Members of the Indian diaspora came together at a reception organised at the Indian Consulate in Melbourne to bid farewell to the departing Consulate General Raj Kumar who will be moving to New Delhi shortly after completing his three-year tenure in Melbourne.
Addressing the gathering, Mr Kumar thanked all for their “love and affection and cooperation” because of which, he said he was able to carry our his official as well as his domestic responsibilities.
He noted that it was during his tenure that the first chartered ‘Vande Bharat’ flight was organised from Melbourne. He said he tried his best to bridge the gap between the consulate and the Indian diaspora.
Mr Kumar said he valued the lifelong friendships he had made during his stay and urged everyone present to extend the same cooperation to his successor.
He made a special mention of Mr Nirmal Singh Namdhari, Chair – Clyde North Multicultural Council, for his ‘selfless’ assistance in times of need, especially at the peak of COVID wave when Mr Kumar was trying to to assist his family in India.
Veteran journalist Neeraj Nanda, founder-South Asia Times, who was at the reception said, ” Mr Raj Kumar remained as a bridge between us and India. His smiling face and soberness made him a successful diplomat. His services during the pandemic will long be remembered. “
“I often called him for news and he stuck to the highest standards of a professional diplomat. My best wishes to him for his next posting.”, Mr Nanda added.
Eminent Melbourne lawyer and president-elect of the Law Institute of Victoria Molina Asthana, who also was present at the reception, told NRI Affairs, “Raj Kumar ji has been a true friend and supporter of the Indian diaspora in Melbourne. He is a very approachable, down to earth and soft spoken person. He is also very community driven and was always present at various Indian events. He is well loved by the Indian community and will be missed.”
The reception held at the CGI hall on St Kilda Road was attended by Lisa Singh, CEO of Australia India Institute and Bwe Thay, Deputy Chair – Victorian Multicultural Commission and Manpreet Singh, Executive Producer at SBS among other prominent members of the Indian diaspora.
Filmmaker and academic Dr Vikrant Kishore lauded Mr Raj Kumar’s accessibility to the community, in particular his efforts in working collaboratively with the Hindi Action Group to successfully advocate for the retention of the Hindi course at La Trobe University. He told NRI Affairs, “CGI Raj Kumar was an easily accessible person, with a great understanding of the Indian-Australian community. He paid attention to the needs of the diverse Indian community in Australia and was always at the forefront to take up any community concerns. He supported our campaign for retaining the Hindi course at the La Trobe University and led community consultations in a positive, meaningful and outcome-based manner, which reflected his leadership style. I wish him all the best!”
Businessman Sunny Duggal called Mr Raj Kumar an excellent human being. He said Mr Raj Kumar made himself available to serve needy international students and vulnerable communities by delivering groceries and preparing meals for them during COVID lockdown. Mr Duggal said that despite COVID restrictions Mr Raj Kumar ensured that the consulate’s work in assisting the community continued smoothly.
Dr. Sushil Kumar, currently posted in the High Commission of India in Colombo, will replace Mr. Raj Kumar as the next Consul General of India in Melbourne.