WELCOME EFFORT

In recent months in the United States the violence on immigrants has increased. Newly elected President Donald Trump's venom filled demagoguery against illegal immigrants has encouraged such behavior. His followers have taken his speech as a code word against foreigners. Therefore, attacks on them, in the minds of the Trump's followers becomes justifiable. A student from India has been killed over the weekend by a man who thought he was an Arab. Another Indian was also shot by the same man but survived. In India young people are afraid to come to the United States. Violence against immigrants coupled with general attitude of the Trump administration discourages them to come here.

There are tens of thousands students of Indian Origin in the United States. Population wise, they are the second to the Chinese in number. Universities earn money from them. These bright students become researchers and professionals. Some of them continue to stay after completing their studies. As employees they make tremendous contributions to American society at large. Over the years, many of the Indian immigrants have made their mark in various fields. Yet, the young Indians are treated in many places like they are not needed. Such an attitude derives from a narrowmindedness.

In the prevailing atmosphere of uncertainty not only the newly arrived or those who want to come here but many who have settled here for a long time are also worried. Donald Trump's ban on Muslims and his general hostility toward immigrants scares them. The ban has not worked yet because the Court tossed it. But the situation could change again. The president could prevail. So they are worried. They fear that if they left, they may not come back again. Some members of the community who have complicated problems about their stay in the United States seek help from the Indian embassy. Others try to hide themselves hoping the difficulty sooner or later would go away, .But it does not.

Keeping this in mind, over the weekend, a gathering was held between community members and various officials from the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. In the gathering, several people raised questions and asked for solutions to their specific problems. One gentleman spoke only Punjabi so his problem was conveyed through a translator. The officials attending the meeting seemed to be empathetic and gave the impression that they really want to help the community. It was good to see that the embassy officials were genuinely helpful and the audience seemed to feel it. For a long time the community has been feeling negatively toward consular offices. This is a change for the better.

Every visiting Prime Minister and President reminds the community that each of its members is an ambassador from India. However, as bureaucrats, embassy officials used to behave like they were a notch above everybody. Things slowly have changed. Many of the community members have gained powerful positions within the US Government. As community leaders and professionals and business leaders they can produce much more than the officials in the embassy can do for mother India. Over the years there has been a shift of emphasis. The embassy is reaching out to the community and vice versa. Last weekend's get together was one of such events.

Gathering sources of investment in India has been the marching order for the embassy. Whatever it does must be geared toward this goal. The Modi government's "Make in India" slogan and the working methods of its bureaucrats must go hand in hand. The distance between ordinary civilians and the officials within a bureaucracy has to be cut to the minimum for the mandate to succeed. With the spread of smartphones and computers more and more people now have access to information. That has made them more powerful than before. The system has opened up widely and the mystique of the officialdom is no longer a mystery. India needs progress. Its government officers, no matter where they are, are the cogs in the wheel to run it smoothly. Their genuine involvement in helping citizens, no matter where they are, is a welcome effort.


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