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Mumbai-Born Ashley Tellis Was Brilliant Student, Recall His Teachers

Mumbai: Amid reports that Mumbai-born strategic expert Ashley Tellis could be the next US Ambassador to India, teachers at his college here remember him as a brilliant student who also possessed oratory skills.

Tellis, a former White House official and renowned India expert, completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the St Xavier’s College in South Mumbai before going to the US for further studies.

“He was always brilliant in studies. He was a brilliant speaker and had a very good vocabulary,” Principal Agnelo Menezes said.

Menezes is the first non-Jesuit Principal of the college in its 147-year old history and was a year senior to Tellis at the institute.

“Ashley had a keen interest in arms and ammunition (strategic affairs),” Menezes told PTI.

Though settled in the US, he has kept in touch with his alma mater and also visited it after he passed out, he recalled.

Father Frazer Mascarenhas, a former Principal of the college, said Tellis was a clear-headed student who spoke passionately about India-US relations even during his college days.

“With a clear, sharp mind, Tellis always knew what he was doing right from the beginning. His thoughts about international relations and recommendations for strengthening India-US relations were firm from his college days,” he said.

After leaving Mumbai, the 55-year-old Indian-American policy wonk completed his PhD from the University of Chicago and went to hold important positions.

Tellis is currently a Senior Fellow, South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington -based influential think-tank.

He specialises in international security, defence and Asian strategic issues. The Mumbai-born analyst was previously associated with the RAND Corporation as a senior policy analyst.

If appointed the next US Ambassador to New Delhi under the upcoming Donald Trump administration, Tellis would replace Richard Verma, who was named to the post by outgoing President Barack Obama in 2015. Verma will depart as US Ambassador to India on January 20.