you what the problem is.
The current set of problems arise from the handing
over — the transition — from one service provider to
another service provider. For a variety of reasons, this
transition was very complicated and has not been
In the initial days of why that is so, there is a whole
lot of reasons, but while we appreciate the desire of
people to help, at the end of the day the visa provider
is a company that is selected through a tender. You
can’t substitute that company, you have to work with
So, this company was not selected at the whim and
fancy of somebody?
No, they have come through a process. So, where
those remarks are concerned, I appreciate the sentiments behind those remarks, but frankly that’s not a
solution to my problems.
What we have done is, we have tried to help the
company come up to speed as quickly as we can.
We have really gone to great efforts, and in fairness,
the Indian-American community and… other visa
seekers should also know that.
We have gone to the extent when things were really difficult, where in fact, I had all my consuls-gener-al actually, physically, sitting in these offices.
In Washington, I myself and my deputy we are
going to these offices. I had my staff in all the consular jurisdictions and I am in Washington working
with these people.
There is this perception that staff at the consulates
and the embassy have been apathetic, indifferent —
that they just don’t give a damn.
That’s not true. One, it’s not true because I would
really be a terrible ambassador running a bad
embassy if I was indifferent to my visa and passport
performance. That’s not my self-image and my self-perception.
What we have done is, we have tried to ensure that
the new service provider came up to speed, and I
know that it was a struggle at the initial period.
India’s Ambassador to the United States Dr S Jaishankar said the community’s reception for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, slated for September 28 at Madison
Square Garden, New York City, is an extremely important and
The government of India is hopeful, he said, that it will showcase not just the diversity of India but the diversity of the
Prime Minister Modi is also slated to hold a summit meeting
with President Barack Obama at the White House September
“It’s much too early to talk about what will happen during the
visit,” Ambassador Jaishankar told India Abroad, “with the
exception of one event, for which preparations are already
underway. And that is the community event to be held at
Madison Square Garden… It will be a very important event
because we’ve not had a community event of that scale before.”
He said he wanted to emphasize “that this is truly a commu-
nity event — we want the community to take leadership, we
want the community to take ownership. The embassy will, of
course, always be there in support of the community on this as
in any other activity. But at the end of the day, this has to be
community-led, community-owned event.”
Asked if it would be fully financed by the community too,
Ambassador Jaishankar said, “Well, it’s completely up to them.
And when we say community, again, my expectation is that this
will involve a very broad range of people and a broad range of
organizations — that there will be the widest sense of participa-
tion in this.”
“So, we would not just see the entire diversity of India, we
would also see the diversity of Indian Americans — whether
they are from San Diego, or Seattle, or Florida, or Maine, or
Chicago. We want really everybody to be there to make this a
really successful event.”
He said the reception was a work in progress.
“There is a group of people who have volunteered and taken
it upon themselves to lead the effort, and I am sure they will
get more support and the effort will broad-base itself as it
advances,” he said. “Wherever there is a legitimate requirement,
the embassy will step forward and of course we will take it up.”
He reiterated, “There is so much enthusiasm and people from
the community want to do it. And we should let them do it.”
He pointed out that this would be the only community event
during the visit, even though it is yet to be finalized how long
Prime Minister Modi will spend in Washington, DC.
Administration sources have told India Abroad that the
meeting with Obama is likely to be a working luncheon in the
White House’s East Room, after perhaps a brief Oval Office
photo-op. A state dinner, the sources said, is not in the works at
this point of time.
The White House, the sources pointed out, is besieged by a
plethora of external and internal crises —from Ukraine to the
Israel-Palestine conflict to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, to
the Islamic State’s brutal slaying of journalist James Foley in
Iraq — and has not had a spare moment to discuss the logistics
for Modi’s visit.
When pointed out that not much time is left for the prime
minister’s visit, Ambassador Jaishankar said, “When we have
something to say, we will say it. But at this time, my focus
would be really on getting the community to work well
among themselves so that the Madison Square Garden event
New York event for prime minister is key, Ambassador Jaishankar underlines
ÂI know the
‘People are not taking long-term visas as
much as they should. Maybe the fault is on
our side, maybe we should be sending out
that message louder. But I find that less
than 50 percent of the visas are actually
long duration visas — five to 10 years.
Roughly half the visas are six-month, one-
year visas… It would help us enormously if
people actually apply for longer-term visas
and we would be very happy to give it’
A long line of applicants outside the BLS office in New York share their woes with Norman Solovay, chairman, Indo-American Global Chamber of Commerce, right.
India Abroad August 29, 2014 A7 COVER STORY