There might be encrypted codes to transmit ‘top secret’ communication and ‘cypher’ messages to convey secret instructions from headquarters to our diplomats at foreign missions across the globe, but at the end of the day, the diplomatic bag is the lifeline of missions abroad. The average official’s link with home, the diplomat’s courier service and, in the words of an official, a ‘vital tool of diplomatic communication’.
At a time when efforts are on to plug loopholes to security and diplomatic communications are becoming increasingly sensitive, the ministry of external affairs has, in its wisdom, decided to outsource transportation of the diplomatic bag. Ironically, a circular announcing this decision was sent out on Terrible Tuesday when serial bomb blasts killed nearly 200 people in Mumbai on July 11.
The circular, sent to all IFS personnel, informs that the MEA has signed an agreement with M/s Dadson Global Cargo, a New Delhi-based company, ‘for outsourcing certain nature of work of DB (diplomatic bag) section’. The importance of the bag can be gauged from the fact that there is a whole section within MEA to deal with it.
Under the agreement, Dadson “would be responsible for despatch and collection of diplomatic bags to/from missions /posts abroad,” the letter said. “Instances of late or non-receipt of diplomatic bags may henceforth” be addressed to Dadson, the letter says. There will be a six-month trial period, to check if services improve. Letters going missing have plagued internal communications of the ministry, with officials abroad not wishing to implement instructions often conveniently claiming they did not receive the letter.
The letter also deals with that eventuality. “Any discrepancy about the contents of the diplomatic bag need not be addressed to Dadson. It should be brought to the notice of the DB section only.”
There are two categories of ‘bag’; ‘A’ for official, important mail, and ‘B’ for ordinary letters from family and friends back home.