A large number of eminent persons from the entire Indian Subcontinent in Chicago, irrespective of nationalities, religions, and regions, including their community organizations, demonstrated a first-of-its-kind show of unity to bid a fitting farewell to Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, the outgoing Consul General of India in Chicago on January 13th, 2017, at 7:00 PM at Monty’s Banquets. The presence of leading Americans and their elected representatives at the event was very refreshing. The function, which was attended by over 300 renowned persons from different walks of life, despite inclement weather, was a proof of Dr. Sayeed’s widespread popularity, considering the fact that in the contemporary society welcomes are common and farewells are rare.
In his address, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed paid rich tributes to the 500,000-strong Indian-American Diaspora in the US Midwest, who has been contributing magnificently in the domains of Education, Science & Technology, Trade, Culture, etc. He expressed his gratitude to them for their unflinching support to the Consulate and its activities during his tenure.
Dr. Sayeed stated that with the conceptualization and execution of such innovative flagship measures by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Digital India, Clean India, Make in India, Skills India, and Green India, and his commitment to bring about 100 Smart Cities and to lay down world-class infrastructure, India has witnessed an economic paradigm shift and thereby emerged as one of the hottest destinations for global investors.
Dr. Sayeed mentioned that the efforts of the Consulate during his tenure were directed towards strengthening the political, economic, cultural, educational, and people-to-people relationships between India and the US Midwest. As part of this process, he added, the Consulate established a close working relationship with the offices of the Governors, Lt. Governors, elected representatives and Mayors, besides senior officials of the Economic Departments of various States and leading Chambers of Commerce. “This proactive networking resulted in a number of high level trade delegations, signing of a number of MoUs, and a boost to the volume of mutually beneficial business transactions”, he added.
Mr. Hardik Bhatt, Chief Information Officer, State of Illinois said that the charismatic leadership of Dr. Sayeed resulted in signing of MoU for Smart State cooperation between the State of Illinois and Government of Telangana. He said that Dr. Sayeed has been facilitating the State of Illinois for concluding similar agreements with the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Mr Bhatt handed over the Official Letter of Appreciation from Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner to Dr. Sayeed, Mr. Bhatt also praised Mrs. Farha Sayeed, who is an accomplished egg artist, a social activist, and a philanthropist – all rolled into one.
Mr. Mickey Straub, Mayor of Burr Ridge stated that Dr. Sayeed has succeeded not only in diversifying and enriching the Indo-US Midwest relations but also in establishing extremely cordial relations with people at large, across all religious denominations. “Building relations with Government as well as general public are two different ball games and success on both the fronts proves that Dr. Sayeed is an exceptionally talented diplomat”, he added.
Mr. Marijus Gudynas, Consul General of Lithuania in Chicago described Dr. Sayeed as a very close friend and “a brother in Sanskrit”. He said that despite the tenures of Consuls General being very short, the volume of achievements of Dr. Sayeed is really mind-boggling.
Ms. Michelle Mussman, State Representative of the 56th District stated that the recognitions that are being showered on Dr. Sayeed are on account of the unique fusion of his competence and commitment.
Dr. Gopal Lalmalani, Mayor of Oak Brook had great appreciation for the success of Dr. Sayeed in forging unity among different organizations run by the Indian-Americans. “The unity among the Indian-Americans turned out to be worth-emulating phenomenon for other nationalities in the US Midwest”, he opined and added that Dr. Sayeed has raised the bar too high for his successors to reach. Dr. Gopal Lalmalani thanked Dr. Sayeed for working closely with the Village of Oakbrook for introducing friendly Polo matches between Delhi Polo Club and Oakbrook Polo Club. He handed over a Proclamation of Oak Brook to Dr. Sayeed and Ms. Farha Sayeed for their services to the community.
Swami Ishatmananda, Minister-in-Charge, Vivekanda Vedanta Society of Chicago, who was one of the distinguished speakers in the event, said that he was greatly impressed by Dr. Sayeed’s deep knowledge on Indian history, culture and religion and recalled his participation in the Conference marking the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Ishatmananda presented a book on Swami Vivekanda to Dr. Sayeed.
Mr.Sampath Ramesh, Adjunct Professor in Global Management, Kellogg School of Management, and Northwestern University said that the number of events that have been organized by the Consulate during the tenure of Dr. Sayeed is a record in its own right. “Through a rare combination of his technical, conceptual, and people-related skills, Dr Sayeed succeeded in successfully networking with the Government and corporate sectors for the Indo-US Midwest relations”, he added.
Mr. Syed Shanawaz Khan, Vice Chair, Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago said that Indo-US Midwest relations present multiple challenges. “Dr. Sayeed succeeded in protecting the interests of India in a dignified and honorable fashion”, he opined.
Mr. Imran Dhatwani, President, His Highness the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for the Midwestern USA said that Dr. Sayeed provided ample opportunities to Indian-Americans to contribute their optimum best to further enriching the socio-cultural fabric of the US Midwest.
Mr. Rajinder Singh Mago, Community Outreach, Public & Media Relations Coordinator for Sikh Religious Society said that unlike the diplomats in general who confine themselves to the four walls of their chambers, Dr. Sayeed was a people’s diplomat. “His doors, ears, heart, and mind were always open. He followed the open doors policy of ‘Every Hour–Visiting Hour – (24 Hours)’”, he added.
Ashfaq Syed, Ms. Ayeisha Osman, and Key Speakers presented Plaques of Appreciation to Dr. Sayeed. Dr. Ausaf Sayeed & Mrs. Farha Sayeed cut the cake prepared by Mrs. Huma Mirza. Earlier, the event kick started with the singing of the National Anthems of the United States and India by Dr. Narayan S, Tata, Mr. Iqbal Mirza Baig, Vice President, Glory of Hyderabad and a childhood friend of Dr. Sayeed welcomed the gathering. Mr. Krishna Bansal, Planning and Zoning Commissioner, Naperville City and Chairman– Indian American Outreach, Naperville Mayor’s office proposed a vote of thanks. Dr. Prem Rupani was the Master of Ceremonies.