Interview : Ambassador Prabhu Dayal

Q. In your time as the Consul General ofIndia in New York, what were the mostsignificant highs and lows that youexperienced?
Well, New York is the center of theUniverse. Although I have served in manyother places, I would say the stint in NewYork is different because of the sheerbunch of activities here. I enjoyed everysingle moment. I wouldn’t say I had anylows. Of course there was the court casewhich was filed by my former domesticassistant which gave me a certain amountof stress. But that is happily now out of theway. That has been settled. As far as myhighs, I had several many because NewYork is the best. East or West, New York isthe best. I really enjoyed my posting here.Particularly for the fact that I came to suchclose contact with some of the mostdistinguished members of the Indo-American community. And the IndianAmerican community of New York is veryvibrant. It is a bridge of friendship withIndia and the United States of America.This is the high point, so to say as I had theopportunity to serve such a vibrantcommunity.

Q.Most people find the easiest way tosettle in America and get a Green Card isby coming in the country as a domesticservant. You have suffered significantlydue to the conniving schemes of suchpeople. What is your opinion aboutIndians who do such things?
I have nothing to comment on that. Firstof all, it was a court case that has beensettled. I do not want to really go into anyother aspect to suggest if this is commonin the community. I have the highestrespect for the American judiciary which Ihave seen at close quarters.

Q. You described the Indian communitysettled here as vibrant. How would youdefine this vibrancy of the IndianAmerican community?
The Indian American community hassucceeded in all areas of activities. Such asbusiness, architecture, literature, culture,journalism, finance, etc. So this success isan account to the fact that this is a veryintellectually stimulating group. So it hasachieved this high level of success becauseit is a group that has a very high level ofcompetency. My experience recalls thecommunity as vibrant which goes down tothe fact that this very intellectual group ofpeople.

Q. Do you see any weaknesses in thecommunity? What are your suggestionsto address these shortcomings?
There are strengths and weaknesses inall communities. Sometimes I feel that thecommunity could be more united. This wayit would be able to get its act together asone community. We have too manydivisions. We have Punjabis, Malyalees,Gujaratis, etc. Although they do all cometogether on many occasions such as theIndia Day parade but they can be morehomogenous. Because one they come outIndia, it doesn’t matter what state, city orreligion they come from. The only thingthat matters is that they are all Indians.Americans only treat them as Indians notas Indians belonging to different states. Sowe must be more homogenous and unitedand in doing so we will be able to bring theIndian American relationship even closer.

Q.You took a number of initiatives tointegrate the India America community.The Indian Consulate was open to allcommunities. Do you believe that wasright things to do or do you have anyregrets?
Absolutely not, the consulate has alwaysopened its door for its community and it ispart of our mandate and responsibilities toserve this community in any way possible.We cannot do this by hiding behind closeddoors. So I try to organize many events forthis cause. Such as all the days of nationalimportance or Christmas, Eid andHanukkah for the Indian Jewishcommunity. We have organized manyevents were distinguished musicians fromIndia have performed for the communityhere. My only regret is that perhaps Ihaven’t done as much as I could have. Butthere are always many restraints onaccount of time or on account of the factthat the people in New York city are verybusy. Now that my term is coming to anend, I am reminded of the lines that say,”Fakirana Aaye Sada Kar Chale , MiyanKhush Raho Hum Dua Kar Chale”

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Q. In the troubled times that we live in itdoesn’t take too long to have discord orconflicts to destroy a good relationshipsuch as the one of India and America.What would be your word of advice foryour successor who will take up thepost?
My successor should continue theefforts of all the Indian Americandiplomats here to both the communitiescome together. Ultimately, it is up to thecommunity to take the significant steps tomake this happen. We must realize that anIndian outside is just and Indian. If theyare in America then we are an IndianAmerican. And all the differences wecreated on the basis of geography orreligion or linguistics must be eliminated.This way we can strengthen ourrelationship with America even moresuccessfully.

Q. Do you have any message for the Indo-American community here?
My message to them is that they shouldcontinue to do the great work they havebeen doing. They have been a bridge offriendship between India and America.And they should continue to work atstrengthening this relationship.

Q. Mr. Dayal, what are your future plans?
Live life to fullest. I haven’t reallydecided to do with the remains of my life.There are a million ideas in my mind, butthere aren’t any clear agendas. For the nearfuture, maybe play gold, meet and greet ourfamily in India that would be theuppermost priority.

Q. Mrs. Dayal, you are the first lady ofthis India away from India. How wouldyou recount your experience with theIndian American community here?
They have been very affectionate andextremely supportive and I wish them thevery best. They have a special place in ourhearts. We will miss them. We go todifferent countries and we have to leavethem to go to another place. That is howour life is. So no matter where we went, wehave a special place in our hearts for allthe lovely people we met.

Q. What is your most memorableexperience, Mrs. Dayal?
I enjoyed all the times when I met newpeople. I also loved the times when mychildren come to visit me. So, in all, Ienjoyed every moment of it all.

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