More Indian Americans on Biden national security team; Sumon Guha for South Asia; Shanthi Kalathil for human rights

US President-elect Joe Biden, continuing to fill out top posts to align with a diverse country's shifting demographics, on Friday appointed to his national security council "incredibly accomplished" Indian Americans who will serve under National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

Jan 09, 2021
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Sabrina Singh, Shanthi Kalathil and Sumona Guha

US President-elect Joe Biden, continuing to fill out top posts to align with a diverse country's shifting demographics, on Friday appointed to his national security council "incredibly accomplished" Indian Americans who will serve under National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.  Sumona Guha, a graduate of Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University, has been appointed as Senior Director for South Asia and former journalist Shanthi Kalathil will be Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights.

Tarun Chhabra, a first-generation American and a graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School, will serve as Senior Director for Technology and National Security.

Below are excerpts on the three latest Indian American choices:

Tarun Chhabra is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University. He was previously a Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Perry World House.

During the Obama-Biden administration, Chhabra served on the National Security Council staff as Director for Strategic Planning and Director for Human Rights and National Security Issues, and at the Pentagon as a speechwriter to the Secretary of Defence.

Sumona Guha was co-chair of the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-Harris campaign, and serves on the transition's State Department Agency Review Team. Guha is Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group.

Previously, she served in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer and later, on the Secretary of State's policy planning staff where she focused on South Asia. During the Obama-Biden administration, she was Special Advisor for national security affairs to Vice President Biden.

Shanthi Kalathil is currently senior director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, where her work focuses on emerging challenges to democracy.

Previously in her career, she served as a senior democracy fellow at the US Agency for International Development, an associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Hong Kong-based reporter for the Asian Wall Street Journal, and an advisor to international affairs organisations.

Kalathil is the co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule. Originally from California, Kalathil is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

   Sabrina Singh, a longtime aide to US Vice President elect Kamala Harris, was named White House Deputy Press Secretary in the incoming administration, according to a statement released by the Biden-Harris transition team. Singh was earlier a senior spokesperson on the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign and National Press Secretary for Cory Booker's presidential campaign.

In roles prior to that, she served as Deputy Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee, Spokesperson for American Bridge's Trump War Room and Regional Communications Director on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. She has also worked at SKDKnickerbocker, served as Communications Director for Rep. Jan Schakowsky and worked at various Democratic committees.

In the weeks after the US election results were announced, several Indian Americans have been appointed to important posts by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

They include Neera Tanden, who will be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General, both of whom will have to be confirmed in their positions by the Senate, and Vedant Patel, to be his assistant press secretary, Vinay Reddy to be the director of speechwriting and Gautam Raghavan to be the deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel.

Others include Atul Gawande and Celine Gounder to the Covid-19 task force, Mala Adiga to be the policy director for Jill Biden, who will become the First Lady, and Maju Varghese to be the executive director of their inauguration - the swearing-in ceremony and the festivities around it.

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