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India and the World

18-INDIA AND THE WORLD

Introduction

THE primary objective of India’s engagement with the world is to ensure a peaceful, stable global environment and create the most propitious climate for India’s economic growth and development. The rising profile of the country in global affairs and its emergence as a fast-growing economy in an otherwise difficult global environment presents a moment of opportunity that can be utilized to diversify India’s strategic and economic options. In this context, India’s external engagements have sought to simultaneously advance and deepen relations with each bilateral or multilateral partner, in the specific areas where such engagement brings maximum benefit to Indian interests.

  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also known as the Foreign Ministry, is the government agency responsible for the conduct of foreign relations of the country.
  • During the year, the Ministry of External Affairs continued its pragmatic and outcome-oriented engagements, to enhance India’s security, uphold its territorial integrity, while, promoting and facilitating India’s economic transformation.
  • Bilaterally, Prime Minister’s informal summits with Russia and China, the 2+2 engagement with the US, high-level visits to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, as also to the Central Asian Republics, is illustrative of a new phase in the expansion of India’s diplomatic engagements.
  • India’s broadening horizons on maritime issues were postulated through the presentation of a six-point Indo-Pacific policy, reinforcing our concept of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
  • India played a pioneering role on climate change and global warming issues with the holding of the First General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance in 2018.
  • India’s emergence as a global forum for deliberations on international relations and globalization was demonstrated through the holding of international conferences covering the three pillars of geopolitics, geoeconomics, and geotechnology.
  • India’s policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ continued to be accorded the highest priority, with a focus on creating mutually beneficial, people-oriented, regional frameworks for stability and prosperity.
  • Projects in rail, road, ports, inland waterways, shipping and energy and fuel transmission are being implemented with Indian partners in the neighbourhood.
  • In Nepal, the Arun III hydro-electric project and the Nepal India Ramayana Circuit were launched during Prime Minister’s state visit.
  • India has offered three lines of credit to Bangladesh totalling US$ 8 billion.
  • In solidarity with Bangladesh’s efforts to provide succour to those displaced from North Rakhine State in Myanmar, India launched Operation Insaniyat and supplied three tranches of humanitarian aid.
  • India is assisting Myanmar to create an environment conducive to the return of displaced persons through the Rakhine State Development Programme.
  • The two countries have signed a Land Boundary Crossing Agreement whereby designated boundary points were opened up to the normal movement of visa holding travellers, including from third countries.
  • The newly elected leaders of the Maldives and Bhutan made India the destination of their overseas visits.
  • India’s ties with Sri Lanka remained positive and were further strengthened during the year, marked by close contacts at the highest political level, increasing trade and investment, and implementation of people-oriented developmental projects.
  • The year witnessed several key developments in India Afghanistan ties, including, the delivery of wheat and pulses to Afghanistan from India, expansion of air freight corridor between the two countries, and commencement of work for several India-assisted socio-economic developmental projects in Afghanistan identified under the New Development Partnership announced in 2017.
  • The “informal summit” mechanisms with China at Wuhan and Russia at Sochi were important milestones.
  • India and the US held their first 2+2 dialogue between foreign and defence ministers, consolidating the global strategic partnership.
  • Prime Minister’s visit to Tokyo in 2018 for the 13 India-Japan Annual Summit further built upon the unprecedented transformation in the Special  Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan over the last nearly five years, covering a wide range of areas of cooperation and highlighting the shared values and interests of the two countries.
  • The Act East policy has received a boost with the renewed global emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region.
  • India and ASEAN have stepped up cooperation to boost maritime cooperation and physical, digital and cultural connectivity.
  • Carrying forward India’s ‘Think West’ policy, coordinating energy and security interests, External Affairs Minister met representatives of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE for bilateral engagements during the year.
  • The India Ports Global Limited company assumed responsibilities for operations in Iran’s Chabahar port, which will provide sea land connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • A waiver was obtained from the US which enabled the continued imports of Iranian oil and separate mechanisms were evolved for payments and marine insurance.
  • At the multilateral level, India continued to contribute to shaping the global agenda on an array of cross-cutting issues such as climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and black money.
  • The G20 Summit also saw intensive engagement, with the first-ever Japan-America-India (JAI) trilateral meeting as also the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting.
  • India announced that it would host the G20 Summit in 2022, the 75th year of India’s Independence.
  • The General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was inaugurated in Delhi, along with the 2 IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting and 2nd Global Re-invest Meet.
  • The ISA is the first UN-affiliated inter-governmental organization to be headquartered in India.
  • India extended, Lines of Credit (LoCs) of about US$ 1.03 billion to various countries and nine projects aggregating to US$ 101.13 million have been completed, and more than ten thousand civilian training slots were offered to 161 partner countries under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme.
  • Given its popularity and in-line with the changing needs and technological advancements around the world, new platforms like e-ITEC and ITEC-Onsite have been included in the bouquet of ITEC offerings.
  • Medicines were made available, inter alia, to Mozambique, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Swaziland, and Kenya.
  • India launched Operation ‘Samudra Maitri’ for earthquake and tsunami assistance to Indonesia.
  • The growing impact of India’s civilizational values on international cooperation, underpinned by the enduring conceptual framework of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, was movingly manifested when artistes from 124 countries came together to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and rendered Gandhiji’s favourite bhajan, Vaishnava Jana, To for a global audience on the International Day of Non-Violence.
  • The Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas celebrations at Varanasi in 2019 further strengthened the bonds between the Diaspora and their homeland.
  • The emphasis of the government on service delivery and citizen-centric governance is reflected through steps to implement four Mission Mode Projects of e-Kranti (fourth pillar of Digital India Programme) namely e-Office, eProcurement,  Immigration, Visa, Foreigner’s Registration, and Tracking System (IVFRT) and Passport Seva Projects (PSP).
  • A number of e-governance and automation projects have been also undertaken by the MEA in consonance with the aims and objectives of Digital India such as Foreign Service Institute Alumni Portal, eAudit  Portal, Revamped Know India Programme and Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Portals, Diplomatic Identity Card Registration and Issuance System, etc.

