Indian Ambassador's speech at first virtual open house in 2021
A very warm welcome to our Open House of January 2021,
This being our first open house in 2021, let me start by wishing all of you a very happy and of course a very healthy New Year 2021.
Let me begin today’s open house by thanking His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Crown Prince His Highness Sheikh Mishaal Al- Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah for hosting the large Indian community in Kuwait. I also thank the Government of the State of Kuwait and Kuwaiti friends of India for their friendship and support.
Let me also thank our doctors, nurses and medical professionals who are making many sacrifices here and all across the world. It is gratifying that we start the New Year with a positive feeling of having launched the vaccination programme. Indications from the first month of 2021 are that things are not looking very good from the Covid 19 pandemic angle. We continue to face challenges of the pandemic, lock down, travel restrictions, and health issues. The battle is not over yet, and we need to remain vigilant and follow all Covid 19 related protocols and guidelines until it is successfully and comprehensively defeated.
It is a proud moment for India and Indians that we have launched vaccination of two indigenously developed vaccines; aimed at initially vaccinating over 300 million priority cases and then rest of the country. As the “pharmacy of the world”, India has also started supply of the vaccines to many countries. India has announced vaccines to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.
Our Open House has now been settled for the third Wednesday of every month at 3 PM. It is still virtual, actually completely virtual. I hope, in coming months, we will be able to make it at least a hybrid format, selected few at the auditorium and others online. Unfortunately for the time being we will continue to organize our events mostly as virtual events, following Covid 19 protocol.
As I said before, I do not see the open house as a grievance redressal mechanism alone. It is much more than that. Of course I look forward to listening to any grievances, comments and suggestions at these Open Houses. Of course those with unresolved grievances and difficulties are our priorities, and we will try to address all their concerns. I would also like these open houses to be a platform to disseminate information on the activities of the Embassy in Kuwait, to bring in more transparency in our functioning. This is also to supplement the various press releases and social media bulletins that we issue regularly.
I would like to invite all of you to participate in our Republic Day celebrations virtually. We will have the flag hoisting ceremony and the reading of the address by Hon’ble Rashtrapatiji at 9 in the morning. I invite all of you to join us virtually through the Embassy’s social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. I also invite you to join us for a patriotic song concert in the evening at 6 PM on January 26, again a virtual only event.
I would also invite you to give your suggestions in celebrating the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Kuwait and the 75th anniversary of our independence in 2021-22.
As I said in the last open house, my first priority in the Mission now is to ensure that we continue the Consular Service without interruption. We should not have a situation whereby we end up closing down the Consular Service at the Embassy or at our passport offices. Our Consular Open House is continuing every day. Anyone who has consular issues could meet my colleague Shri Amitabh Ranjan in this daily open house, or send an email to us. We are responding to each of the serious mails and to comments on feedback forms. Shri Amitabh Ranjan will look after Consular Service during the leave period of Shri Ranveer Bharati, who is returning next week.
In the meantime, I continue my meetings and interaction with the authorities discussing ways and means to elevate our partnership with Kuwait on various fields. I also meet and discuss with them issues of concern and interest to our diaspora. I am getting mail regularly on various issues; if time permits I will read out today a few letters and emails that I received, as these cover some of the issues of concern that our community shares. One issue I would like to raise is the complaints about fraudulent calls that some of our nationals receive from who pose as Embassy officials asking for bank details. Please be very careful about such fraudulent calls. The Embassy never asks for any money payment or bank details from anyone over the phone. Please report any such fraudulent calls to the attention of the Embassy immediately. We have issued a press release on this.
We continue to provide assistance from ICWF to all deserving cases, including food, lunch at the Embassy, air tickets and travel arrangements for hospital patients etc. There are regular visits to the jails, detention centers, deportation centers, police stations and hospitals by the Embassy officials. We will continue all this, in coming days and weeks.
We are coming to an end to the two month special correction drive that the Kuwaiti authorities had announced for correction of legal status. Later in this meeting, we will update you on the Emergency Certificate drive during the last two months. Our endeavor has been to issue the Emergency Certificates on the same day, to avoid their travel to the Embassy multiple times.
This month we have taken ‘Consular Services – Passports’ as the theme for our Open House. We will have a presentation by Dr. Vinod Gaikwad, First Secretary (Consular). I am happy to note that we have been able to address the issue pertaining to Police Verification on reissuance of passports; very few cases now are in pre-verification category, meaning passports can be issued without waiting for police verification in India. However, please continue to submit your passports for renewal, two months before the expiry of residence permits.
My colleague Mr. Fahad Suri will now make a presentation on what we did during December 2020. He has been promoted as First Secretary and is now given the addition charge of Head of Chancery. After his presentation we will be happy to hear your comments and suggestions and answer your questions, I will also cover a few questions that I received. Then we move on to our presentation on ‘Consular Services- Passports and Emergency Certificates’ by Dr. Vinod Gaikwad.