as 'chief coordinator' of the Indo-Africa Forum Summit.

The third edition of the summit is scheduled to take place in India on 29 October. Reflecting the government's drive for increased engagement with Africa, this year's summit is likely to see participation of all 54 African countries.

The role of spokesperson has become very critical with the new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a diplomatic overdrive and a big jump in bilateral and multilateral engagements.

The ministry of external affairs is the only union ministry which has a full-fledged spokesperson holding regular briefings.

Akbaruddin is widely regarded as an effective spokesperson for the ministry, apart from being a Muslim face in the undeniably pro-Hindu government.