Technical upgradation in Passport Seva has made it more popular among the citizens, as they find the process user-friendly, simple, efficient and transparent, says Muktesh K Pardeshi, Joint Secretary (PSP) and CPO, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, while sharing insights with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN) about the initiative and its way forward
What latest IT gadgets have you incorporated to develop the process of delivering passport to the citizens?
Under the Passport Seva process, lots of technology interventions have been done to ease the passport issuance system. It is one of the largest mission mode projects under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The project has been implemented by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Public Private Partnership (PPP) in association with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
Apart from technology improvements, a lot of focus has been given on business process reengineering, citizen orientation service, training and change management of our staff and also integration with other stake holders. So, a lot of work has already been done.
Currently, we are working on integration of Passport Seva with other data bases and systems in the country, such as Aadhaar, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) and National Population Register. Over the next few months, linking will take place, which would make passport issuance a seamless exercise for the Government.
Apart from creating a countrywide networked environment for Government staff, it would integrate with the State Police for physical verification of applicant’s credentials and with India Post for delivery of passports. As a whole, Passport Seva enables simple, efficient and transparent processes for delivery of passport and related services.
How do you use Aadhaar in your system?
The Ministry of External Affairs has successfully integrated Passport Data Validation with Aadhaar database. As part of Aadhaar integration, applicants applying for passport-related services would be encouraged to provide Aadhaar number as part of their online application registration process. Passport application form has a provision to capture Aadhaar number during online registration process. Passport Seva system has now been enabled to validate Aadhaar number and fingerprints of the applicants with the Aadhaar database.
The Ministry has successfully integrated Passport Seva with Aadhaar system and the pilot project is running at seven locations since April-May 2015. Countrywide roll out of Aadhaar integration is expected in the next two-three months.
We are working on integration of Passport Seva with other data bases and systems in the country, such as Aadhaar, CCTNS and National Population Register. Linking will make passport issuance a seamless exercise for the Government
What strategies have you adopted to those areas, which are not yet IT enabled?
In the earlier system, there were several states and union territories, which were not part of the institutional coverage. For instance, in the Northeast, we had only one passport office in Guwahati, which used to look into the passport issuance of the other northeastern states, but the situation has changed now.
We have Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) in almost all the northeastern states, while in a few states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura, it is likely to be set up in the next few months. We have PSKs already functional in Mizoram, Shillong (Meghalaya) and Sikkim.
Similarly, we have work going on in Puducherry. We have recently set up extension outfit in Daman & Diu. The idea of the Government is to cover all states and union territories under passport issuance system, connected to PSKs.
Wherever we are not able to come up with PSKs, we are using other options, like the Passport Seva Cab. It’s a mobile cab, where our people go with equipment and organise camps with the help of district administrations and collect applications over the weekend. This initiative has helped us reach several remote areas of the country. Since last October, we have already done more than 100 such camps across India.
Tell us the significant impact of the PSK project?
The project has provided jobs close to 2500 associates, mainly from small towns, and it has improved their family earnings and social standing. The project has also hired close to 45 per cent women including 11 per cent in leadership roles. Various energy saving initiatives at the Data Centre have helped in annual reduction of 70,000 kg of the project’s carbon footprint.
Is the department using cloud technology?
We have not started to use cloud technology in passport work as of now, but we are examining its possibilities in the framework of integrating embassies and consulates with the Indian passport issuance system. There is system available in the data base of the embassies, but they are still working in the legacy system. So, now there is a proposal to link all embassies abroad, 180 in numbers, with the Passport Seva system on real time basis. In order to connect these embassies with the Passport Seva system, several proposals have been discussed, and one of the proposals is the use of cloud technology