LONG BEACH, CA – Ambassador Dr.S.Jaishankar made his inaugural visit to the Southland and met with the Indian-American community at a dinner event held here, at the Hilton Hotel, on May 11. Current heads of various community organizations were present at the reception and eagerly impressed upon him...
Accompanied by Consul General N.Parthasarathi from San Francisco, the Indian envoy to the U.S. responded to what he heard with two broad points: Indo-U.S. relations have come a long way and; the Indian-American community has helped toward this.
He said there was “no walk in life that remained untouched,” by Indo-US relations. The two nations, he said were “political partners”, had strong security and defense ties, and trade agreements that ran to the tune of $120 billion in goods and services. There was also a “large civil society connect,” Jaishankar said, citing climate change discussions and the moon mission, among others. Recalling his time 30 years ago when he was staffed by the Indian government to Congress, he said he would have a lot of explaining to do, but now his twice weekly visits to the Hill had a different tenor, with Congressional representatives reaching out to India. Corporate America and small businesses too he said, have their eye on India, in the event that they already did not have a presence there. The relations between the two, Jaishankar said, was “broad and getting deeper,” but there was much left to do. The game changer, he declared, was the Indian-American community. Referring to the success stories in business, academics and philanthropy that the various speakers of the evening had brought to his notice, he reiterated that the individual Indian-American’s accomplishment translated into the community’s improved standing in America and that in turn made his job as ambassador and the Indian government’s task, that much more easier. He also pointed out that the community’s success in the U.S., acted as a catalyst for change in India. Parthasarathi too kept his speech simple and to the point saying that the community had allowed the word ‘Indian’ to be equated with intelligence, family values and as citizens who contributed to society. “The more you contribute,” he said, “the more proud you are of calling yourself Indian.”
The only reference to the elections in India came from him in relation to the move by the community to formalize the remembrance of the Gaddar movement in the U.S. Plans had taken a backseat because of the polls, he said. On another note, while no reference was made to this at the event itself, media reports from India have suggested that a new government would also mean changes in the Delhi bureaucracy with Jaishankar’s name figuring in the speculation as a likely candidate for the NSA.
Parthasarathi referred to the new company that will be taking over passport and visa services while lauding the Ambassador for making the decision to change the firm. It may be recalled that BLS International which had been outsourced the work by the Embassy, had had at least 70 passports stolen from its San Francisco office in Nov.2013, prompting the Consulate to contact federal authorities and cancel the missing documentation. Earlier, the event began with organizer Inder Singh welcoming and introducing the various community members present. He also invited Anju Garg, Maqbool Qadri, Iqbal Samra, Gunjan Bagla, Kewal Kanda, Ashok Patnaik, A. J. Dudheker, Vasu Pawar, Kirtan Singh, Ashok Madan and Ramesh Mahajan to come up in turn to speak of the various aspects of Southern California’s Indian-American community. He also recognized youth who had come in from San Diego who had perfect SAT scores this year. City of Cypress Councilman Prakash Narain extolled his city and spoke of Oxford Academy, the school which he said is ranked number one in the state and of how he had hosted a member of the Chattisgarh state government who had taken interest in understanding the functioning of the library system. According to him this was an indication of Indo-US ties percolating down. Inder Singh concluded the event by thanking the various organizations that had supported the event which was followed by photo-ops and dinner.