The clean-up exercise was conducted under the aegis of Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay with the aim of serving the community better and keeping visa and passport records in a proper and easy to access manner.

The cleanliness drive is about "overall and holistic cleansing," Mulay said.

"I think we should be clean in every respect," he said, adding that a clean environment has a psychological impact on the morale of the staff. "Only when you keep the premises clean can one serve the people better."

The initiative has garnered appreciation from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who said in a communication to the Consul General that the extensive cleanliness drive "has come in for much praise as a stellar example."

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh also applauded the efforts in view of the Swachh Bharat mission and said the Consulate's initiative will be shared with other Indian missions "in order to inspire them to similar efforts."

The cleaning drive, which the Consulate began a year and half ago when Mulay took charge, was undertaken in the basement and staff offices at the Consulate premises which were cluttered with visa documents, files and other Consular paperwork accumulated over a period of many years.

Mulay said since the Consulate handles innumerable visa applications, passports, OCI and PIO cards, a lot of documents had accumulated that needed to be kept properly.

However, the basement, sub-basement and passageways in the Consulate had become stacked with tonnes of documents, artifacts and files that posed a safety and fire hazard in the 111-year old historic building in the heart of Manhattan.

Mulay inspired his staff and personnel to whole-heartedly undertake the cleanliness drive, the end result of which is improved storage, creation of more space, better preservation of records and proper disposal of unwanted documents.

In the second phase of the cleanliness drive, the Consulate would undertake renovation, modernisation and conservation and is consulting experts from the renowned Metropolitan Museum of New York.

During the exercise, several valuable artifacts, musical instruments and portraits of Indian leaders were also unearthed that are now being displayed at the Consulate.

The Consulate is in talks to hand over a collection of informative videos and documentaries to the New York University where they can be archived.

Mulay emphasised that the Swachh Bharat campaign of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be taken to a global platform so that a deserving image of India is sent across the world.

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