India's High Commissioner to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi has expressed satisfaction on what his office has been able to achieve in the first year in office. 

The Indian Weekender recently spoke with Mr Pardeshi in his office in Wellington about the experience of leading the Mission in this South Pacific heaven and getting an overview of the bilateral relationship between the two countries and the engagement with the Kiwi-Indian diaspora. 

Newly appointed High Commissioner of New Zealand to India, David Pine, his counterpart in New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi and Hon Consul of India in Auckland, Bhav Dhillon at Auckland Airport during the first Vande Bharat Mission led Air India flight from Auckland to New Delhi

Emphasising on the highlight of this first year in office Mr Pardeshi said, "The recent visit by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Trade Minister to India was indeed an important landmark of this year."

"It is indeed remarkable that how our lives and the world has changed in recent times that this recent high-level Ministerial visit is now appearing to be from some distant past," Mr Pardeshi said. 

Notably, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker had travelled to India earlier this year in late-February, taking a high-level business delegation to capital New Delhi and Mumbai - the financial centre of India. 

HC Muktesh Pardeshi at Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame Awards 2019 in Auckland

However, the majority of his first year in office was rightly dedicated to managing the chaos emanating from the impact of Covid-19 global health pandemic, Mr Pardeshi told the Indian Weekender. 

"From the very beginning, our two countries were in close contact with each other in managing serious disruptions due to Covid-19."

"It gives me immense satisfaction in what our two countries have been able to achieve in helping thousands of people facing disruption and crisis due to Covid-19," Mr Pardeshi said. 

HC Muktesh Pardeshi at Auckland Airport during the first Vande Bharat Mission led Air India flight from Auckland to New Delhi

He was modest in accepting kudos for his leadership in leading the New Zealand leg of the Vande Bharat Mission - India's repatriation mission that has till now repatriated record 250,000 people from more than 53 countries. 

"It was a team effort from all of those involved including the team at the High Commission's office, the Consulate of India in Auckland, community organisations which came out to be the nodal agencies of our food distribution initiatives and also the ethnic media in keeping everyone safe here and repatriated back home," Mr Pardeshi said. 

"The Vande Bharat Mission is still a work in progress as we have recently announced the fifth phase of flights in the month of August," Mr Pardeshi said. 

Full interview with IWK Editor-at-Large Dev Nadkarni is available here: