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Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan at the eighth edition of Good Governance Day celebrations

December 21, 2021

Shri Vineet Pandey, Secretary, Department of Posts,
Shri Arun Chatterjee, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs
Shri T. Armstrong Changsan, Joint Secretary (PSP) & CPO,
Ambassadors/High Commissioners/Consul Generals,
RPOs of Delhi & Ahmedabad,
Ladies & Gentlemen.
Namaskaram,


Good afternoon to all of you,

It gives me great pleasure to join you all today on the occasion of the Good Governance Week. My greetings and best wishes to all of you.

I have gone through the programme planned for the good governance week. It brought in several Ministries, departments and institutions together to share their experiences with an aim to improve the last mile service delivery. Today, the government is working on a holistic approach instead of working in silos. A decision taken by the Ministry of External Affairs will have a bearing on Ministry of Education or Commerce; a decision by the Ministry of Education will have a bearing on the rural development Ministry or a policy change by the Ministry of Rural Development will have an impact on Ministry of Commerce. Every decision is interlinked. At this scenario, it is essential to work collectively to derive the desired outcomes. And this is the approach that the Narendra Modi government implements, the 'whole of the government' approach. Good governance model works well when this principle is weaved into it.

As we celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, this year's good governance week celebration is special. It should help us learn from best practices and success stories, unlearn and course-correct from the practices that did not work and move forward for providing better citizen centric services to the common citizen. It’s important because, the forthcoming Amrit Kaal is a decisive period. The aim should be to bring in positive changes on the lives of the people, improve the standard of living, keeping in mind the sustainability aspects. The Amrit Kaal will determine the place India takes on the world stage.

Friends,

During the last seven and a half years, the Government has been consistently working towards the goal of bringing government closer to our citizens. It ensures that they become active participants in the governance process and make the engagement meaningful. The mantra here is "Minimum Government - Maximum Governance".

My Ministry's Passport Seva Programme is one such initiative that has brought in quantitative and qualitative changes in providing passport services to the citizens. The vision of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji and the guidance of External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar has brought in huge transformation in the passport services. Several steps have been initiated towards liberalization of passport services and also in improving the passport delivery system in the country. Now, Passport rules have been simplified. We endeavour and work towards taking passport services more closer to the doorsteps of the citizens.

The Ministry with Department of Posts took the decision to start Passport Seva Kendras in Head Post Offices. As a result, 428 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras or are known as POPSKs have been operationalised since 2014. This when added to the existing 36 Passport Offices and 93 Passport Seva Kendras, makes a total of 557 Passport Offices for the public. It may be noted that a total of 444 new PoPSKs/PSKs have been opened since 2014. More than 70000 appointments are released daily for the citizens seeking passport related services. Passport services are rendered to about 50,000 citizens every day in a flawless manner with a high degree of citizen satisfaction. The 24X7 Call Centre supports 17 languages and handles close to 20,000 calls daily. A mobile app mPassportSeva is also available for the convenience of citizens and receives over 20,000 hits per day. The citizens are informed the status of their Passport at various stages of processing, police verification process, printing and dispatch. Close to 3 Lakh SMSs are sent daily. The Police verification reports which used to take over 30 days earlier, is now taking less than a week, on an average.

The Ministry's constituency does not limit only to Indian citizens within India. We also cater to our large and vibrant diaspora of over 3.3 crore settled in almost every country abroad. To provide better services to them, we have seamlessly integrated over 176 Missions and Posts abroad with the Passport Seva Project.

In addition, the Ministry has taken initiative to empower women as part of Passport Seva Programme. It is important to motivate the Officials and Officers and recognise their contributions. Earlier this year on International Women's Day on 8th March, I had the opportunity to inaugurate two "All Women Passport Seva Kendras", one in Delhi and another at Tripunithura, Cochin, Kerala.

Friends,

With the active use of technology, we are bridging the divide between the government and the citizens. Technology is an empowering tool for the citizens and an accountability medium for the government. We fully recognize the huge potential of this tool. I am happy to mention that we have successfully integrated passport application process with Digilocker platform. This enables applicants to submit various documents required for passport services through DigiLocker in a paperless mode.

The steps taken by the Ministry has helped deliver passport services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment. These have been achieved through streamlined processes with committed, trained and motivated workforce.

As the ecosystem around the passport services continues to evolve, further improvements in efficiency and effectiveness would always be the core vision of the Ministry. Our endeavour is to further simplify rules. Moving forward, the endeavour is to issue ePassport to the citizens in near future. In the upcoming Passport Seva Programme Version 2.0, we will use emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence(AI), Machine learning, Chat-Bot, Analytics, Robotic Process Automation, all of this which will help ease the citizen experience and expeditious service delivery.

Friends,

One of the main components of good governance is the effective grievance redressal mechanism. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji always says that the redressal of public grievances should receive the highest priority. In our Ministry, we have also put in place a robust Grievance Redressal Mechanism, effectively using social media to connect with our citizens and further improving the delivery of our services. All Passport Offices now receive public grievances directly through the CPGRAMS, through PSP Portal and social media platforms. Our Missions and Posts are always available 24/7 for diaspora abroad to address their requirements. Every Mission or Post has an emergency contact number, prominently displayed on their websites, to reach out to them.

It is always important that the grievances are not just 'disposed of' but it is redressed to the 'satisfaction' of the customers. Only then the grievance redressal mechanism is stronger.

Friends,

We have several achievements to our credit but the work is not yet complete. It is a continuous journey. We should always keep in mind that the goal is to 'serve nation' and "Last mile delivery" is important as the benefits must reach the intended beneficiaries.

I am confident that our Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad would continue to provide transparent, effective, and timely services to the citizens.

Thank you.
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