A meeting with the new Indian Consul-General…unannounced

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Toronto, April 29 (CINEWS): An email arrived recently informing this news outlet that the new Indian Consul General in Toronto Dinesh Bhatia had dedicated two hours every Friday to any member of the public who wished to meet him. No appointment was necessary.
So last Friday I arrived at the Indian Consulate at 365 Bloor Street, East to meet Mr Bhatia for no good reason except to say hello, bonjour and welcome.
After all Mr Bhatia, his wife Seema, a Clinical Psychologist and Hypnotherapist and two children had arrived in Canada just six weeks earlier.
I present my visiting card to the receptionist, state the purpose of my visit which is nothing in particular and am told there were two people before me, both of whom looked like they had some serious issues to discuss with Mr Bhatia. Half an hour later, I am guided into an inner chamber to meet the affable Mr Bhatia.
It is quite possibly the first time an Indian Consul-General in Toronto has made himself so accessible to the public. “In my previous postings in Ivory Coast and Liberia, the Indian community was small and I met people without an appointment. Here the community is large and so I realized that if I wanted to meet as many people as possible, I needed a dedicated time. People should not feel there is a barrier,” he said.
Since starting this Open House of sorts, Mr Bhatia has met dozens of people including two journalists the previous week. “People come to see me for various things-passport issues, visa, OCI cards. My two hours not issue specific,” he said.
Consul-Generals typically have a 3-year-term in any posting and in that short period of time, Mr Bhatia has his work cut out for him. He has three objectives that he wants to meet: “I want this office to serve the Indian community well. Provide better facilities and consular services to the Indian community as well as Canadians who visit India for business or tourism. And lastly I want to strengthen the economic relations between India and Canada,” he said.
Mr Bhatia is a peoples’ person who has an engineering background, worked in the private sector for two years after graduation, thought about starting a business, ‘like a typical Punjabi’, but his friends pushed him into civil service preparation.
He has never regretted the decision ever.
What Mr Bhatia has seen of Canada so far has impressed him. “I am happy with the discipline on the road,” he says in a lighter vein. “But also proud of the Indian community which is very enterprising. There are 30-40,000 Indian students studying here, I would like to visit universities and talk to these future ambassadors of India. They should feel grounded, know more about India and feel better connected,” he said.
I could talk longer, but doing so would possibly cut into someone else’s time. On my way out there are several people waiting their turn. They all have sheaves of important papers and documents that require the attention of the new Consul-General, guiltily I slink away.

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