Washington, October 2: Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and the Indian-American community have urged the Indian government to open a consulate in the second-largest US city and the entertainment capital of the world. Currently, there are five Indian consulates in the US in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta.
During the historic State Visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, it was announced that India would open two new consulates in the US, one of which would be in Seattle. A group of Indian American organisations and the Los Angeles (LA) Mayor are urging that the second consulate should be opened in their city. Eric Garcetti, Former Los Angeles Mayor, Officially Sworn In as US Ambassador to India by Vice President Kamala Harris (Watch Video).
“I ask that you consider the City of Los Angeles for a new Indian Consulate. It would be my honour to work with you to open and provide continued support for this important platform for engagement and exchange,” Bass wrote in a recent letter to India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
“Tourism between India and Los Angeles is another source of mutual benefit, and Los Angeles has invested in India with a dedicated Tourism Office that opened in 2019 and remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bass wrote in her letter, a copy of which has been seen by PTI.
With more than 100,000 Indian visitors to Los Angeles every year, a consulate will not only provide important services but become a key partner to expand bilateral cooperation, she said.
“We are proud to host 94 foreign missions as part of our diplomatic corps, and my Office of International Affairs is dedicated to deepening our engagement with partners around the world,” she said. “As the second largest city in the United States and home to more than 150,000 Indian Americans, I respectfully request you choose Los Angeles to host a new consular mission,” Bass said.
“With the largest port complex in the Western Hemisphere, thousands of start-ups and the third largest venture capital market in the United States, and a slate of international sporting and entertainment events scheduled over the next decade including the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I am excited by endless opportunities to strengthen ties between Los Angeles and India,” the Mayor said.
While acknowledging the important work of the Indian Consul General in San Francisco, she said 23 countries maintain consulates in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. “Twelve G20 countries have consulates in Los Angeles and San Francisco and an additional five G20 countries have consulates solely in Los Angeles,” she said.
“Southern California’s diverse economy stretches well beyond the entertainment industry, and includes a thriving biotechnology and life sciences sector, global leaders in space and aerospace, and a booming sustainability and green technology field,” she said.
The Los Angeles region, she noted, is also home to more than 180 universities and colleges, centres for student experience, research, and innovation. “California is proud to host more than 10 per cent of all Indians studying in the United States, and we value the bridges they create between our communities,” Bass said.
Gunjana Bagla, an eminent Indian-American from Los Angeles, who has launched an online campaign on the matter, said Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the US without having an Indian consulate. “We in the community feel that having a local consul general would be useful and beneficial not only to the Indian-American community but also to the business community at large,” Bagla told PTI.
“Over 40 per cent of all trade in the United States goes through the twin LA/Long Beach harbours. As a top five economy it is embarrassing for India to not have a diplomatic mission in such an important location,” said the online petition signed by more than 3,600 Indian Americans.
“The time to act is now: Prime Minister Modi and President (Joe) Biden announced in June that two new Indian Consulates will be opened. Los Angeles needs to take its rightful place before any other location in North America. Hurry and sign this petition,” it said.
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