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Shefali Razdan Duggal, the US Ambassador-Designate to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will present her credentials to His Majesty, King Willem-Alexander, on Oct. 19.

The native of Kashmir was nominated as envoy to the Netherlands by President Joe Biden on March 11. The nomination was approved by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 14. She will be filling the post vacated by former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, who resigned in January 2021. Razdan Duggal was sworn in to the post Oct. 7 by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Bhagavad Gita

A video of the ceremony has been making rounds on social media. An emotional Razdan Duggal is seen fighting back tears as she takes oath. She places her left hand on the Bhagavad Gita — one of the most revered religious texts of Hinduism — held by her mother, dressed in a pastel blue saree. Both these choices, one based on faith and another, sartorial, inject a flavor of novelty to this routine governmental ritual.

YouTube video
(White House video)

Harris, who is herself of Indian descent, took to social media to congratulate Razdan Duggal on her new role. “I had the privilege of swearing in Shefali Razdan Duggal to be our next Ambassador to the Netherlands. We wish you well in this new role and thank you for your leadership,” she wrote in a tweet.

In a press release, the White House described her as an “experienced political activist, women’s rights advocate and human rights campaigner.”

Biden Bundler

Razdan Duggal has had a long track record of involvement and engagement in the Democratic party. She has been on the national finance committee of Joe Biden for President and prior to that she was on the equivalent committees for president Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign as well as on the one for Hillary Clinton.

Her resumé also boasts the role of a national co-chair for Women for Biden and a deputy national finance chair at the Democratic National Committee.

President Obama appointed Razdan Duggal to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council.

Kashmiri Origin

Razdan Duggal, 50, was born in the northern Indian city of Haridwar, in November 1971. She hails from the same ethnic group as former Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi. She moved to the U.S. at a very young age, when her family emigrated to the U.S. and grew up just outside of Cincinnati, in Blue Ash, Ohio.  

The diplomat graduated from Sycamore High School in 1989 and from Miami University in 1993, with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. She earned a master’s degree in media ecology from New York University.

Alakananda Mookerjee lives in Brooklyn, and is a Francophile.