The Modi government is planning Videsh Bhavans in state capitals to bring together various offices of the ministry of external affairs to improve services and also save cost.
These Videsh Bhavans, or foreign houses, would also benefit workers and nurses looking to go abroad as well as passport seekers, sources familiar with the plan told HT.
The move is in line with the Modi government’s decision to work closely with states in the matters of foreign policy, as more and more Indians go abroad for work, education and tourism.
The offices of the ministry, regional passport office, protector of emigrants (POE) and branch secretariats will all be under one roof, sources said. It would improve efficiency, cut down costs and ensure faster delivery of public services.
The immediate reason for setting up the bhavans is the merger of ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) with the external affairs ministry. Earlier POEs were under the MOIA.
Indian workers and nurses seeking employment in around 15 countries including those in the Gulf have to go through POEs, which give emigration clearance, ensures their papers are in order, protect them from touts and bring them back, if needed.
Most of the country’s 39 POEs and passport offices function out of rented buildings.
It is not clear when the work on these bhavans, whose numbers are unknown, will begin as the ministry is battling a fund crunch. A plan to improve facilities at POEs has not taken off as the annual budget of Rs 16 crore for the office is not enough.