India’s new consul general in Atlanta was welcomed by nearly 70 Indian organizations at a banquet that drew attendees from across the region she covers.
Swati Vijay Kulkarni, a medical doctor by training and a diplomat with more than two decades experience, spent the evening of Oct. 6 with community groups from Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and beyond. The Indian consulate covers the community in six states and two territories.
According to the Indian community magazine Khabar, the reception at Ashiana banquet hall included a variety of speeches and presentations by community leaders, as well as cultural performances. It was organized by the Federation of Indian-American Associations – Georgia, an umbrella group that aims to better knit together the broader Indian community.
Much was made of improving such collaboration, a point to which Dr. Kulkarni reportedly alluded in a speech outlining plans to build on previous Consul General Nagesh Singh’s efforts and to improve the consulate’s digital services and responsiveness.
Khabar outlined the practical ways she plans to enhance outreach to an Indian community that is both diverse culturally and dispersed geographically:
Her vision is to unite Indian organizations by setting up a training program for two volunteers from each organization to communicate with the rest of the community. She spoke of programs that she will be working on to provide better services to Indians coming to the USA to study or work. She asked organizations to register at the consulate, provide their cultural calendar, and plan events 6-12 months out so that she can attend major events. Since she will be traveling to 6 states and 2 districts and would like to interact, this will help her plan her travels accordingly.
One salient point for those wishing to improve Atlanta’s standing as a destination for Indian investment: Dr. Kulkarni pledged to lobby for the city to be a stop on the tours of high-ranking delegations visiting the U.S. Too often, she reportedly said, they stop at major cities and miss out on the opportunities in the Southeast region. This was also a point often raised by Mr. Singh, her predecessor, who is now head of protocol for the Indian foreign ministry.
As if to prove her point, Dr. Kulkarni this Sunday hosted at the consulate in Sandy Springs inister of State for External Affairs General (Dr.) Vijay Kumar Singh, who unveiled the Passport Sewa project designed to make it easier for Indian citizens abroad to renew and update their documents.
Dr. Kulkarni’s most recent appointment before coming to Atlanta was as head of the passport office in Mumbai. Before that, she was deputy chief of mission in Oman and consul general in Cape Town, South Africa.
Dr. Singh also was on hand for the unveiling of the Southeast regional branch of the National Indian American Chamber of Commerce.
More from the Khabar story here.