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Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh at the eighth edition of Good Governance Day celebrations

December 21, 2021

Panelists from MEA,
Heads of Mission and Post from Moscow, Pretoria, Kuwait and San Francisco,
Representatives from Indian Missions abroad,
Dear Participants,

1. I am indeed, very happy, to participate in this session. Over the last one hour we have heard on Innovative Practices undertaken by the Ministry of External Affairs, and by India’s Missions and Posts abroad. Indeed, presentations and interventions in this session, has thrown light on good governance practices by MEA and its Missions across the globe in the field of service delivery.

2. Friends, I will use this opportunity to share a few thoughts on Good Governance. But first, let me give you a perspective.

3. You all are aware that "Good Governance Day” is traditionally observed on 25th December, on the birth anniversary of our former illustrious Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji.

4. The fact that, this year, as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, this has been extended to one full week, should make it clear to us, that "Good Governance” is a priority for this Government, under the able leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister. The theme "Prashasan Gaon Ki Aur”, selected for this week long observance, highlights the importance that the Honorable Prime Minister places on the inclusion of one and all; and the importance of last mile service delivery.

5. As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of our independence, it is only apt that good governance practices should percolate to the last mile.

6. Good Governance is a loaded word. Experts have identified indicators like participation of the stakeholders, rule of law, consensus based decision making, and so forth, to develop "Good Governance” matrix for an institution. By and large, indicators like effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, transparency and responsiveness are ranked high as indicators of Good Governance.

7. I do believe that all these indicators, together combine to define the Governance structure of any institution. Emphasis should be on all the indicators. Together they define the quality of governance of an institution.

8. In this session, we have heard about the grievance redressal mechanisms, like MADAD, initiated by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2015. Since then, close to 76000 grievances were registered and 71000 grievances disposed or resolved. This is very encouraging. I must commend MEA for this.

9. This is, I believe, over and above the Government of India’s grievance redressal platforms like C.P. GRAMS; which I am informed has a grievance disposal rate of over 98 percent. They are both impressive.

10. However, disposal of grievances raised in the platforms, cannot be the ultimate barometer. These mechanisms should have a well defined time frame for redressal of grievances. These are essential and necessary first steps for efficient, and responsive service delivery to the citizens.

11. Additionally, officials working behind the scene, need to prioritise the other indicators of Good Governance. They need to ensure that the outcome of the whole exercise is efficient, and aimed at effective outcome. I am confident that our officials in MEA and our Missions and Posts abroad, are doing just that.

12. Good Governance also means to pro-actively look into the requirements and the welfare of the citizens. India’s diaspora is substantial. I am happy that Ministry of External Affairs has launched the Global Pravasi RISHTA Portal (GPRP) last December. I understand that the portal is designed to connect with the Indian Diaspora across the world.

13. RISHTA aims to create a three-way communication between the Ministry, Indian Missions and the Diaspora. Effective communication, and by extension, making the tools of communication available to all, remains central to Good Governance.

14. E-Migrate, administered by the Office of Protectorate General of Emigrants, is yet another progressive initiative. This single platform, regulates and streamlines, emigration process for blue collared emigrants. Integration of all stakeholders, involved in the process of emigration, on a single electronic-platform, highly enhances service delivery and "ease-of-doing-business”. It ensures prompt and easy action on all fronts, by all the Stakeholders.

15. Enhanced welfare, especially of the weaker section in society is another aspect which must be at the forefront of Good Governance. MEA’s flagship Pre-Departure Orientation Training (PDOT), started since 2018 and designed to guide soon to be immigrants to ways of life, their rights and obligations, in a new country is critical in this aspect.

16. Of course, while talking about welfare of Non-Resident Indians, I need to highlight the role of Indian Community Welfare Fund, a Fund created by MEA to help Indians who are in distress abroad. This Fund, which is used to help Indians in distress abroad, is indeed a very creative solution to attain the goals of Good Governance.

17. Economic Diplomacy, is an equally important pillar of any country’s diplomatic activity. Making information easily, transparently and equitably available to all the stakeholders; is another key characteristic of Good Governance.

18. One-stop source of business information on India for foreign enterprises, and on foreign opportunities for Indian businesses, is a key in this respect. MEA’s Ind-Biz portal does just that.

19. I am proud that the Ministry of External Affairs, with relatively less public interface, as compared to other government offices; has undertaken note-worthy steps towards Good Governance in service delivery and for welfare of the citizens.

20. Our actions have been right and timely, our aims are well placed. But there is always room for improvement. By definition, Good Governance, calls for continued improvement, be it in policy formulations or service delivery.

21. As part of this continued self improvement, can we consider weaving in the targets of increased effectiveness and heightened empathy in delivering our services and redressing public grievances?

22. Use of technology in delivery of public services and to increase internal efficiency of any institution will always leave a small vacuum, a small gap which will prevent us from reaching the pinnacle of Good Governance.

23. This gap can only be filled by adding empathy and a single minded goal of effectiveness of action. These can only be delivered by the persons sitting behind the desk and in front of the office computers.

24. I am sure that all officials disburse their duty with effectiveness in mind and empathically. But again there is always room for improvements.

25. Innovative practices, be it initiation of chat box facilities by Missions and Posts to address frequently asked questions or a 24 X 7 response systems by Consulate General of India in San Francisco; or the community outreach programs done by Pretoria and Kuwait; or the innovative ways in which our Mission in Moscow has undertaken out-reach initiatives to the Indian student communities in Russia, they need to be institutionalised.

26. Creative solutions and best practices should be institutionalised, so that they do not wither away with change in personnel and personalities.

27. Thank you again, for a patient hearing.

28. I am sure, after today’s presentations, we are a little more aware of various innovative practices being undertaken by MEA, for better Governance. It is also important that we, concertedly, bring these practices, to the knowledge of the citizens, so that they can avail of these opportunities.

29. Thank you. Jai Hind!!


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