NEW YORK CITY, NY (TIP): Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, who recently took over as the Consul General of India in New York, in her maiden formal interaction with media persons, called upon Indian American media to be an effective bridge of communication between the Consulate and the community.
Addressing a well-attended gathering of mediapersons at the Consulate in New York, March 30, Mrs. Das said that cooperation of the media was crucial in maintaining harmonious relationship with the community. She pointed out that her office would like to utilize the channel of Indian media to effectively communicate with the community on important people related issues.
Giving an example, she said that there were unclaimed OCI documents in the Consulate. “With the help of newspapers we would like to reach out to those applicants who never turned up to pick up their documents”, she said, “Such documents can be stored at the Consulate for a limited period of time, after which they would be destroyed.”
Ambassador Ganguly Das said that her office was proud to ensure that most emergency visa applications were processed within 15 minutes provided paper work was completed as per application guidelines.
“The application process for passport and visa is going through a transitional phase as a new outsourcing company was selected to take over the responsibilities”, informed Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, Deputy Consul General of India in New York.
According to Dr Mohapatra, a new service was launched to expedite the process of new passports. He claimed that ‘Tatkal’ service was aimed at facilitating the completion of passports within two hours of submitting applications. “Any delay caused might be due to noncompliance of guidelines or lack of supporting documents needed to process the applications”, he added.
The Consul General spelled out a number of initiatives to strengthen public diplomacy efforts some of which were continuation of efforts initiated by the former Consul General Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay. She said that community outreach program initiated by her immediate predecessor has proved to be effective in connecting with the Indian American communities in far flung States, such as Ohio and Massachusetts. “We will soon organize outreach events in cities like Cincinnati and Boston.”
Ambassador Ganguly Das underscored the importance of increasing trade and commerce between India and the United States. “In order to strengthen these ties I plan to work with chambers and organizations dedicated to trade and commerce.”
Attracting young people to Consulate activities was also under her priority list of things to do. “We want to engage young people in our activities for which we would like to utilize the facilities offered by social media channels”, said the Consul General, who appealed to the media persons to participate in posting activities related with the Consulate.
Mrs. Ganguly Das expressed her support to the forthcoming International Hindi Conference and said that she was happy to be involved in preparatory activities immediately after taking over. A green peacock logo was placed on the home page of Consulate website that opens up the pages of the International Hindi Conference which will take place at the Consulate Ball Room from April 29 to May 1st. The conference is being organized in collaboration with Hindi professionals and the Indian American community.
She also informed the audience that her office was planning to hold impressive public programs on the occasion of Yoga Day on June 21st.
Ambassador Das who took questions from the media persons was candid in her answers. When a media person pointed out that Indian Americans hailing from various regions of India liked to celebrate the foundation day of their native states, the Consul General didn’t hesitate to congratulate people who came from a specific Sate of India and favored celebrating formation day of individual states. However, she politely pointed out that all people of Indian origin should celebrate their connection with India as one nation.
Prof. Indrajit S Saluja, Editor of The Indian Panorama made an impassioned plea for liberalizing grant of passport and visa to those who had sought political asylum who had nothing against India but just because they wanted to obtain a permanent residence in the US.
Mr. Vikas Nangia of TV Asia suggested that the Consulate should arrange meetings of the visiting dignitaries from India with the media to enable the media here to understand the Indian government’s views on various issues and to convey to them the Indian American viewpoint. He was promptly supported by Prof. Saluja.
Many others asked questions and made suggestions which the Consul General and other officers of the Consulate listened to and responded.
The Consul General said she was all in favor of an open door policy. She told the audience that she was open to sort out any complaints that werebrought to her notice. “Our doors are open and everyone was welcome to contact us with specific complaints.”