Atlanta, GA: The Indo-American communities of Georgia put their most festive foot forward recently as it played host to welcome India’s second Consul General to Atlanta. The excitement was palpable. Spirits were high, decorations and lighting abundant and the mood was energized as a phenomenal turnout of over 360 attendees representing some 120-plus organizations (large and small across the state) gathered for a rousing welcome to Nagesh Singh, Consul-General of India, the consulate staff members, leaders from the community, dignitaries, politicians and legislators at the Bombay Grill in metro Atlanta. Consul General Nagesh Singh was also accompanied by his wife Pragya Singh, son Yashovarman and daughter Yashasvini at the banquet.
Singh, who demanded that he be referred to by his first name without the usual honorary titles, comes with 20 years of distinguished service toIndia. His appointments have included being Officer on Special Duty/Joint Secretary to the Vice President of India, Director, Private Secretary to the Minister of State, and Under Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. He served as Counselor on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs in the Indian Permanent Mission to the United Nations Organization inNew York. He has also served in the Indian Embassy in Dakar,Senegal and other countries of the world.
Rounding out the speakers who offered welcome/greetings and accolades was Subash Razdan, master of ceremony, who got the program started with renderings of the Star Spangled anthem by the talented teenager Shloka Danave and Jana Gana Mana anthem by melodious Indrani Danave with the flags of Indiaand USA in full sight across the dais.
Traditional bouquet presentations welcomed the chief guests Consul General Singh (presented by Sneha Mehta), Pragya Singh (by Indra Shah), Mayor Rusty Paul and his wife Jan Paul (by Rina Gupta), Councilman Kwanza Hall and Natalie Hall, Consul D.V. Singh (by Anoop Kapoor), Consul R. Srinivasan (by Vasav Mehta), Geet-Rung Divya School and many other dignitaries.
The Consul General with total humility reciprocated by presenting bouquets to several prominent Atlanta residents and organizations including Wayne Lazarus of SLC, LLP, Mahesh & Smita Patel, Shiv & Anushi Aggarwal of Global Mall, Ravi Chander, C.B. Yadav, Neera Bahl & Shilpa Jadwani, Attorneys, Anis Sherali and Drs. Prasad Garimella & S.R. Gangasani who had sponsored the event.
Supporting sponsors The Event Designer/Photographers (Shahid Ali, Sadaf Farooqui and Nabeel Khan), D.J Raven Sound (Rudy Narine), Davis Printing (Sanjay Pandya) and Bombay Grill also pitched in the festivities.
It was then the turn of the young to display their own welcome. The teenagers from Geet-Rung (Divya) School put on a dazzling folk performance of “Govinda Gopala” dance with a blend of dandia raas and garba.
Dhiren Shah, one of the volunteers who helped with the banquet, welcomed the gathering officially expressing, “Today’s banquet in your honor reflects India’s traditional concept of unity amongst diversity in presence of the leaders/representatives of over 100 Indian American organizations of GA-a microcosm of a mini India of various religious faiths, diverse socio/economic/political groups and art/music/language entities.”
Interfaith invocations/greetings followed and delivered succinctly and with reverence by Niranjan Dave (Hindu), Manohar Singh/Bhai Karnail Singh (Sikh), Hasan Kamal (Muslim), Younis Farhat (Christian), Sunil Dosi (Jain), Beheruz Sethna (Zorastrian) and Tara Khanna (Buddhist), in moving words of veneration, blessings and best wishes.
Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall (greeted by Manjit Singh of the community with a traditional flower bouquet), addressed the expansive audience with his welcome remarks, “ Being here and feeling the enthusiasm here in this room is really special.” Hon. Hall acknowledged the CGI for their support in planning his last visit to India in January earlier this year.
Mayor Rusty Paul ofS andy Springs and wife Jan Paul, (greeted by Seema Kapoor and Rina Gupta respectively), conveyed his own warm welcome. The Mayor remarked that, “the vision of the former Mayor of Sandy Springs late Eva Galambos and the Indian American community in bringing the Indian Consulate toSandy Springshas been followed by several other Consulates moving to the city.” Mayor Paul further added, “Sandy Springswas a rare city that had its own Foreign Policy.”
Consul General Singh, introduced by Sneha Mehta, in his brief keynote address conveyed a message of friendship, dynamic service and optimism. He emphatically commented on the fellowship and collaboration between all the community organizations reflected in the event, adding, “My family and I are deeply touched and overwhelmed by the support and friendship of the gathering here,” assuring, “ We can do a lot of good work reinforcing Indo-US relations in the spirit of President Obama’s ‘defining partnership of the 21st Century’ along with our mainstream friends Mayor Rusty Paul and Councilman Kwanza Hall and so many others who are present here tonight”. He inspired the community as he commended them for showing the dedication and the foresight to care as much about their land of origin as their land of adoption assuring that the Consulate General of India (CGI) will strive to serve the Indo-American community and accomplish the mandated goals of the Government of India with dedicated service for the Indian diaspora.
Viswanath Ganti delivered the vote of thanks, which was followed by an exotic and delicious dinner catered by Bombay Grill. During the meet & greet and the photo-op, the clamor for group/table photos with the obliging Consul General was cherished. It may be said that no one spent a quiet evening, judging by the animated discussions and meeting of friends in the community. The décor and ambience (Event Designer) of the event came in for much praise as well.