The Consulate General of India in New York is where every Indian living in New York visits at least once a year. The Consulate is planning a grand Event to celebrate the 70th Independence of India on August 15th this year.
The Consul General of India Mrs. Riva Ganguly Das whom I met at the Consulate informed me that the Mayor had granted special permission to cordon off the 64th entire street from 5th Avenue till Madison and put up a large Indian flag and organize cultural programs in front of the Consulate on that day. Minister of State for External Affairs Mr. M J Akbar will grace the occasion and hoist the National flag and also ring the Closing Bell at the NYSE that day. Being a Woman adds a special flavor to a position and “I am trying my best to get as many people involved and enthused as possible and streamline many things to make it easier for people” the CG said. We touched upon a variety of subjects informally and my involvement with the MEA. I told her that I was heading a Cultural Troupe to South Africa in the early 90’s when Mr. Vikas Swarup (now the Spokesperson of the MEA) was the Under Secretary at the South Africa desk and was of immense help and assisted on that score. “Oh he is myBatch mate” she quipped.
Quite a friendly, informal statement from a diplomat. The CII was organizing a Tourism promotion event just after my meeting with her and she rushed out to attend it. Later I met up with the Members of the Overseas Citizen of India ( OCI) Team. The process is really quite simple and it is all “on line” I was informed. Also the Passport takes just about 48 hours to get back to the Applicant! Be Indian and Stay Indian is the promotional song.