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To the Consul General Sanjay Panda:

Thank you so much for organizing Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas celebration on Sunday January 12, 2020. I went to the event with great pride of being a Pravasi Bharatiya but with moderate expectations of engagement. I was pleasantly surprised by the way you were able to engage all of us. It was a new event, different in format and content from the other events the consulate conducts.

Those who have lived in the SF Bay Area of Northern California for many years have had the opportunity to interact with the Consul Generals and officers of the consulate on a regular basis. Since you have taken over, I have noticed a very distinct shift in the style to connect with the Indian diaspora. You have connected with us not as an officer of the Indian union but as an individual like us, a family man. Last Sunday, it didn’t feel like a bureaucrat was talking to us but as our friend was conversing with us. I greatly admire your effort to connect with the diaspora as a family.

It was an added treat that the honorable G. Parthasarathy joined this event. I take pride in having read almost everything he has written in the public domain in the last 50 years and therefore I highly respect him for his and his family’s service to India. It was a treat for people like me who are lifelong students of India’s defense and foreign policy matters. Thank you for this master stroke. 

Your candid admission of differences of opinion in your own household as regards article 370 abrogation and CAA in India made you one of us. In my opinion article 370 abrogation was an overdue item for the Government of India (GoI) and it was accomplished with the greatest of political acumen. The passage through the Indian parliament was well planned and executed superbly.

However, I am not sure if the media, particularly the western media, was managed effectively. There was a consistent media focus against the actions of GoI. This was understandably led by the New York Times and the Washington Post. It appeared as though these journals were writing opinions to fit a predetermined narrative.

 But what was surprising was the near total absence of any counter-narrative. I believe Indians living in the “Second India” (Outside of India) would like to know why we cannot educate the media about the reasons behind article 370 abrogation? Can we not prearrange meetings with think-tanks and with major media channels (print and electronic) to educate them on the subject matter? We eventually ended up doing that, late in the game, when honorable Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar addressed marathon meetings with think-tanks in Washington D.C. I wish it had not happened as an afterthought.

I appreciated the free-wheeling Q&A session with the attendees – this was a first! There is no doubt that the consulate services have improved over the years. I would like to make a simple suggestion to make communication from the consulate more effective. Any push-communication (e.g. a policy change or a directive) from the consulate cannot be effective if the consulate webpage is considered a primary channel for push.

Consulate webpage only serves the purpose of learning details and follow up actions. Communication needs to be pushed in every public channel, such as ethnic Indian media channels like India Currents, to drive readers to the consulate webpage. India Currents will be happy to publish announcements of policy changes from the consulate. This will make the consulate communication more effective.

The Indian diaspora is committed to the development and growth of India.

With best wishes,
Vijay Rajvaidya
Managing Director
India Currents, Inc.

 

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