New York, NY: GOPIO officers, chapter delegates and a selected group of GOPIO Life Members from the New York Tri-State region met India’s new Consul General in New York Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das and other Consuls on March 30th at the Indian Consulate and had a fruitful interactive session on community issues and how the Indian American community can effectively be involved in India’s development.
According to a press release issued by GOIPIO, Consul General Das welcomed the GOPIO delegation and said that GOPIO is an important organization to interact since GOPIO reaches out all sections of our community. Dr. Mohapatra explained on the current consular services provided from the Consulate and steps taken to improve and make it easier for the community.
Apart from Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, other officials present from the Consulate at the meeting were Deputy Consul General Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, Consul Sandeep Kumar (Passport and Visa), Vice Consul Sandeep Grover (OCI) and Passport Officers Devvrat Chakravarthy and Suman Bala.
The meeting was organized by GOPIO’s Tristate New York Coordinator Lal Motwani and was attended by the newly elected International Coordinator for North America Dr. Rajeev Mehta and delegates from GOPIO-New York, GOPIO-Upper New York, GOPIO-Connecticut and GOPIO-Central Jersey and many Life Members who have served in various capacities in the past. Dr. Thomas Abraham, GOPIO Founder President and Executive Trustee of GOPIO Foundation brought some of the community issues and many avenues where the community and the Consulate could cooperate for mutual benefits. These included the following:
Increased cooperation with the Consulate and Indian Community (Consulate celebrations of national events and festivals, consulate representation at Indian community meetings, participation in Consulate’s lecture/seminar series, Meeting with Indian delegation, etc.); Utilizing community contacts with elected officials for promoting Indian’s causes; Reaching out next generation Indian Americans and involving them for India’s causes; Issuance of Visa and Passport in emergencies; Improving consular services and shortening delay in OCI card issuance; Improving services by Cox and Kings and BLS International; Emergency help for Indian citizens in time of distress, death, etc.; Reaching out and interacting with the PIO communities in the New York area (large Indo-Caribbean community); and Promoting India to general American public.
Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das reinforced the importance of the community reaching out the elected officials and interacting with the new generations of Indian Americans. Dr. Mohapatra told that the passport services from BLS International will be taken over Cox and Kings and he would make sure the transition is smooth. He also suggested the community to write to email@example.com for any visa, passport and OCI 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.”
For more information on GOPIO, contact Lal K. Motwani, GOPIO Coordinator for New York Tri-State Area. Tel: Tel: 516-581-3332, firstname.lastname@example.org