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India's Diplomatic Milestone: Seattle Welcomes New Consulate After 7-Year Wait

Asia India

After 7 years, Indian foreign service officer Prakash Gupta is set to become India’s first Consul General at the new Indian Consulate in Seattle, marking a significant milestone in US-India diplomacy.

The Indian government has finally appointed a consul general to begin operating India’s consulate in the US Pacific Northwest, years after the announcement that it would open one in Seattle. Prakash Gupta, an IFS officer from the 2002 cohort, will be the first consul general in Seattle, according to the Indian Embassy in Washington DC. To formally inaugurate the consulate, he is anticipated to visit Seattle later this month.

Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then-President Barack Obama discussed opening the mission in 2016, little progress was made on the proposal that was supposed to coincide with the reciprocal US plan to open new consulates in India. The United States is anticipated to establish two additional consulates in addition to its current four, located in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Prime Minister Modi and President Biden reiterated their plan during the former’s June visit to Washington DC, and the joint statement between India and the United States stated that the additional consulates would be a natural result of "rapid expansion of the bilateral relationship and demand for tourism."

Exciting Developments for the Indian Community in Washington State

Atul Keshap, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC) and former US Charge d’Affaires in India in 2021, expressed enthusiasm about India's decision to establish a new consulate in Seattle. He highlighted the potential benefits, emphasizing that the consulate would offer essential visa and passport services. Moreover, he sees it playing a pivotal role as a central hub, catering not only to Washington state but also to nine neighboring states falling under the consulate's jurisdiction, providing a platform for enhanced engagement with India.

This move is seen as a significant stride in addressing the needs of the Indian community, particularly those contributing to the vibrant technology landscape in the state. As the hub for major tech and engineering companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Expedia, and Nordstrom, the Greater Seattle Area holds substantial ties with India. Keshap's positive outlook reflects the anticipation that the new consulate will be vital in facilitating diplomatic and consular services for the Indian diaspora, fostering stronger people-to-people ties and business interactions in the region.

Both nations are working on establishing new consulates in each other's countries in tandem with the rapid expansion of their strategic cooperation and the rising demand for tourism. Following the joint statement of Prime Minister Modi's visit in June, the United States plans to begin the procedure of opening two new consulates in India, in the cities of Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Seattle will join New York, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, and Atlanta as the US cities with Indian consulates.

Shubhankar Agarwal is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington, DC. He is a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service, where he is focusing on global governance, economic, and gender issues in the Indo-Pacific region.