The Ministry of External Affairs,(MEA) also called as foreign ministry in common parlance is the administrative organisation that formulates foreign policy and executes the same through its diplomatic offices located all over the world. Hence, it is one of the top sensitive wings of the Central Government machinery as it is saddled with multifarious responsibilities encompassing almost all aspects of India’s relations with the outside world including its neighborhood nations.
However, it is inexplicable to understand the fact that the Ministry has not published its Vision and Mission document which indicates lack of clear cut orientation and Foreign policy. While perusing the website the following links are hosted in public domain:
- Visits: Outgoing Visits of President, Vice President, Prime Minister, MEA Officials and Incoming Visits of Foreign Dignitaries.
- Media Centre: Spokesperson’s Offices includes Personnel, Facilitation of Foreign Media, Media Accreditation, Documentary Filming in India, MEA Media Campaigns Speeches and Statements, Press Releases, Bilateral/Multilateral Documents, Response to Media Queries, Media Briefings, Media Advisory, Interviews, Parliament Question and Answers, Articles, Indian News Media, Publications, Other Documents, Documentary/Feature Films and Catalogue.
- Consular Services: Guide, MADAD, Attestation/Apostille, Bachelorhood/Single Status Certificate, NORI, Consular Access, Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
- Passport Services: Ordinary Passport, Diplomatic/Official Passport, Notifications, General Instructions and FAQs.
- Visa Services: Online Indian Visa, Diplomatic/Official Visa, E-Visa, Verify Foreign Visa/Permit/CDs, Visa Free/Visa on Arrival, Visa Facility for Indian Nationals (Ordinary Passports), Visa Agreement, Visa Services Provided by Foreigners Regional Registration Officers(FRRO), Checklist for FRRO Registration Formalities, Outsourced CPV Services and General Instructions.
- Diaspora and Migration Issues: Diaspora Engagement includes Overseas Citizenship of India Scheme, Know India Programme, Know Goa Programme, Scholarship Programmes for Diaspora Children, Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, Bharat Ko Jaaniye Online Quiz(BKJ), Students Registration Portal, Marital Issues of Indian Nationals married to Overseas Indians, Overseas Employment, Overseas Voters includes Enrolment as an Overseas/NRI elector, National Voters’ Service Portal, Brochure for Overseas Electors, Brochure for Service Voters, Welfare includes Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC), Migrant Resource Centers(MRC) & Pravasi Bharatiya Sahatata Kendra(PBSK), Legal & Financial Assistant, Compensation Claims, Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojana (PBBY), Indian Community Welfare Fund, Details of Organizations/NGOs registered with Indian Missions/Posts Abroad and Indian Students Abroad.
- Public Diplomacy: Distinguished Lectures, Documentaries, Articles, India Perspectives & Bharat Ek Parichay.
- Dialogues & Agreements: Multilateral Co-operation, Model Contracts, Notification, Social Security Agreements, Labour Mobility Partnership (LMPA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs).
- E-Citizens/Tenders: Tenders, Circulars/Notifications, RTI, FAQ, Vigilance, Complaints Committee, Acts, Legislations & Rules.
- Autonomous Bodies: India Centre for Migration (ICM)
CHALLENGES BEFORE THE MINISTRY
Ministry is often subjected to constructive criticism by experts in the Foreign Affairs especially which may be attributed to the following persistent challenges and issues:
- Equilateral Relationship between Russia and United States
- Rivalries emanated from the Gulf Countries and self-sustained relations with the Middle East Nations for India Energy Security.
- Protection of National Interests in the Multilateral Groupings like G20, NAM, SCO, BRICS, RIC, India_ASEAN, India_African Forum,
- Establishing cordial relationship with all neighboring countries.
- Effective and Efficient co-ordination with Defense Ministry in the protection against invasion and encroachment of Indian land mass by neighborhood countries influenced by China and other nations.
- Lack of specific role functions to co-ordinate with other Enforcement agencies in the prevention of Drug & Child Trafficking, Smuggling of Gold/Diamond, Economic offences committed by Residents, Check on Illegal Employment Agencies,
- Lack of review mechanism to assess and evaluate the MADAD portal making it more robust and transparent in redressing all grievances.
There is always scope to enlarge the role functions to achieve the desired objective which could be realized as under:
- Establish a robust mechanism across political spectrum to play increasing role in global affairs expanding our network of international relationships, political engagement and economic and technical cooperation starting from our immediate neighborhood, West Asia, Central Asia, South-east Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
- Engagement of former MEA officials and Ambassadors/Diplomats across politics to create an enabling environment, the focus of our economic diplomacy by promoting trade and investment flows especially in critical areas such as infrastructure, in assuring predictable energy supplies and in securing the widest possible access to technologies.
- Upgrading our economic relationship with South-east Asia, East Asia, Latin America and Africa by building a new investment-driven partnerships with USA and European Union and nurture a web of cooperative energy security networks in Asia and with West Africa, Central Asia and Latin America.
- To meet our future energy requirements we should develop and build strategic partnerships with other countries who have surplus energy resources.
- To strategically deal with China countering its growing assertiveness by settling all border disputes engaging universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- Establish an efficient vigilance mechanism to dynamically review and compliance of every terms and clauses contained in International Treaties and Agreements with Nation through scientific monitoring of violation of Agreements or Treaties and register all such issues before International forums on a regular basis
- Frequently engaging neighbours in dialogues through bilateral meetings addressing all terrorism related issues that strain mutual relationships.
- MADAD portal needs more transparency to establish a single point Grievance Portal for all Residents, Non Residents and Foreign Nationals to redress all complaints on a prescribed timelines through online. Status of complaints should be periodically reviewed and published in the MEA website for information. Frequent type of Grievances should be consolidated and reviewed so that suitable amendments in Rules, Regulations and Enactments are brought to improve the efficiency.
- MEA should specifically publish its role functions and duties towards Citizens including NRIs.
- To establish a foolproof mechanism to ensure that there is no delay or laxity shown by MEA officials in bringing back the mortal remains of all citizens who die abroad and the kith and kin facing enormous constraints in taking physical possession of the deceased.