Flag hoisting by Consul General Ashok Venkatesan at Gadar Memorial Hall, San Francisco
Flag hoisting by Consul General Ashok Venkatesan at Gadar Memorial Hall, San Francisco

MILPITAS: While India celebrated its 68th Republic Day at Rajpath in New Delhi with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the chief guest, Bay Areans too came in large numbers to celebrate India’s Republic at the India Community Center, Milpitas organized by Indian Consulate General in San Francisco.

At a function held at India Community Center on January 26, Consul General Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok led celebrations of India’s 68th Republic Day that included dance and musical performances and remarks from elected officials and community leaders on the strength of the bond between our two countries.

Earlier in the morning, Consulate General of India, San Francisco celebrated the occasion at an event organized at Gadar Memorial Hall, San Francisco. Consul General Ashok Venkatesan hoisted the Indian Flag. Later, he read the speech delivered by President of India Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion. The event was attended by a number of officers and officials of Indian Consulate, San Francisco and their family members.

The California State Senate and the California State Assembly passed Resolutions in Capitol House, Sacramento on the occasion of 68th Indian Republic Day Celebrations. While Senator Tony Mendoza had presented the Resolution in California State Senate, Assembly Member Ash Kalra had presented the same in California State Assembly. Consul General Ashok Venkatesan who was invited, was also present in both the houses on the occasion.

At the Milpitas event, the evening began with singing of the national anthems of the two countries and reading out excerpts of the President’s message on the eve of the 68th Republic Day of India. Following this, Consul General Ashok welcomed the guests to the Republic Day celebrations and highlighted the notable achievements India has made in the past year.

Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Ashok said that the true beauty of India lies in its diversity. India is a country with collection of different views, cultures, sub-cultures people, and when we celebrate Republic Day we are actually celebrating this unity in diversity. Ambassador Ashok also spoke about the non-resident Indians who are the real Ambassadors of India and they should also support the efforts in making India a global leader.

He added India is turning 70 this year and talked about the work done by the Consulate at SFO to convert PIO to OCIs, e-visas, open houses held at the office every fortnight to hear the grievances on visas and other related issues.

Consul General Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok
Consul General Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok

The Indian Consulate, San Francisco will hold an “Open House” every fortnight starting from January 2017 to address the grievances of the people on issues related to visas, passports and OCI cards. The same will be held from 10 AM to 1 PM on the first Wednesday and 2 PM to 5 PM on the third Wednesday of every month w.e.f. January 2017. If these happen to fall on a holiday, the Open House will be held on the first working day thereafter. Complaints and grievances pertaining to grant of visas, passports and/or OCI cards will be attended to in the ‘Open House’.

Joining the Consul General were Senator Bob Wieckowski; Richard Tran, Mayor of Milpitas; Assembly member Ash Kalra; Savita Vaidhyanathan, Mayor of Cupertino; Rishikumar, Councilmember of Saratoga; Raj Salwan, Council member of Fremont and many other elected officials from all over Bay area.

It was a nice and lavish event with over 500 Bay Area’s elite, businessmen and community members attending the nearly three-hour event followed by a scrumptious dinner catered by Jalsa Catering.

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service