The Ambassador
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Ms. Smita Purushottam
Embassy of India, Berne, Switzerland

Smita Purushottam served as Ambassador to Venezuela from January 19, 2012 to June 22, 2015. Earlier, she was at the 
Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, as Senior Fellow where she focused on the Chinese innovation eco-system and the US-Russia “Reset”. She also started the High-Tech Defence Innovation Forum, now renamed, and the Eurasia cluster. The Forum seeks to provide a platform for discussion on issues relating to developing advanced technologies in India.

She served in India’s missions abroad as Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of India in Berlin, Minister (Political) at the High Commission of India, London, Counsellor for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Indian Embassy in Beijing and at the Embassy in Brussels, and Language-trainee and Information Second Secretary at the Embassy of India, Moscow.

As DCM, Berlin, she handled responsibility for the political, economic and administrative wings, interacted with German MPs and think tanks, and handled several high-level visits during Germany’s Presidency of the G-8, EU and Chairmanship of the NSG. As Min (Pol), London, she handled responsibility for political affairs, interacted with the British Parliament including the Friends of India (Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem), and participated in the think tank community. In China, she handled responsibility for economic and commercial affairs, while in Brussels she handled responsibility for economic and commercial affairs and the EU.

She served also as Joint Secretary at the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), New Delhi; Joint Secretary in the Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters in the Ministry of Defence; Director/Under Secretary (East Europe/Soviet Union) and SAARC, and Under Secretary (Bhutan) in MEA.

She spent a year as Fellow at Harvard during 2000-2001 where she prepared a paper “Can India Overtake China?” (2001), in which she compared the two economies and their respective reform experiences; analysed the ongoing reforms in the Indian economy focusing on the telecom sector, aviation, privatization attempts and IT, and recommended building a strong manufacturing sector like China had. She also attended courses at the National Defence University, Washington in July-August 2002 and at the Workshop on the Relationship Between National Security and Technology in China at the University of California, San Diego, in July-August 2013.

Ms. Purushottam did her schooling in New Delhi, India; Moscow, Russia and Geneva, Switzerland. She won a Fellowship for a PhD in European History at Cornell University in the same year that she qualified for the Indian Foreign Service (1980), which she joined. Ms. Purushottam earned a Master’s degree (1st class) in History from Delhi University in 1979. She taught History briefly at Jesus & Mary College, Delhi University and joined the M.Phil. program at Delhi University in 1979. She speaks Russian, French and Hindi and can read limited Spanish. She was selected in 1984 for a panel of Judges for books qualifying for the Hunger Media Awards awarded by a non-profit NGO affiliated to the United Nations.

Ms. Purushottam has been published widely in reputed journals and newspapers in India and abroad. Her hobbies are reading on current affairs, international relations, literature, and amateur science, writing, walking, tennis, trekking, swimming, painting, theatre, movies and ballet. She is committed to environmental causes and has planted several trees at different locations in Delhi, India and in Caracas, Venezuela. During her younger days she acted in college plays, participated in inter-college, inter-university debates and quizzes, trekked in Kashmir and wrote several articles for her college magazine andThe Statesman, Delhi on various topics – philosophysocial workyouth issues and literature. She also did some social work.

Ms. Purushottam was accredited as the Ambassador of India to Switzerland on August 25, 2015.

Ms. Purushottam has one son, Ashwin Purushottam, who after working with McKinsey, graduated with an MBA from INSEAD.  He is now Team Leader Operations, ASEAN with the eCom company, Garena.



  • “Launching Defence Industrialisation in India": Lecture and Power Point at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, JNU, New Delhi, January 19, 2015

  • “Defence Innovation Strategy for India”: at “5th Meeting of High-Tech Defence Innovation Forum”, Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses, IDSA, New Delhi, November 26, 2014 - report to be published soon

  • “Elements of, and international perspectives on, an indigenous Innovation Eco-system”: 4th Meeting of High-Tech Defence Innovation Forum, IDSA, New Delhi, August 24, 2013

  • “Building a High-tech Economic Foundation in India”: Mangalayatan University, Uttar Pradesh, India, August 31, 2013

  • Lectures at University Centrale, Los Andes University, Simon Bolivar University and other venues on India in Venezuela, 2012-2013.

  • “Technology as the Key to Power: Building a High-Tech Defence Innovation Base in India”: Lecture and Power Point Presentation) at Confederation of Indian Industry and Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CII-CENJOWS) Seminar, August 26-27, 2011

  • “Prospects of a Russia-China Strategic Formulation to Displace US Global Dominance”; Lecture and Presentation at National Defence College (NDC), New Delhi, 25 April, 2011

  • Lectures on Germany, Global Currency issues, and Russia at IDSA -2010-2011

  • Chairperson of Session on 'China's Importance for Developing Asia: Trade and Investment Relations', organised by RIS at IIC, 5 November 2009

  • Lectures to Defence Attaches, ASEAN diplomats and other groups during tenure at FSI – 2009.

  • Lectures on Indian economy before different audiences in Embassy of India, Berlin auditórium 2007-2008

  • “Innovation in the Modern Age”, Special Address at 3rd Indo-German Business Forum Dusseldorf, November 13, 2008

  • “The Energy Scenario in India and Possibilities for Cooperation Between India and Germany”, October 16, 2008, Ihk, Nürnberg

  • Speech on India and bilateral prospects in Braunschweig, Germany, 2008

  • Panel discussion on Space, organised by the German Foreign Ministry, Berlin, January 2007