The Indian American community under the banner of the Federation of Indian Associations of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut (FIA) bid farewell to Dr Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, Deputy Consul General of India in New York, who is returning to External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi, at the Royal Albert’s Palace in Edison, New Jersey, March 21.
The auditorium was fully packed with people reflecting the tremendous popularity of an amiable and selfless civil servant, who was always willing to help anyone in need of consulate services. Speakers representing various organizations pointed out the many contributions of Dr Mohapatra, especially opening the consulate accessible to the public.
The audience greeted him with a standing ovation. The FIA presented a plaque recognizing his work and showing the gratitude of the community.
Andy Bhatia, president of FIA, welcomed the gathering and introduced Dr. Mohapatra. Bhatia noted that Mohaptra interacted with the people as one of them instead of keeping aloof as a senior bureaucrat. He attended community functions and heard the problems of the people himself and often suggested solutions for them also.
FIA chair Ramesh Patel thanked Dr Mohapatra for his dedication in addressing the problems faced by the community as regards consular services among others. He said there were disagreements with him initially on several issues. But his humble approach and willingness to solve the issues were liked by all and it endeared him to all. He wished him success in the future assignments.
Srujal Parekh, executive vice president of the FIA noted that there will be a void in the community when Dr Mohaptra leaves. “We will miss you and your good works,” he said.
Dr Sanjay Gupta, who was one of the hosts of the event with Dr Kavita Gupta noted that Dr Mohaptra won the hearts of all those who interacted with him. Dr. Mohaptra is a physician who has excellent interpersonal skills including a very pleasant demeanor and problem solving attitude.
Padma Sri HR Shah, chairman of TV Asia wished Dr Mohaptra to return to the US as consul general or ambassador.
Padma Sri Dr Sudhir Parekh spoke about the open door policy of Dr Mohaptra which changed people’s attitude towards the consulate and its work.
Hirsh Vardhan Singh, who is running for Governor of New Jersey as a Republican, wished Mohaptra all success in future. He also spoke about the election saying that the community can influence the outcome if all those eligible went for voting. He noted that only 9 percent of the qualified Indian Americans voted in the last election. It reflects poorly on our community. It is not important whether you are Republican or Democrat, but it is important to be active in public affairs. Albert Jasani and Shobana Patel of Royal Albert’s Palace and Dr Raj Bhayani, were among the co-hosts.
He cited the reception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden as an example. It was a huge success because of the tremendous support of the community.
He said he has unforgettable memories of New York and he will be always part of the Indian community here. “Interaction with the community and its feed back are important for the smooth functioning of the consulate. I embraced every opportunity to interact with the community.”
He also thanked the media for changing the perception about the consulate. He noted the community outreach programs conducted in the ten states that fall under the jurisdiction of the consulate. He met eight governors of the states which helped to strengthen bilateral relationship with India and improving the relations with the community.
Mohapatra said in all probability he will be in Delhi for the next 2-3 years. “I will give you my personal email. If you email me with any questions, you will definitely get a response,” he promised.
He invited everybody to get in touch with him if they visit Delhi without any hesitation and he would love to connect. Mohapatra said he was greatly touched by the gesture of FIA and others organizing the event.