By Ravi R. Ponangi
Atlanta, GA: Nirupama Rao, Indian Ambassador to the United States, declared open the Consulate General of India here on October 22. US Representative Rob Woodall (R-7 District of GA); Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos; chairman of Democratic Party of Georgia Michael Berlon; Susan Berlon, Dean of the Consular Corps in Atlanta; Consul General of Switzerland in Atlanta Claudio Leoncavallo and many members of the Indian American community attended the event. The Indian Consulate is located in a palatial building purchased by the government of India, at 5549 Glen Ridge Drive NE, Atlanta, GA-30342.
Ajit Kumar, a senior diplomat, who represented India in Germany, South Africa, Zimbabwe and many other countries, is India’s first consul general in Atlanta. He heads a staff of 20 full-time employees. The office represents India’s interests in southeast states of the USA. It has the jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virgin Islands.
The Consulate of India in Atlanta began its operations partly from October 1. It provides passport and miscellaneous service operations and consular outreach activities. At present, the consulate is unable to offer Visa/OCI/PIO related services. These services will be taken up by the consulate at a later date. Until that time, these will be continued to be provided as per the existing jurisdiction by Consulate General of India, Houston, Consulate General of India, New York, and Embassy of India, Washington, DC, respectively.
While addressing the gathering Nirupama Rao said: “I am honored to be here, in the presence of this distinguished gathering for the formal inauguration of the new consulate. The consul general has been here for about a year, and he has done a yeoman service in putting together this institution. He had to locate this property, get the office to start functioning, get the staff from India, and also hire local staff for running the consulate. More than that, he has established a network of friends, colleagues, and associates. The consulate will help us provide good service and build and maintain strong and enduring relations between the US and India. Georgia is the gateway to the South-eastern US, so it is befitting that we should have a consulate in the State of Georgia.”
Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, who is instrumental and helping in setting up the consulate in Sandy Springs, said: “This is the most illustrious gathering we have had since we became a City. We are absolutely delighted that the Consulate General of India is located in the City of Sandy Springs, in a distinguished building. We are proud of what you have done. The Indian-American community is strong. We will extend our full support to the Consul General and the Consulate.”
US Congressman Rob Woodall (R-7 District of GA) also lauded the role played by Ajit Kumar in setting up the consulate and in forging new friendships and relationships.
Ajit Kumar thanked all the dignitaries and leaders of the Indian-American community for their cooperation.