The Central Government is pushing for early activation of new Passport Cells in a number of North East Region states, as part of the Centers oft-declared development and economic impetus, the ‘Look Act Policy.’
The ministry of External Affairs issued a statement on December 22, outlining some of the significant international outreach initiatives the government had undertaken during the year. The statement was titled A Year of Smart Diplomacy: Milestones 2015.
Among the states is Nagaland, where the Centre is expected to set up passport cells, called the Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) by the next few months. “The government expedited operationalisation of new PSK in the north eastern states of India like Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Sikkim, besides the one already functional in Assam,” the ministry said.
PSKs in the remaining north eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura, will be set up in the coming months.
According to the ministry, the government has taken a slew of initiatives to simplify and improve passport, visa and consular services to facilitate engagement with the diasporas and to assist business, educational and tourist travellers.
The government said the average passport issuance time (excluding police verification process) has been brought down to under 21 days for 96 per cent of the applications. The ministry has also issued special instructions to all Indian missions abroad to scale up quality and speed in delivering consular, passport and visa services, the government said.
Several visa outsourcing contracts were finalized to better utilize the limited manpower resources of Missions, it added.
Indias Act East Policy, enunciated with great vigour and foresight by the new leadership, acquired a new force in 2015 and manifested itself in the deepening of economic and strategic partnership with ASEAN countries and the extended East Asia region.
Indias diplomatic efforts focused on leveraging synergies with this economically vibrant region and linking up these countries with Indias development agenda, pivoted around interlinked programmes of Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities, Start-up India, M-Governance and Skill India.
The year also saw a marked upgrade of Indias security cooperation with the region, with the two sides mapping out concrete steps to intensify cooperation in combating terrorism, piracy and traditional and non-traditional security threats. These key drivers of Act East policy were reflected in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modis participation in India-ASEAN and EAS summits in Kuala Lumpur in November and in his bilateral visits to Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
The visit of Singapores presidents to India, and Vice-President Hamid Ansaris trip to Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia, Myanmars foreign ministers visit to India and visits of the External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to Indonesia and Thailand telescoped multiple strands of intensified and reinvigorated engagement between India and the East Asia region across the spectrum. UNI AS AKM RJ NS1355