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Short of staff, India can't open new missions

Shortage of manpower, coupled with budgetary restrictions, barring India in making its "presence felt in various locations".

india Updated: May 21, 2006 11:18 IST
UNI

India is unable to open new embassies to meet the requirements of the new global order for want of adequate manpower, according to a Parliamentary committee that went into the functioning of the External Affairs Ministry.

An "acute shortage" of manpower, coupled with budgetary restrictions, was coming in the way of India making its "presence felt in various locations," the Standing Committee on External Affairs said in its latest report.

Expressing concern over the "huge number" of vacant posts in each grade as against sanctioned strength for the past many years, it said the Ministry had cited the tedious process involved in filling these posts.

"The Ministry is continuously expressing their inability to further stretch their limited manpower resources to open new missions/posts abroad and the urgent need to establish India's presence in various locations has remained constrained by personnel and budgetary restrictions," the 31-member committee said.

Despite this it was surprising that more than 600 posts in the Ministry had been abolished in the past five years, the committee, headed by Dr Laxminarayan Pandey, said.

Unless posts are created immediately by simplifying the procedure, there will be a "mismatch between the requirements of the modern age and manpower," the 11th report of the committee observed.

The members of the committee include Mr Omar Abdullah, Mr George Fernandes and Mr Suresh Prabhu (all from the Lok Sabha) and Dr Karan Singh and Mr Arjun Kumar Sengupta (both from the Rajya Sabha).

The committee said the Ministry was left with no option in cases of additional workload.

Acknowledging that the creation of posts was a tortuous process, the committee said the procedure would have to be streamlined to prevent work from suffering.

"Therefore, the committee recommends that the Ministry should make all out efforts to obtain sanction for required posts and fill them immediately, to cope with the problem as early as possible."

Pointing out that the activities of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) had registered an "impressive increase," the committee said the amount allocated for the institute "is really less."

The committee said it was convinced with the submission of the Ministry for enhanced budgetary allocation for the institute.

At the same time, FSI should organise programmes and courses also for lower level officers for all cadres in the Ministry.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the pace of implementation of the 23 ongoing and pending projects related to embassies and missions abroad, it recommended that the Ministry should reintegrate their efforts by reviewing and proper monitoring of the projects with "new energy."

However, it noted that the mechanism worked out between the MEA and the Finance Ministry would provide for significantly higher allocation for properties or for project work, which would be undertaken in the European, American and Asian zones.