CHICAGO – A high profile Indian Foreign Service Officer, Neeta Bhushan is a woman of steel. Currently she is the Consul General of India at Chicago. Her legacy as CG will be that corruption shall not revisit Chicago’s Indian Consulate, and it shall forever remain a “guardian” to the NRIs.
“Consulate is your guardian,” she had announced to the community the very 1st day on her arrival to this Chicago posting. Now 3-years later, one sees a transformed Consulate. Its doors stay open to public. From all over, the NRIs look up to it for support, guidance and advice. Organizations seek “legitimacy.” Destitute women seek solace. This unique achievement is truly a feather in her cap; it’s something that her predecessor miserably failed at.
A great organizer, she put into effect numerous great initiatives all through. Many of these shall go into annals of history for having far reaching positive consequences for India. Transfer of ?600 crore worth of the state-of-the-art ‘Seed Development Technology’ to India’s Andhra Pradesh is one such example. The research facility is coming come up at Kulnoor. Neeta Bhushan was singularly instrumental in getting this high profile pact through. Not only it included the transfer of seed genetics, but the techniques at ‘genetic modification’ as well. India, now a seed-importer, will soon be exporting seeds world over, including to US, over and above its national seed demands.
NB is her initialism. NB means Neeta Bhushan. It also means ‘Neat Business.’ As if the Pied Piper of Hamlin, the economist in Neeta Bhushan drove entire Midwest commerce India-wards. The trade from the 9 US states that she commands shot up to 7036 Million US Dollars. It increases as we read. Illinois alone, where she is headquartered, contributes $2482 Million to this. Her neighbor at Chicago, the Boeing, is supplying 205 aircraft to SpiceJet in India; and another 75 to Jet Airways. Neeta Bhushan’s domain, Midwest, is America’s hub of Meat and Food Industry. It be emphatically mentioned that 53,445.78 Kilos of poultry meat and 21627 units of live poultry have been exported to India. These figures form a roaring introduction to Neeta Bhushan’s endeavors that have resulted in reduction of the trade deficit between US and India.
From the very onset, Neeta Bhushan started with a bang! Yoga Day was her very first signature event that startled the community. Organized in a huge arena, the day-long celebrations were attended by who’s-who of the Midwestern United States. These included several Congressmen, Senators, Corporate Magnets, and Religious leaders. On her behest, a Local Chicago leader reinforced the Yoga Day with a 15-minute long live interview on significant National Public Radio.
In the history of Indian Embassy, Neeta Bhushan has the singular honor of hosting the Presidential visit to Chicago. She hosted the sitting Vice President of India while ensuring full-fledged protocol and impregnable security bubbles. The arrangements involved a series of impossibles that don’t event meet an ordinary eye. It needs an emphatic mention that Neeta Bhushan’s behind-the-scene set-ups contributed big time towards the flawless conduct of the first ever World Hindu Congress that was held in Chicago. Delegations from over 18 countries had sent participated that included a dozen of International leaders; one a ‘Head of a State.’
On Commerce front, the India Business Conference that Neeta Bhushan organized has been a trendsetter for the local leadership-aspirants. Its roaring success with over 450 businessmen in attendance was a road-map for reluctant business organizations to do things the right-way. In a span of few hours, Consul General Neeta Bhushan delivered an introduction to almost all Indian states and their industries, and also have American corporate houses participate in Panel Discussion to seek their way of doing business with India.
Much to the awe of many, Neeta Bhushan has been omnipresent. That way she has been a community person. There has been no organization, whose event Neeta Bhushan has not attended. Such has been her zeal, as I would find her presiding-over over three functions a day, after attending the full day of her office. More so, none has ever been denied her audience. A regular visitor to the Universities and Academic Institutions, Neeta Bhushan has handled the academia with a astute diplomatic skills.
Neeta Bhushan is an eagle-eyed officer. She knows the community threadbare. She wont delegate the accountability to the experience-lacking untrustworthy. But same time she wont annoy them. She knows how to message whose ego, and when. She could maintain a delicate balance amongst the perpetually warring factions of the community. Her this officer-attribute has resulted in Neeta Bhushan being center of attraction all over the Midwest. She has been the favorite of the elderly and the students alike.
Memory be the measure, Neeta Bhushan has been the most photographed amongst the Consul Generals. Her friendly persona has helped her make deep inroads into region’s Politco-Bureaucratic circles. No wonder she could set a new trend by hosting India’s national functions at Chicago’s venues be it Millennium Park or Harris Theatre pro bono.
But her affable persona shrouds an iron-lady. Neeta Bhushan carries an iron hand with a velvet glove on it. Rather than looking the other side, she would catch the bull by the horns and pin it down. One can define her as a “No Non-sense Officer.” And rightly so! After all she hails from a family of legendary bureaucrats. That way she inherited Administration skills as a ‘Sense of Fact’ from her IAS father. When the need arose, she put these to use as her second nature. Neeta Bhushan was quick to catch the chronic corrupt practices from within the Consulate, pinpoint the responsibility, and execute remedial measures. Such was the wrath of her actions, that the offenders tended to take refuge in the lap to local disparaging rowdies. The Result: Consulate rid of malpractices; and Neeta Bhushan victorious in her stance.
With over 25 years experience in her haversack, Neeta Bhushan is a diplometese personified. Pauses and silences are part of her vocabulary. She masters non-answers, and answers alike. She wont answer when its not needed to. But when she does, her responses are extensive, elaborate and accurate.
She is a prolific speaker. In her speeches she supports her arguments with extensive statistics and data. Neeta Bhushan has been the most sought after in the region as a Key Note Speaker. Recently, she was the keynote speaker at the prestigious Allen Lerner Lecture Series at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Besides, she has also addressed Booth School of Business at University of Chicago; University of South Dakota; and the Purdue University. Alongside US Senator Dick Durbin, US Senator Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and several Congressmen, Neeta Bhushan had the honor of breaking ground for Chicago-located Fermi Lab’s new accelerator project (See the top banner photo). This PIP-II Particle Accelerator project comprises construction of a 4-story Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment a mile below the earth’s surface with significant components manufactured and contributed by India. This tech know-how will assist India in its domestic accelerator program especially Indian Spallation Neutron Source Initiative.
All said and done: ‘Sagacious’ is her one word definition. Sagacious she is, didactic not. What could be a her teaching, I pondered! ‘Carry the ordinary along, but don’t settle for the ordinary,’ I deduced.