The South Asian Times

19 October 2019 02:02 AM

Amb. Mulay launches new outreach program: 'Consulate At Your Doorstep'

By Jinal Shah

New York: Ever since he took charge as Consul General of India in New York, Amb. Dnyaneshwar Mulay has introduced many programs to bridge the gap between the Consulate and the ever growing Indian community. One initiative he recently rolled out is ‘Consulate at your doorstep’,  an outreach program to not only improve relationship between the Consulate and the community, but also to further the programs introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India.

Ambassador Mulay shared his vision behind this program with The South Asian Times. Excerpts from the exclusive interview:
The South Asian Times: Can you share a little bit about your outreach program that you are currently undertaking?

Ambassador Mulay: Our approach has been to build partnerships with the community and that partnership should be based on mutual trust and something that will help in the empowerment of the community here in America, their improved role in building relations between India and US and helping out in their desire to contribute towards India’s development in whatever field they desire. But to do this, we needed to improve relationship and increase interactions between the community and the consulate. So we have started many activities in the consulate that include improved consular services, monthly lecture series, and India state by state where we focus on the states and events which are specific to Indian films, fashion, cuisine and sports -- because these are the areas which are not been really highlighted by the consulate in the past. Along with improving the services and arranging special events we are now bringing into focus new programs that Prime Minister Modi’s government is emphasizing as part of our outreach program.

What are these programs?

Amb. Mulay: They are Digital India, Make in India, building smart cities, Swachch Bharat and several other programs which are energy related, climate change related etc. We have been doing outreach work for past one and half years where my officers and I are individually speaking to the people in the community in different states, but from January onwards we are doing it in systematic manner. We call this outreach ‘consulate at your doorstep’.

How different is this outreach program than the previous ones?

Amb. Mulay: ‘Consulate at your doorstep’ is a brainchild of this consulate to bridge the gap between people and the consulate. So what do we do in this? We contact business community, chambers of commerce, other major organizations of that state (we have 10 states in our jurisdiction), including the governor, mayor, US Congress members, senate members and the Indian community. We generally go for a two day program: on the first day we have meetings with political officials - mayor, congressmen and other government officials and also prominent business community, who need not be Indian Americans. I apprise them of India’s development, India’s place in the world including ties with the US and request them to participate in this relationship in an active manner. First by talking more about India-US relationship, then proactively help empowering our community and finally lead a delegation to India. 

US secretary of State John Kerry said that trade between the two countries should grow from $100 billion to $500 billion. It will happen only if there is a groundswell and we are trying to create that groundswell.

To the business community we give the latest overview of the business opportunities in India, government policies, liberalization, reforms and this creates a healthy environment.

Day 2 is devoted to the community of which Indian community forms a prominent part. We had a huge response both in New Jersey and Boston. 

You take a delegation of people with you, can you share who are in the team?

Amb. Mulay: We generally take 15-30 people including our visa service providers CKGS, CEOs of the Indian banks in New York, Air India CEO, Indian Tourism officers, travel agents specializing in India, representatives of CII and FICCI and from Washington US-India Business Council.  On the second day we set up a visa camp for those who want to submit their long term visa application, OCI, PIO application forms physically so that they don’t have to line up in New York. The camp is followed by a huge direct interface program with the people where I first give an overview of our relationship and various programs. There are individual presentations from the members of the delegation.  

 What has been the response from the community?

Amb. Mulay: For the visa camp 150-200 people applied which was a very good turnout. Generally people still tend to focus on passport-visa issues. I don’t blame them because we have not tried to tell them that the relationship is bigger and they need to take interest. But passport and visa is a bread and butter issue. So, slowly they are taking interest in India’s development from philanthropic activities to going back to India, they are opening up to discuss issues in doing business with states to law and order situation prevailing in India.

Is New York the only consulate doing outreach program of this kind?

Amb. Mulay: Absolutely, but others might follow. We keep our embassy in Washington and Ministry of External Affairs informed.

Can you talk a little bit about Make in India campaign promotion?

Amb. Mulay: For my outreach program I also take my officers with me. They make presentations on various things like visa-passport issues, commercial economic relations and in that we cover Make in India campaign. We distribute special Make in India pen drives and hard copies that detail various programs currently underway in India.

What is the follow-up to these outreach programs?

Amb. Mulay: For the other programs, the idea of outreach is not really to generate any concrete business. It is supposed to generate long term sustainable interest in and support to India, which in turn will give rise to a lot of activities in terms of participation with the consulate but yes the moment we came back there was much positive feedback we received.

How do you intend to grow the outreach program?

Amb. Mulay: We are going to all 10 states: Connecticut on April 10, Ohio on May 15, Philadelphia on June 12. And so on.

After the success of Madhya Pradesh Conclave are there any other state representatives coming to the US?

Amb. Mulay: Chief ministers of both Rajasthan and Maharashtra have expressed their interest to come in June and July respectively.

Update: 20 March, 2015