INDIA ABROAD January 20, 2017 T2 NY/NJ/CT
By P. Rajendran
here could not have
been a more Indian
place than the Royal
Albert’s Palace in
Fords, New Jersey, for
the local community to
welcome newly appointed Indian
Ambassador Navtej Sarna, Jan. 12.
The location has statues of elephants with Indian royalty atop
them, a four-foot-high golden
Ganesh, walls covered with deep
gold floral motifs, and a stage
flanked by the U.S. and Indian
flags, each more than 30 feet tall.
The event began at 6 pm and,
fueled by hors d’oeuvres and
fuelled by drinks, the conversation got more genial as the
evening grew older, and well past
the time for the actual reception.
Besides communtiy leaders
and business people, there were
also a host of Sikhs from various
gurdwaras waiting to see Sarna
who has also authored books
with themes from Sikh history.
The hubbub around a moving
cluster of people heralded the
arrival of Ambasador Sarna with
India’s Consul General in New
York Riva Das Ganguly.
Sarna, who has worked in the
U.S. before, has also held posts as
India’s ambassador to Israel and
its high commissioner in the
United Kingdom before taking up
his current post.
Thereafter, members of the
communty got around to wel-
coming him, with Federation of
India Chairman Ramesh Patel
including a request to address the
issue of the conversion of Indian
rupees, and H.R. Shah of TV Asia
extolling him with poetry.
When Sarna got up to speak,
he played down the praise and
then spoke of how effective
Indians had been in making a difference in the U.S., despite their
“We are in very interesting
times in the U.S,” he said,
adding, “We are confident the
India-U.S. relationship is in a
very good place…. We solicit
your influence to get across the
message of India.”
He said the Indians’ strength
lay in knowledge.
Artist Manoj Vyas had painted
a portrait of Sarna, which he pre-seneted to the ambassador.
Raj Mukherji, an N.J.
Assemblyman who came late,
came up to speak and, while
apologizing for his lateness, said
he was attending the swearing-in of Gurbir Grewal, the first
South Asian prosecutor in
He also gave a state proclamation to celebrate the role of FIA,
and then went on to ask people
in the community to get involved
in the political process.
“If we don’t get a seat at the
table, we’re on the menu,” he
joked, if only to make a point.
The evening ended with an
Tristate Area Community Hosts
Reception for New Indian Envoy
Ambassador Sarna spoke of how effective Indians had been in making a difference in the U.S.
The audience stands up for the national anthems of the U.S. and India
There were a
host of Sikhs
waiting to see
Above, Ambassador Navtej Singh Sarna speaking at the event.
Below, artist Manoj Vyas presents Sarna with a painting of himself