Indo-American community activist demands toll-free diaspora helpline

WASHINGTON: There is an urgent need to establish a global toll-free hotline for India’s rapidly growing diaspora which now numbers 32 million people, a prominent Indo-American community activist said on Thursday following an incident where an official abused a visa applicant. at the Indian Consulate in New York.
The short video of the incident has now gone viral and has been seen by several lakhs on various social media platforms. The Indian Consulate in New York initiated disciplinary proceedings against the officer.
The woman, who is seen threatened by the consulate official, and her husband, finally received the visa to travel to India to attend her father’s last rites.
Community activist Prem Bhandari said it was an endemic problem in Indian diplomatic missions around the world.
New York-based Bhandari, who has been dealing with cases of Indians living abroad on visa and passport matters for several years, said those responsible for managing visas and passports at the missions Indian diplomats are not properly trained to interact with the people who come. to them in distress.
“Without a doubt, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, things have improved considerably over the past few years. We have a long way to go on how our own people are treated in Indian diplomatic missions. daily. The New York Consulate is no exception to this rule, ”he said.
“Whatever the reason, the way the Indian Consulate in New York visa officer is seen to behave in the video is unforgivable. It is important that the Indian government take action to ensure this does not happen again. at any of our diplomatic offices. They are officials, and this video certainly does not reflect that, “Bhandari said.
“Considering the growing needs of Indians living abroad, who now number 32 million, it would be better if the Indian government established a toll-free global number, where a member of the Indian diaspora can call and obtain service. help without fear. I’m saying this because of the many calls, texts and emails I get from the diaspora every week, “he said.
“Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has done so much for the Indian diaspora, including simplifying the visa and passport system as well as OCI cards. We expect a lot from him,” he said, stressing that he is urgent to address the question of how our own officials treat and treat our own people.
“Under no circumstances can the police be called against our own people,” Bhandari said.

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