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30 Jul, 2013

India Launches App to Apply for Passports


NEW DELHI, July 30 (NNN-Bernama) — Have an android or iOS platforms phone? Then tracking passport application will be just a matter of pushing some buttons with India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Monday launching a mobile application.

In the next couple of months, people in India will be able to even apply for passport through their phone, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

For the first time in the world, a country’s Foreign Ministry has been able to integrate and consolidate its entire digital presence in one’s hand, thanks to ‘MEAIndia’ app. The MEA envisages the application be a “one-stop shop” for the Indian public.

From getting updates from all the 124 Indian missions in the world, to getting information for consular access in case one is abroad, to booking for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, everything is now available on the fingertips.

“It’s a one stop shop to give one all one needs to know,” said outgoing Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai after inaugurating the app at an event here. He retires July 31.

And in what could be a record of sort, the mobile application project was completed in just a little under six months.

The MEA is the first government department to have a mobile app for smartphone users. It will provide details of all citizen-centric services of the MEA like passport, visa for those travelling to India and Haj related details among others.

“We were a little reticent when we started this process about six months ago… and it is over in little less than six months,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

The main people behind the creation are two young techies (technical persons) from Silver Touch Technologies -Prakash Srivastava and Sarla Meghnani – and young IFS officer Vishnu Vardhan Reddy besides Akbaruddin and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai.

Besides providing a vast information on India’s foreign policies and activities, one can even take part in quiz and win Rs1,000  e-vouchers for buying books.

Not only that, one can even throw a question at the External Affairs Minister and he will answer two of the most voted query every month.

One can even follow Prime Minister on his official visits abroad and get updates as they happen on his programmes, meeting, outcomes among others. Users can also download and watch pictures and documentaries on India, share and contribute their own pictures and suggestions.

In case a person is travelling abroad and is in need of emergency consular assistance, the app will help him to find the nearest India Mission/Post and establish contact with officials there.

Also, in case one is planning to travel abroad for work or study and need to legalise documents, the app simplifies the steps involved for one and helps one identify the authorised agencies for attestation of one’s documents.

“The requirements of communications have changed and evolved and so have we in the Ministry of External Affairs. We have adapted and adopted to these new demands of technology and means of communications,” Mathai said.

He said the Ministry is poised to take the audio route and has agreed with Prasar Bharati to tie up for a regular programme on FM Radio on India’s foreign relations.