With India's international engagements expanding at a rapid pace, the ministry of external affairs is facing an "acute shortage" of personnel and is planning to induct 500 officers in the next few years to meet its requirements.
"We have been hearing repeatedly about how small the ministry is and how we are unable to cope with challenges of our time due to shortage of resources. I would like to say that we have not let the acute shortage of resources, which is a reality, stop entirely the efforts to be proactive," foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said at an IDSA book release function here.
"We have created bureaus to deal with emerging issues. We have stepped up recruitment of personnel in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). We have increased intake of people from other services and backgrounds to build in-house expertise in non-traditional areas," he said.
Asked about the extent of shortages, Mathai said, "We have not carried out any study to assess the shortage but we will be inducting 500 personnel in next few years to meet our requirements."
On the role of domestic factors in framing foreign policy, the foreign secretary said, "Domestic factors will influence policy towards neighbours. We have created presence in some state capitals beyond the traditional passport offices by having branch secretariats."
"We have created within the Ministry a development partnership administration that will take charge of any development and aid programme with other countries. This will help in optimising the programmes that are being devised for development cooperation particularly with our neighbours," he added.
Mathai said the visa regimes and consular issues continue to remain a "major challenge" for the ministry but efforts were on to address these issues.