New Indian deputy chief of mission vows support for NRIs

Updated 11 August 2014
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New Indian deputy chief of mission vows support for NRIs

Newly appointed Indian Deputy Chief of Mission Hemant Kotalwar has vowed to support non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the Kingdom and commended the Indian Embassy’s hard work during the legalization grace period.
Kotalwar’s statements came on Monday, in which the newly stationed diplomat said he drew inspiration from the hard work of volunteers and social workers during that period.
“We would like to keep up the spirit of enthusiasm for the welfare of the Indian community living in the Kingdom,” he told Arab News during his first meeting with the local media after taking charge.
“The meticulousness with which the mission worked under the experienced leadership of our ambassador, Hamid Ali Rao, in handling urgent issues during the amnesty period reflected a sense of perfection that has always inspired me,” said Kotalwar.
“I recall that period of great cooperation and synergy every time I read about the ongoing nationalization campaign in the papers.”
“I had also been told that the media had fully cooperated with the mission in spreading awareness campaigns among community members and helping people follow up on the status of their paperwork,” he said.
“I thank each one of you for your support to the embassy and for your efforts in assisting our brothers and sisters in taking advantage of the grace period,” said the deputy head of mission, adding that he would soon meet the core group of volunteers and social workers for future cooperation.
The new chargé d’affaires thanked Saudi authorities for the grace period and their humanitarian approach during the nationalization campaign.
“For many, going back to India was a dream come true since many of these expats had been trying to return back home for several years,” he said.
This is no small achievement for the mission and the community, he added.
Kotalwar, an engineering graduate, joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1996.
He has served at the Indian missions in Brussels, Algiers and at the permanent mission of India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva during his eighteen-year career, after which he came to Riyadh.
This is Kotalwar’s first appointment to the Middle East.
His last posting in Geneva lasted from July 2011 to June 2014.
He also served as undersecretary at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi and as regional passport officer in Mumbai from 2003 to 2008.
He is married to Seema and has one son, Aditya, and a daughter, Tejal.


Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

Ithra takes visitors to the magical world of Manganiyar, an Indian folk music, in Dhahran on Wednesday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

  • There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me”

DHAHRAN: The King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran has been transporting its visitors to the magical world of the Manganiyar from Nov. 14-17. The Manganiyar is a timeless Indian orchestra originally born in the region of Rajasthan in north India, which has continued over many generations.
The basic song on which the show is based comes from a poem by the 17th-century Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah. The resulting folk music is an audio-visual feast that mixes light and voice and features more than 40 musicians in one performance.
The first Manganiyar show in Ithra was sold out.
“It was the first time in my life that inspiration dawned on me; it was like a heavenly gift,” Roysten Abel, the director of the musical show, told Arab News when he was asked how the band started their touring and performance journey.
“I was in Spain working as a street performer. One day I was resting and I heard wonderful music, which I thought was a dream. Then I realized that there were two musicians outside my room singing to wake me up. I then proposed the idea of forming this Manganiyar band,” Abel said.
Abel went to the Manganiyar’s hometown to create the band.
“I went to Rajasthan, auditioned almost 200 musicians and finally selected 50 to have our first show in 2006. Since then, if I ever listen to an old Manganiyar musician or a new one, I still weep because they haunt me with their singing.”
There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me.”
Creating the performance and the harmony between the band members and the director took time.
“The musicians needed to know what this guy who is coming from outside wants? What is he going to make us do? Building the relationship took around a year and a half, and so it took us year and a half to build up the show.”
“I always say the Manganiyar selection was God’s gift to us because it was actually given to us and it runs on its own.”
Abel said that the Manganiyar show always sells out anywhere it goes due the experience it offers. “There has not been one show where we have not received a standing ovation.”
“We even performed in Hyde Park, Sydney, where nobody knew what to expect,” Abel said. “There were a good 10,000 people in the park, and when the show was over these 10,000 started clapping and even stayed for the second performance!”
Abel shared the band’s insights about their first visit to Saudi Arabia: “We were very curious to see how it was going to be received, but it turned out to be one of the best performances and the audience was thrilled. So, there’s always a lot of surprises and I tend to never expect. I just love to see what happens.”
Abel urged everyone to turn up and have their own experience of the Manganiyar. “People should all come and tell their friends to come, and live the show, because at the end of the day the show is not like any other music concert; it’s an experience of its own.”
Abel said that people’s responses to the show varied; some left in tears while others “jumped with joy.”
What matters to him, he said, is that people get the essence behind the show, which is love.