Career diplomat Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi has been appointed as the new Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand.
He is currently posted as the Ambassador of India to Mexico and is expected to take up the new assignment shortly.
The office of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India confirmed the new appointment through an official press release on Wednesday, February 27.
Before his current posting as Ambassador of India to Mexico, Mr Pardeshi had played an instrumental role in the transformation of Passport services in India (12 million in 2015).
‘New Zealand is a familiar place.’
Speaking to The Indian Weekender from Mexico, Mr Pardeshi excitedly said, “New Zealand is a familiar place for me as a diplomat.
“I had twice visited New Zealand about 15 years ago in my then role as Deputy Director in the MEA looking after the entire South Pacific region.
“I still remember that during those days we had about 3000 international students visiting from India and the relatively small size of Indian community living in Auckland.
“However, it’s great to know that now that number has increased to around 30,000, and a vibrant Indian community living all around in New Zealand.
“This is a testimonial to our growing bilateral relations between the two countries, and I look forward to further contribute in expanding our bilateral ties,” Mr Pardeshi said.
Responding to The Indian Weekender’s question of the top three priorities in his new role as the High Commissioner to New Zealand, Mr Pardeshi said, “Expanding political dialogue between the two countries, improving bilateral trade and investment relations, and expanding people-to-people links between the two countries.”
“In that context, I look forward to the support of our Kiwi-Indian community in fulfilling these objectives,” Mr Pardeshi said.
A reputation of excellence in e-governance
Mr Pardeshi, a 1991 batch Indian Foreign Services (IFS) officer, brings with him a massive reputation of excellence in e-governance.
In his previous role as the Joint Secretary (Passport Seva Project) and Chief Passport Officer of India for about five years, Mr Pardeshi led the Passport Seva Project in various capacities, and his leadership role was widely acclaimed.
Passport Seva Project eventually became the recipient of the National Award on e-Governance (Gold) 2014-15, Web Ratna (Platinum) Award 2014, Computer Society of India-Nihilent e-Governance Award of Excellence 2011-12 and e-INDIA Governance Award 2013.
The Project was also awarded three ISO certifications, namely ISO 9001:2008, 20000:2011 and 27000:2013 in 2015.
“I take a lot of pride in being a civil servant in India and have worked to improve governance in our day to day lives and deliver world-class services to our people and communities.
“I see my six-year tenure as Chief Passport Officer in India from 2010 as a career-defining moment as we embarked upon massive digitalisation of our passport service delivery,” Mr Pardeshi.
Proven results in expanding bilateral trade
However, Ambassador Pardeshi’s reputation is not limited to just excellence in e-governance but also in overseeing a phenomenal 70 per cent growth rate in bilateral trade between Mexico and India under his watchful eyes.
“During my current tenure, India-Mexico ´Privileged Partnership’ has seen huge advancement with bilateral trade increased from $5.9 bn in 2015 to $ 10.1bn in 2018 registering 70 per cent growth over three years,” Mr Pardeshi told The Indian Weekender.
It is important to note that Mr Pardeshi named Ambassador of the Year 2018 for his contributions by Mexican diplomatic journal El MundoInternacional.
An alumnus of Delhi University, Mr Pardeshi holds a Bachelor and Master of Arts from Hindu College and Delhi School of Economics respectively (both with the first position in the University) before entering the diplomatic service in 1991.
In a diplomatic career spanning over 28 years, Mr Pardeshi has served in numerous postings in the Ministry and overseas stations around the world.
Relevant to this part of the world – Indo Pacific region – Mr Pardeshi has also served as Minister/Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of India in Jakarta (2007-10) and Deputy Secretary (South East Asia & Pacific) in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi.
It is expected that Mr Pardeshi would be bringing his vast experience, especially proven excellence in e-governance, to further enhance the reach out of the Indian High Commission of New Zealand with the Kiwi-Indian community, along with strengthening the already growing relationship between New Zealand and India.
Mr Pardeshi is married to Rakhi Pardeshi, and they have two daughters, with one studying in King’s College, London and the other working for Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi. Mrs Pardeshi is engaged in social and charitable activities. She is presently serving as President of the Association of Diplomatic Spouses, Mexico City for two terms (2018-19).