- Classifieds – Main
by Shobana Muratee
HOUSTON – Houston’s Indian Consulate Office now has its new Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray who took charge early this month. Voice of Asia publisher Koshy Thomas and Editor-in-Chief, Shobana Muratee paid him a brief visit on Thursday afternoon, April 21 at his office on Scotland, Houston.
It was on day after the floods in Houston had subsided and the city was still limping to normalcy after the torrential rains and flooding from the previous week. Seven lives were lost during that time of which two: Sunita Singh, 47, senior electrical engineer at Bechtel Oil & Gas and Suresh Kumar Talluri, were of Indian origin who died in the early hours of Monday on April 18 2016. Consul General Dr. Ray mentioned that his office had provided consular services to the family of Suresh Kumar Talluri after his demise.
Consul General, Dr. Ray is a physician by education and was a Neuro-surgery resident before he joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1994. This elite service recruits about 20 people annually, from a pool of approximately half-a-million aspirants, through one of the most rigorous competitive processes in the world. He succeeds Consul General Parvathneni Harish, another brilliant official who made a lasting impression on the Indian Americans in Houston. “I’m very privileged to be succeeding an officer of his caliber,” he said.
Dr. Ray had a lot to say about the warmth and generosity of the people of Houston. When asked what cautionary advice he got about Houston, he simply put it in a nut shell, “I don’t want to make mistakes.” “This is an important job. It is entirely in the public eye. We are not used to doing that kind of a job. As civil servants the nature of our interaction with the public is changing very fast. We were trained to be rulers but we are not rulers we have to retrain ourselves to be partners. There are no guide books; we have to do it ourselves. The only thing I need to be cautious about is that I’m meeting the expectations of the people,” he explained.
His highest priority, he said was to ensure that applicants are well taken care of. When he saw that the applicants were standing and the officer serving is seated, he changed it so everyone is seated while being served. He also mentioned that he had visited the Cox & Kings Global Services, incognito and sat with the applicants to observe. He even asked each of the applicants how their experience was and most of them said it was ‘OK’, not too happy or unhappy either. So he asked them to put their suggestions on his FB page particularly, “In point form. No lengthy stories’. As a media, he suggested that we reach out to the people and let them know that he is available on twitter and FB. “Tweet in bullet points, that which are actionable and I will react,” he said. “What I can do, I will and what I can’t, I won’t’,” he said. “My style of action is transparency;” he put it plain and simple. Koshy Thomas gave him a copy of the newsweekly Voice of Asia and HealthLine magazine. He also requested that the elevator be in working condition especially for the seniors, to which CG responded, it would be his highest priority. He in turn asked one question, “Where do we get good food?” It won’t be long before Dr. Ray will realize he is now in Little India!
Consul General Ray hails from a family of civil servants, the most prestigious and highly competitive of services in India. His is the third generation in the linage.
Dr. Ray’s career, which began in Germany, has coincided with the emergence of India as a major power. He has held key diplomatic assignments as Political Officer in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Desk Officer, as manager of India’s successful campaign for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General out of London, and as a senior member of the Indian team in the UN Security Council in New York. He was the first employee of India’s outgoing aid agency (Development Partnership Administration) created in 2012. He later worked (with rank of Joint Secretary in the Government of India) to kick-start one of India’s most innovative diplomatic projects – the ambitious US$500 million Nalanda University, an international standard “Asian” university in India. He has served as Chief of Staff to a Minister, managed the nuts-and-bolts of the Foreign Office as Director (Personnel) and was Deputy Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi in 2012. In addition to a medical degree, he has a M.A. in Public Administration and speaks English, German, Hindi, Bangla and Assamese and understands Punjabi and Urdu. He has been a Fellow at the Centre of Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, where he wrote a paper on radical Islam in Bangladesh and before joining as Consul General of India, Houston, was on a 2-year sabbatical as Visiting Professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. He has, in the past, been an employee of the Ramakrishna Mission. He is married to Amit Goldberg, MD, a highly acclaimed medical professional and has two children.