Kenneth I. Juster, the current U.S. Ambassador to India, on Tuesday, inaugurated a photo exhibition to commemorate 50 years of the U.S. Consulate building in Chennai.
He recalled the words of Charles Bowles, the U.S. Ambassador to India in 1969, during the dedication of the US Consulate building in Chennai — “This is a high point in the deep friendship and close relations between India and the United States.”
Madras Governor Sardar Ujjal Singh, and Tamil Nadu Industries and Educational Minister V.R. Nedunchezhian had also been present during the dedication in 1969.
“It is an honour to be here during Madras Week and commemorate the 50th year of the US Consulate building as well as to celebrate the founding of this great city. The city has welcomed American travellers for centuries and among them has been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who addressed an audience at the Presidency college in 1959,” Mr. Juster said.
He noted that the city’s association with the US dated back to 1794, when President George Washington had appointed businessman William Abbott as the first Consular Agent to Madras.
The Ambassador and Minister for Tamil official language and Tamil culture, K. Pandiarajan, participated in the dedication of the ‘S.Muthiah Collection’ at the American Centre.
The collection features several books, which chronicle America’s connection with Chennai and South India through the ages.
Power of Tamil diaspora
“Nearly 9,600 people came together to help us set up the Harvard Tamil Chair and I understood the power of the Tamil Diaspora in America. At present, we are working towards setting up Tamil Culture Centres in over 350 places for teaching Tamil and I am happy that the USA has been very receptive to people coming forward to learn the language,” he said.
V. Sriram said that the dedication of the S. Muthaiah collection was something that the chronicler of Chennai would have been extremely happy about. “He was always very particular that history should be documented the way it ought to be and was keen on encouraging youngsters to carry on his legacy. A lot of his work culture, especially with regard to being a mentor for youngsters was very American and he was also fascinated with several aspects of the city’s history which was entwined with America,” he said.
Robert G. Burgess, U.S. Consul General and Lauren Lovelace, Consul for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, were present.