4 November 30, 2018 COVER STORY www.desitalkchicago.com – that’s all you need to know By StaffWriter ndia’s Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh launched the ‘Passport Seva Service’, a new initia- tive to streamline passport delivery services to Indian citizens living in the United States, with inaugurations in NewYork, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia, last week. The program will be launched at Indian consulates in Houston, Chicago and San Francisco in the next two weeks. The Ministry of External Affairs has over the years taken many significant steps to improve the delivery of passport related services. The ‘Passport Rules’ for one, has been simplified to a large extent. The pass- port services have also been taken closer to the doorsteps of citizens. In India, the Ministry of External Affairs together with the Department of Posts took the decision to start Passport Seva Kendras in Head Post Offices as well. As a result, 236 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras are in operation and many more are in the pipeline. This, when added to 36 Passport Offices and 93 erstwhile Passport Seva Kendras makes a total of 365 Passport Offices available for the public, according to a statement by the government. The Passport Seva Program since its inception has brought huge transforma- tion towards delivery of passport services in India. The ministry also initiated the integration of Passport Seva Program at all Indian embassies and consulates across the globe. As part of this initiative, the ministry successfully initiated the pilot program at the High Commission of India, London, followed by the Consulate General of India in Birmingham and in Edinburgh. The Government of India plans to roll out the Global Passport Seva Program at all Embassies/ Consulates globally within the next three-to-four months, according to a press release. Singh inaugurated the Passport Seva Service at the Consulate General of India in NewYork on November 21. Over the week- end, he launched it also at the Embassy of India inWashington, DC, and at the Consulate General of India in Atlanta. Singh also attended a community recep- tion for him at the TV Asia studios in Edison, New Jersey, where he talked about the new service. Present at the meet were several prominent community leaders, including Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, the Founder and Chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, Padma Shri H R Shah, the founder of TV Asia, and Ramesh Patel of the FIA-Tristate area. Singh explained that apart from signifi- cant reduction in time to process a pass- port, there will be more efficient digital ver- ification process. The service will also pro- vide enhanced tracking facilities, apart from new security features. InWashington, Singh handed over pass- ports processed under the new project to five Indians, including two children, with the Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna looking on. He did the same to fami- lies in NewYork. Addressing a gathering after launching the ‘Passport Seva’ project at the Indian Embassy inWashington on Saturday, Singh said the passport offices at Indian missions have been digitally linked with the data centers In India, which would speed up the process of issuing passport. Earlier this week, the Indian mission at NewYork issued passports in less than 48 hours. “This is going to happen across the world,” Singh said, handing over passports issued under the new project to citizens abroad, reported PTI. Asserting that in the coming days India will have the best passport services in the world, the minister said there has been a major simplification of rules and regula- tions for passport applicants and verifica- tion of a lot of information of the appli- cants would be done digitally. “This is actually going to quantitatively and qualitatively improve our passport services immensely, both in the scope of the applications that can be handled and also in the way they will be handled and the way they will be integrated into the overall much better consular services,” said Sarna, speaking at the launch, in Washington, D.C. The minister said in the next few months, the Indian government will issue a new set of passports, the design of which has already been approved. The new passports will have all kinds of security features and better printing and Passport Seva Project I India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh launched the ‘Passport Seva Service’, a new initiative to streamline passport delivery services to Indian citizens living in the United States, at the Indian Consulate in New York, on November 21, 2018. Continued On Page 6 The Government of India is streamlining services for Indian citizens living in the U.S. Peter Ferreira Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Founder and Chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, presented a copy of the new issue of the magazine US-India Global Review, published by the New York-based Parikh Foundation for India’s Global Development, to India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh, at the launch of the ‘Passport Seva Service’ at the Indian Consulate in New York, on November 21, 2018. Gunjesh Desai/ nayaface.com Singh explained that apart from significant reduction in time to process a passport, there will be more efficient digital verification process. The service will also provide enhanced tracking facilities, apart from new security features.