Struggling to cope with expanding international duties, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is ready with a plan, valid for at least the next decade, to meet India’s rapidly growing international profile.
The ministry clearly has ambitions to catapult the country into a world leader, in tune with its aspirations for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
According to senior officials, the prime minister, who is also the external affairs minister, has approved the plan and wants it carried through as swiftly as possible. The exercise, to be spread over a ten-year period, involves an additional financial outlay of Rs 62 crore, at the rate of around Rs 6.2 crore annually.
New Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has been told to fine tune the plan for approval by the ministry of finance as soon as possible, before it is placed before the Union cabinet for clearance.
Menon, in a letter to his colleagues on assuming office, has urged them to respond to his letter by the end of the month, so he can finalise the draft proposal.
The MEA carried out an extensive survey to figure out how best it can cope with increasing work pressure on it, given India’s increasingly growing global profile. The plan, according to documents available with the Hindustan Times, aims to not only increase the number of Indian missions abroad but substantially raise the cadre strength of the service.
Among the world’s major nations, India’s diplomatic representation abroad is restricted to 114 of the 192 member-states of the UN, the draft proposal says. This is much less compared to 163 countries in which both the United States and China have missions. The French are represented in the largest number of countries abroad: 166.