Ravindra Dave Editor-in Chief of Rashtra Darpan had a free and frank
talk with Hon. Nagesh Singh on his taking over as Consulate General.
Below is the dialogue they had on 29th June. 2015.
- Q: Firstly, welcome to Atlanta? How are you adjusting to the city? What have you seen so far?
Answer: Thank you very much. My family and I are happy to be here in this lovely and welcoming city. It has been slightly over a week since our arrival from India so we have basically just gone around in the city. We have much more to see and do in the coming weeks and months.
- Q: There is general consensus among the Indians in Atlanta that the services at the Consulate are more or less satisfactory. There are complaints of long processing times and such. What is being done to tackle these issues? Are you starting any grievance cell in your office with a mention in your website?
Answer :What I have gathered in my short stay here so far is that by and large we have been prompt in rendering visa and other consular services to the people. There are slightly longer timelines related to passport and OCI card services but these are due to procedural issues beyond the control of the Consulate. Nevertheless, we will continuously work, with sincerity and commitment, towards improving ourselves so that there is no room for any complaint. As for the grievance cell, all officials of the Consulate, including myself, will work for redressal of grievances, if any. Towards this end, our contact numbers and emails have been put on the website. We are available 24X7 for this purpose.
- Q: Does the Consulate have regular system of interaction with the Indians, listening to their grievances/problems and sorting them out. If not, is the Consulate planning to have such a periodic interaction sessions?
Answer :Yes on every working day of the week from 1000-1230 hours anyone can come to the Consulate to share their problems and grievances. My colleagues and I are available to listen to them and to solve their issues to the best of our abilities and competence.
- Q: Atlanta is a busy city and the value of time is extremely high. In such cases, some people cannot come to the Consulate in person. What facilities are there for people to apply for consular or passport services in-absentia?
Answer :Postal services are available for all visa/passport & other consular services, if someone wants to avoid coming to the Consulate in person.
- Q: What do you expect from the Indian community when they visit the Visa or other related Services like OCI etc ? Or what should people keep in mind when they come to the consulate office for needed services?
Answer: I think what they should do is to read the instructions for various services carefully so that they carry the required documents for that particular service. They should also keep in mind that the Consulate does not frame the rules and regulations. These are done at the level of the Government of India and for good reasons. We merely implement them. So please be patient with us. We are there to serve you.
- Q: What steps is the Indian Consulate is taking to promote Indian products/business in US? We have many business organizations who promote trade with India. How would you like to encourage these organizations so that they have full support from Consulate General?
Answer: Promotion of bilateral economic and commercial relations between India, Georgia and other Southeastern states in our jurisdiction is amongst the primary tasks of Consulate General of India, Atlanta. The Consulate can play a vital role as a facilitator and a repository of information for business opportunities, both trade and investment, that exist for Indian companies here in United States and for American companies in India. We also need to effectively convey the clear message that the new Indian Government is committed to making India amongst the foremost countries vis-à-vis ease of doing business. Finally, we can also act as an honest business dispute resolution mechanism. In this context, we shall work with all credible business organizations and groups to take forward our common objectives so that it’s a ‘win-win’ proposition for all..
- Q: In Atlanta the Indian missions are organizing various cultural activities like Indian dances, stage shows, food festivals etc. We are happy Consulate General office have actively participated in celebrating International Yoga day as per the instruction of MEA. Will you also participate with cultural activities organized by Indian organizations with active support??
Answer :Indian culture is a powerful tool for Indian diplomacy. We are proud of our cultural heritage given its global acceptance and popularity, whether it Indian dance, music, cuisine, couture, art or cinema. This Consulate will actively support and participate in cultural activities organized by various Indian groups. It is of utmost importance to us as finally it is our culture, among other things, that binds the diaspora to the mother country.
- Q: Is this your first visit to USA or you have worked as a consular in USA in past?
Answer :I have worked in New York from 2006-2010. However, it wasn’t in the Consulate General of India but in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.
- Q:How do you rate your experience to deal with Indian diaspora verses dealing with other non-Indian community leaders?
Answer :It’s a pleasure and privilege dealing with the Indian diaspora. They are amongst the primary reasons we are here. We are proud of their achievements and the good name they have brought to the mother country through their industry, integrity and success
- What are your objectives and goals in your role as consul general in Atlanta?
Answer : My overall goal as Consul General is to further strengthen the ever growing and multi-faceted India US bilateral relations, with our focus on Georgia and other states in our jurisdiction. This would include promotion of political ties, economic & commercial relations, culture etc. People are at the center of this Consulate’s functioning and goals. Hence, we would like to serve the people of this region who come to us for various services by providing efficient, predictable and expeditious consular and visa services.
- Q: Through serving Indian community in various parts of the world, what have you learnt about the special characteristics of Indians? Whether they differ from country to country or are almost similar?
Answer :There is a commonality of trait that runs through Indian communities in various parts of the world. As I said, Indians are well known and admired globally for their hard work, integrity, diligence, academic excellence, law abiding nature and capacity to adapt. They have made valuable contributions to their host countries and enriched those societies through their multifarious contributions in political, economic, social and cultural spheres. It is also true that each country has its own specific challenges and opportunities which shape the way in which its resident communities evolve over a period of time.
- Q: How will you improve Indo-US engagements specifically for Atlanta/Georgia?
Answer :As I mentioned earlier, promotion of trade and investments on both sides, cooperation in agriculture, education, skill development, healthcare, clean energy, infrastructure development, especially ports & airports, etc are some of the areas where there is tremendous scope for mutually beneficial cooperation between Atlanta, Georgia and India. We will work on realizing the opportunities that exist in all these areas.
- Q: How will you ensure the Atlanta Consulate will not have problems similar to those had in past? Do you have the support and resources from the Ministry of External Affairs to avoid such a sad state of affairs?
Answer :Let us look ahead and hope for a better future. I can assure you on behalf of our team at the Consulate and on my own behalf that we are going to be available 24X7 to anyone who needs us. We are here to serve the people and provide services in the most efficient and predictable manner. We would do our best and if there is any shortfall, please give us the feedback and we will try our best to rectify those. In case the solutions are beyond our authority or competence, we will take them up vigorously with the competent authorities to resolve these issues, if any.
- How do you think you will keep equilibrium and harmony amongst mutually competitive parties when working with them?
Answer : My mantra is to keep the channels of communication open with everyone and at all times. Dialogue, free and frank, amongst all concerned parties is the best way to resolve matters and create a harmonious environment.