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External Affairs Minister’s Address at the Celebration of Passport Seva Divas (June 24, 2019)

June 24, 2019

Namaskar,
Secretary (Posts) Shri Ananta Narayan Nanda,
Secretary (CPV & OIA) Shri Sanjiv Arora,
Joint Secretary (PSP) & Chief Passport Officer Shri Arun Chatterjee,
Regional Passport Officers,
All colleagues from MEA,
Awardees of Passport Seva Puraskars,
Friends from the Media,

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I am delighted to join all of you at this annual celebration of the Passport Seva Divas at a time when we are experiencing unprecedented growth of passport and passport related services in the country. The last five years of passport services delivered by the Ministry, in the words of my illustrious predecessor External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj ji, indeed constituted a "Passport Revolution”. Under the leadership of Prime Minister, various initiatives that this Ministry took in bringing about a visible change in the delivery mechanism of passport services to our citizens both within the country and abroad. Let me assure you that Minister of State and I would continue to pursue the process of reforms in the delivery of citizen-centric services by the Ministry.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

2. It gives me great pleasure to felicitate all our Passport Issuing Authorities, who have strived to ensure transparent and efficient passport delivery systems and services in the country and abroad for the benefit of our citizens. Today, as we celebrate the Passport Seva Divas, we rededicate ourselves to work towards further improving these systems.

3. The mandate of my Ministry is to ensure good governance and a transparent, efficient, timely, effective, reliable, assured and accountable public service delivery system. Issue of passports would definitely remain a core area for us. As we move ahead, our focus would continue to remain on proactive outreach and further simplification of the rules and processes for issuing passport without compromising the legitimate security concerns. To this end, we should make optimal use of the technology available with us and the tools provided by the Government’s initiative under "Digital India”.

4. During the Passport Seva Divas last year, the mPassportSeva Mobile App and ‘Applying for a Passport from anywhere’ scheme were launched. These two initiatives demonstrate how technology can help passport applicants. Using the App, one can now apply for a passport, pay the fees and schedule an appointment using the mobile phone. The ‘Passport from Anywhere’ initiative enabled applicants to apply for a passport from any Passport Seva Kendra even if it was not situated within the jurisdiction of the residential address of the applicant. A seamless process has helped in increasing the speed of service delivery and reduced public grievances to a large extent.

5. Our Government, in its previous tenure, took major initiatives in the simplification of the passport rules. For example, we have increased the number of documents acceptable as proof of date of birth and rationalized the number of additional documents which were required to be submitted with the passport applications. Self-attested documents instead of notorized ones are now acceptable. We have eased the process of getting passports for minors by their single parent and also for applicants who are either separated or divorced. Those applying for a passport under the ‘Tatkaal’ Scheme are no longer required to submit a Verification Certificate from a Gazetted Officer. These changes have been made to the great benefit of our citizens who have welcomed these liberalized policies overwhelmingly.

6. As a part of our outreach efforts, we have now taken passports to the doorsteps of the citizens. This Ministry is extremely grateful to Hon’ble Minister of Communications, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasadji who couldn’t join us today on account of his Parliamentary commitments and the Department of Posts under his charge for enabling us in opening 412 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras since January 2017. Together with the 93 Passport Seva Kendras which are already functional, this has taken the total number of Passport Seva Kendras in the country to 505 today. The common man of the country now has a Passport Seva Kendra near his or her residence and is not required to travel too far to submit the passport application. The partnership between MEA and Department of Posts is indeed a wonderful example of the best practice in citizen-centric governance.

7. In line with the commitment made by our Government in its previous tenure, we shall continue with the process of opening a new POPSK in every Lok Sabha Constituency where no PSK exits today. Both our Ministries are completing the necessary formalities for early inauguration of the POPSK already announced. We would also be announcing more locations for setting-up POPSK after completing the feasibility studies.

8. The State Police Authorities have an important role in the timely delivery of passports. I am very happy that they have recognize today, the average time taken for police verification has come down to 19 days in 2018, we would like to bring this down further. In this context, the performance of States like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala has been exemplary and their award today is well deserved.

9. I am happy that the India Security Press, Nashik, is working towards further improving the quality and security features of our passport booklet. The Ministry has initiated discussions with the India Security Press regarding the project for issue of chip enabled e-passports to the citizens. We propose to pursue the manufacture of e-passports on priority so that a new passport booklet with advanced security features can be rolled out in the near future.

10. As a part of our global public outreach efforts, the work of integrating the passport issuance system in our Missions and Posts abroad into the Passport Seva Project was started in October, 2018. It is noteworthy that the major passport issuing 25 Missions and Posts have been integrated during this period. We are taking steps to complete integrating all the Missions and Posts abroad in a time bound manner which would enable us to deliver passport and passport related services to our diaspora abroad in an even more efficient manner.

11. We have been issuing, on an average, more than 1 crore passports every year. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the productivity level of our officials has also increased appreciably in these years. I would like to specially compliment the officials of the Central Passport Organization and our Passport Officers for this very laudable achievement. This would not have been possible without their exemplary diligence, dedication and commitment towards public service.

12. Equally important in this endeavour has been the tremendous cooperation that our Ministry has been receiving from the State Police Authorities, the Department of Posts, and India Security Press, Nashik. All of which I had acknowledged earlier.

13. Let me also take the opportunity to compliment Service Providers for having contributed in a very substantial way in making the story of issuing passports in India today a huge success.

14. I congratulate the winners of the Passport Seva Puraskars and hope that they would continue to serve the public with even higher zeal, enthusiasm and dedication.

15. The Ministry of External Affairs has coined the adage for passport services as: "Passport – Sudhaar, Vistaar aur Aap ke Dwar”. The outreaching mantra of our Government today is: "Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas”. The two messages get intertwined as we move towards further enhancing the Transparency, Performance and Delivery of the governance system. I call upon all of you today to continue striving towards providing good governance and putting in place systems for proper implementation of the policies of the Government, and thereby strengthen the confidence of the people.

16. I would like to once again emphasise the word ‘Seva’ as contained in the ‘Passport Seva Project’. The attributes of being responsive, caring, considerate, and transparent are necessary for all of you. It aptly summarizes what we are doing today and where we intend to go tomorrow. Empowered by technology and your hard work and experience in this field, I am confident that all of you will gear to work relentlessly towards fulfilling our commitments to the public in delivering passports and its related services.

I wish you all a very productive deliberation today, and I thank you very for being care.

New Delhi
June 24, 2019
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