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Atlanta welcomes its new Consul General, Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni

By Geeta Mehrotra
November 2018
Atlanta welcomes its new Consul General, Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni

(Left) The third and the newest Consul General of India–Atlanta, Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni, addressing the audience. (Photo: ByteGraph)

The Federation of Indian-American Associations – Georgia chapter (FIAA GA) organized a community dinner reception to welcome Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni, the new Consul General of India – Atlanta. Along with 68 Indian associations from Georgia, organizations from Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina joined the reception held at Ashiana Banquet Hall, in Norcross, GA on October 6, 2018.

The evening started with emcee Anjali Tripati inviting Dr. Kulkarni to light the diya. The Ganesh Vandana was sung, followed by Indian and American national anthems. Subash and Raj Razdan welcomed Dr. Kulkarni with a bouquet of flowers.

Vasu Patel, President of FIAA GA, shared the organization’s purpose: by uniting Indian associations under an umbrella organization, to collectively organize some events together to show the local community that we exist and are united—and to encourage everyone to vote, for it is only when we vote that politicians listen, he emphasized. We are strong individually but it is collective effort that is needed, to give Indians a collective voice and strength in government.

Three dances were presented by students of Nritya Natya Kala Bharti Dance and Music Academy, a beautiful display by young artists.

Rina Gupta introduced Dr. Swati Vijay Kulkarni. Dr. Swati is married to Dr. Vijay Kulkarni and has two daughters. She is a career diplomat who holds M.B.B.S from the Government Medical College, Nagpur, India. She joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1995. She recently served as Regional Passport Officer in Mumbai. She has also served as CGI, Cape Town, South Africa, and as Deputy Head of Mission in Muscat, Oman.

Dr. Kulkarni, in her strong voice, began by talking about Sushma Swaraj, the current External Affairs Minister’s example of prompt action and twitter responses. Dr. Kulkarni’s first message is that she plans to build up the Consulate superstructure begun by Ajit Kumar and built upon by Nagesh Singh. 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.

She assured that Atlanta will be one of the stops for dignitary visitors from India. In the past they mostly only visited New York, Washington D.C., and at the most the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Now her office will make sure they detour here and get to know Atlanta.

She humorously brought to our attention that we had 68 organizations present out of more than 200, but when she was in Muscat, Oman there were 3 Indians and 4 organizations. Her strong call for unity was put into effect by her encouragement to start by organizing an upcoming Diwali celebration together.

Everyone was encouraged to follow the Consulate on social media. She introduced her colleagues: Mr. Bikash Kumar (Secretary to CG); Mr. L. T. Ngaihte (Consul, Political and Consular); Mr. Shailesh Lakhtakia (Consul, Head of Chancery, Community Affairs); Mr. Asim Kumar (Consul, Admin.); Mr. P. Jeya Pazham, (Vice Consul); Mr. Pradeep Kumar, (ASO, Accounts); Ms. R. Sethulakshmi (ACO, OCI); Mr. Deepak Kumar (Assistant to CG, Visa), PA; and Mr. Prasad Vanpal (Marketing).


(Left) Vasu Patel, President of FIAA-GA (speaking), along with the rest of the team. (Photo: ByteGraph)

Vasu Patel acknowledged achievers in the room: Smt. Swati A. Dandekar, former Iowa State Senator who served as an ambassador for Asian Development Bank, appointed by ex-President Obama; Nitin Shah; Kusum Khurana; Shiv Agrawal; Sneha Mehta; Gokul Kunnath; Subash Razdan; representatives of Shakti Mandir and Gujarati Samaj; and Drs. Naresh and Asha Parikh, Dr. Naresh Parikh being president of AAPI, which has a real voice in Washington.

He then introduced his partial Executive Committee as he is hoping to add more members from different organizations: Rajeev Menon - Secretary, Sanjay Prakash - Treasurer, Rina Gupta, Kaushal Tripathi, Tejas Patwa, Karunakar Adireddy, Srinivas Lavu, Pravin Patel, Sanjay Prakash, Mahesh Pawar, and Mandar Vengurlekar.

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