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US Consulate at Mumbai completes 180th anniversary amid sombre mood


US Consulate at Mumbai completes 180th anniversary amid sombre mood

The US Consulate-General in Mumbai marked its 180 years of its trailblazing diplomatic journey in India's commercial capital, with a mega celebration on Friday night entitled 'Namaste America'. In view of the Pulwama tragedy that had struck the previous day, Consul-General Edgard Kagan first led the gathering in observing a moment of silence for the tragic loss of lives of Indian troopers in the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.

Recalling the history of the consulate, he said it was 180 years ago when the then US President Martin Van Buren appointed the first Philemon S. Parker of New York, as American Consul to the city, then known as Bombay. "We believe the US and India are closer friends and partners than at any other time in these 180 years. We are truly intertwined in all areas, including strong trade and economic ties, a shared vision for a prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific Region, shared values and genuine interest in each others' cultures," he said.

Kagan said both countries carry on the spirit and ambition of those that came in the past with confidence of bringing the US-India relations to new and greater heights. 'Namaste America' host Atul Nishar said since past eight years, it has played a very effective role in building cultural ties between the two countries, with the US Consulate in Mumbai playing an integral part in this endeavour.

The highlights of the evening, with Reliance Industries as presenting sponsor, included a performance by renowned choreographer Shimak Davar and his troupe, a presentation by his Victory Arts Foundation which gives a platform to differently-abled and underprivileged persons. Established in 1838, from July 1945, the consulate was upgraded to a Consulate-General with Howard Donovan as the principal officer.

Earlier, it operated from the Wankaner House, belonging to the erstwhile Maharaja of Wankaner, at Breach Candy from 1957, and subsequently renamed 'Lincoln House' by the new occupants. Post-Independence, the Maharaja of Wankaner, whose kingdom was situated in modern-day Gujarat, had handed over the magnificent building, declared a heritage site, to the US Consulate to pay off his liabilities.

However, in November 2011, security reasons and space constraints led the consulate to shift to a swank new facility in suburban Bandra Kurla Complex, and in 2012, the US Commercial Service Trade Information Centre was also inaugurated at the same place.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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