As a major milestone, more than 100 Million passport services have been rendered from the PSP system as of date.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

As a major milestone, more than 100 Million passport services have been rendered from the PSP system as of date.

The Passport Seva Programme (PSP) is an ambitious Mission Mode Programme of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, and has emerged as one of the most successful programme delivering passport-related services to the citizens in India and the Indian Diaspora living outside the country. The Programme has effectively delivered the expectation and vision of Digital India by way of the creation of (i) a Digital Ecosystem among all stakeholders and offering passport services to all citizens in a ubiquitous manner at their doorsteps (ii) Ensuring smooth governance and ease of services (iii) Digitally connecting and empowering the citizens in availing of passport related services writes Golok Kumar Simli, CTO, Passport Seva Programme, Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India.

The citizens can easily apply for their passports and other passport-related documents online, upload relevant documents, make the payment online through debit/credit card or SBI net-banking/SBI Challan, schedule an appointment through a user-friendly portal, and then visit the designated PSK or POPSK. The end-to-end process has been made completely Digital and Paperless. Indian passports (together with other travel documents such as Certificate of Identity to Stateless persons, Emergency Certificates for returnees to India, Police Clearance Certificates, Surrender Certificates, etc.) are being issued by the Ministry through the Central Passport Organization (CPO) and its all-India network of 36 Passport Offices, 93 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) and 429 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs).

The Ministry has since May 2014 undertaken several steps to bring about quantitative and qualitative improvements in the delivery of passport services to citizens not only in India but also abroad. These have enabled us to ensure that passports are delivered to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, and reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and a committed, trained and motivated workforce. Several steps have been taken to simplify the procedure for getting passports by the general public. These involve simplification of the passport rules and outreach to the people in the delivery of passport-related services. The objective of the Ministry has been to cater to the demand for passports and to reach out to the people located far away from the Passport Offices.

The Great Outreach effort – Since May 2014, the Ministry has opened 16 new Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) which include all the States in the North East of India. A total of 93 PSKs are functioning in the country as of date. To take passport services to the doorsteps of the citizens, the Ministry in association with the Department of Posts announced an innovative initiative on 24 January 2017 to open Passport Seva Kendras at the Head Post Offices (HPO)/ Post Offices (PO) in the country called ‘Post Office Passport Seva Kendra’ (POPSK). The objective was to enhance the citizen experience and for better governance in the delivery of Passports and related services. 429 POPSKs are functioning across the country as of date, bringing the total number of passport-related Seva Kendras to 522. MEA and DOP are working together to open a POPSK in every Lok Sabha Constituency where there is no PSK/POPSK to ensure that there is at least one PSK/POPSK available in every Lok Sabha Constituency. Indian Diaspora outside the country is availing passport services through more than 190 Indian Missions/ Posts abroad and 180 Indian Missions/Posts have been integrated into the Passport Seva Programme as of the date and thus providing the Diaspora a seamless experience in availing of passport services abroad.

To further smoothen the passport delivery ecosystem, the Ministry launched mPassport Police App in the year 2016 for expediting the submission of the Police Verification Reports (PVR) from respective States/UTs. As of date more than 25 States/UTs have been integrated with the mPassport Police App and thus making the police verification process paperless, timely, and end-to-end digital. The passport from anywhere scheme and mPassport Seva App in the Android/iOS platform has also been made operational to provide ease of submission of application at any PSK/POPSK across the country. The Passport system has also been integrated with the DigiLocker system of Meity, Government of India, to facilitate a paperless documentation process in the Passport issuance system. Two ‘All Women PSK’ at Delhi and Cochin, inaugurated during International Women’s Day on 8th March 2021 have been a distinctive step taken towards women’s empowerment.

As a major milestone, more than 100 Million passport services have been rendered from the PSP system as of date. I must mention here that PSP has imbibed the word ‘Seva’ and the attributes of being responsive, caring, considerate, and transparent are the mantra of PSP. It aptly summarizes what we are doing today and where we intend to go tomorrow.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members