New Indian consul general vows to help expatriates
DUBAI // A senior Indian diplomat who recently took over as consul general has promised to help improve the welfare of expatriates.
Anurag Bhushan met senior members of the Indian business community on Wednesday night at the India Club in Dubai, his first official engagement with expatriates in the region. “My priority will first and foremost be the welfare of this large Indian community, and I’m interacting with people to understand the various issues,” he said.
“I’m touched by the warmth of the community and their giving nature. I want to assure people that in the coming few weeks we will give the fullest attention to ensuring that the Indian consulate provides its services more efficiently and promptly.”
Before taking over as the consul general of India in Dubai and the Northern Emirates on December 29 last year, Mr Bhushan was the head of the regional passport office in Delhi.
He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1995 and has served in embassies in Tokyo, Dhaka and Berlin.
Representatives of Indian residents said they plan to meet Mr Bhushan this month to raise a number of issues, including the completion of pending community projects and a call for online voting rights for expatriates.
“The important issues are unfinished work, such as a cremation ground in Sharjah and a social, cultural centre in Ajman that need to be completed,” said Sripriyaa Kumaria, the director general of the India Trade and Exhibition centre.
Forging a federation of business councils to strengthen the work of the individual bodies that exist also needs to be taken up by the consulate, she said.
There are currently business councils for Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
“It would help to have a single point of contact and the consulate can help with this so that we can have a single face in the UAE,” said Ms Kumaria. “This would also make it easier when an Indian ministerial delegation visits, so that prominent businesses in emirates such as Ajman and Umm Al Quain are not missed out.”
With general elections in India expected to be announced for April or May, UAE residents were also hoping that the consulate would back a long-standing demand that they be allowed them to cast their vote via postal ballot or in overseas embassies.
Non-resident Indians were granted the right to vote in elections by a 2010 government notification, but they must travel home to do so, which expatriates say is an impractical expectation.
“We should be allowed to vote online or in the consulate,” said Shilpa Navalkar, an information technology manager who has lived in the UAE for 14 years.
“It would be great if the consulate helped to make the government understand how important this is for us.”
Mr Bhushan is the 14th consul general of India in Dubai since 1973. He took over from Sanjay Verma, who was appointed as India’s ambassador to Ethiopia.
Published: January 16, 2014 04:00 AM