Know Your Faculty: Journey of Dr. Mohan Kumar from Indian Foreign Service to Academia

“Before joining JGU & becoming a full-time academic, I spent 36 long years, in what can only be described as a “life time” in the Indian Foreign Service!   

Having joined in 1981, I did a variety of postings which were both important for India & challenging for me, personally.

Among these: being a lead negotiator for India first at the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade) and then the World Trade Organization in areas such as Intellectual Property Rights, Textiles & Dispute Settlement.

I also had a chance to deal substantively with India’s neighbours: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives & Myanmar. Finally, I was a francophone diplomat (absolutely fluent in French) which resulted in my being appointed as India’s Ambassador to France – a posting which is both prestigious & challenging in the Ministry of External Affairs.

The greatest thing about representing your country is the opportunity to make a huge difference – something that other career options may or may not confer.

One of the most important decisions that I made was to pursue a doctorate at the famous French “grande école” called Sciences Po in Paris which I successfully completed in 2012, 5 years prior to retirement. I was very keen to be an academic after retirement, partly but not wholly, because both my father & grandfather were Professors & I felt it was my calling to which I must return.

The journey of the last 3 years in JGU can only be described as unbelievable! The university leadership with the VC at the helm has been outstanding and this for me is crucial, because I was making the unusual journey from being a practitioner of diplomacy to being an academic in the same field! I needed academic freedom and a conducive atmosphere for my research & teaching, and this I got in full measure. To say I am happy teaching at Jindal School of International Affairs would be an understatement! I now consider myself an integral part of the Jindal family of academics.

Students have been a delight & the great thing about teaching is that I am still learning even at my age!

It would be immodest of me to claim that in a span of 3 years I have changed the lives of students. But I do believe I have had a positive impact on many students, not least because I bring a practitioner’s perspective & I do everything in my power to impart “critical thinking skills” in my students.

JGU has given me a second life after a long stint with the Government & I look forward to giving back something to my students in every single class on every single day!”

Prof. (Dr.) Ambassador Kumar has had an outstanding career in the Indian Foreign Service lasting 36 years which culminated in his being India’s Ambassador to France based in Paris. Under his watch, the Indo-French strategic partnership was strengthened and consolidated further in spheres such as defence, space, nuclear & solar energy, smart cities and investment. Earlier, Mohan Kumar was India’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain where he witnessed and dealt with a strategically complex region characterized by events such as the “Arab Spring”. 

Ambassador Kumar’s specialization includes: diplomatic practice & foreign policy, strategic partnerships with India’s neighbours, multilateral negotiations especially trade negotiations, climate change and globalization. 

His enormous expertise in the area of international trade made him a member of India’s delegation at the WTO Ministerial Conferences held in Marrakesh (1994), Seattle (1999) and Doha (2001).   It is noteworthy that Ambassador Kumar also serves as the Chairman of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) since June 2018.

Ambassador Kumar’s book titled “Negotiation Dynamics of the WTO: An Insider’s Account” was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018.

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