Neighbourhood

Afghanistan

  • The momentum of high-level bilateral exchanges was maintained, including with the visits of President and Chief Executive of Afghanistan in 2018.
  • Bilateral trade crossed US$ 1 billion as a result of initiatives including:
    • Air Freight Corridor
    • India’s development partnership and capacity building programme for Afghanistan was scaled up
    • Cooperation, including in the areas of security, connectivity
    • Promotion of friendly exchanges was deepened.
  • India has extended support to all efforts for an inclusive peace and reconciliation in keeping with its consistent policy that all such efforts should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

Pakistan

  • The movement in bilateral relations remained constrained owing to the:
    • Continuing support in Pakistan to cross-border terrorism along the Line of Control against India
    • Absence of any credible action on the ground against the infrastructure of support to terrorism in areas under Pakistan’s control
    • Increased incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces
  • Persistent efforts were made to move ahead on humanitarian and people to people issues, including those related to prisoners, fishermen and pilgrim visits.
  • As a result of persistent efforts, India’s proposal to establish a “Corridor” to facilitate smooth and easy access for Indian pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, currently located on the Pakistani side of the International Border, was agreed to by Pakistan.

 Bangladesh

  • During Bangladesh Prime Minister’s visit to India (West Bengal) it was decided to open a Bangladesh Bhavan at Shantiniketan and to receive an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Kazi Nazrul Islam University.
  • Governments of both sides have also expedited work to ensure the utilization of India’s three credit lines – which total almost US$ 8 billion; the highest allocation on credit lines as well as the best terms India has offered so far.
  • Bangladesh is also a major recipient of grant aid, with thirty-five Small Development Projects completed, and a further forty in progress.

Myanmar

  • External Affairs Minister visited Myanmar in 2018, signing five MoUs including the Land Boundary Crossing Agreement whereby designated boundary points were opened up to the normal movement of visa-holding travellers, including from third countries.
  • Substantiantial progress was recorded in accelerating some of our legacy infrastructure projects, with the completion of construction of two elements out of three (port plus inland waterway) of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project.

Bhutan

  • Both countries jointly celebrated in 2018 the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with a series of commemorative events that showcased the strong people-to-people ties between the two countries.
  • The year 2018-19 witnessed sustained progress in all areas of cooperation, including hydro-power, communication, defence and security, infrastructure, health, education, culture, IT industry and agriculture.

Nepal

  • Intensive bilateral engagements, including high-level visits between the two countries, continued in 2018-19.
  • The high-level visits provided an opportunity to comprehensively review bilateral partnership as well as to launch new initiatives in the areas of agriculture, inland waterways and railways.
  • The year also witnessed intensive official and technical level bilateral engagements.
  • India is the largest trade partner of Nepal and one of the largest investors.
  • A number of social and physical infrastructure projects within Nepal and cross-border connectivity are in different phases of implementation.

China

  • The closer developmental partnership between India and China reached a new milestone in 2018 with the first Informal Summit between Indian Prime Minister and Sino President held in 2018.
  • Both the leaders held three more bilateral meetings during the year on the margins of multilateral summits.
  • India joining the SCO as a full member and China taking over the chairmanship of SCO in 2018 provided further opportunities for greater interaction between the two sides at senior levels.

Sri Lanka

  • The momentum from the landmark visit of Prime Minister to Sri Lanka was retained with the implementation of people-centric development projects and expanding economic engagement.
  • Expansion in scope and spread of India development assistance projects to hitherto untouched areas in central and southern Sri Lanka has helped in a change of perception regarding India as a reliable developmental partner.
  • Overall, the ties matured in areas like security and defence cooperation, disaster management, education, culture, trade and commerce, tourism, space and connectivity to a level which can be termed as multi-faceted.

Maldives

  • The new government in the Maldives has reiterated its India-first policy.
  • India undertook a Short Refit of Maldivian Coast Guard Ship Huravee in 2018 at Vishakapatnam.
  • The 14th edition of the Trilateral Joint Naval Exercise, “Dosti14” between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives was held in the Maldives.
  • The 3 Joint Staff talks were held in Male.

Mauritius

  • External Affairs Minister led a delegation to the 11th World Hindi Conference held in Mauritius in 2018.
  • The conference also saw the participation of Hindi enthusiasts from around the world.
  • On the economic front, several rounds of negotiations towards the conclusion of CECPA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement) were held, resulted in the signing of the Joint Study Report in 2018.
  • Reinvigorated Development Partnership involved implementation of several grants-in-aid projects namely metro express, ENT hospital, new supreme court building, social housing and digital tablets for school children under the special economic package of US$ 353 million, civil service college; and 18 other priority projects under line of credit of US$ 500 million.

Seychelles

  • Our pragmatic, outcome-oriented engagement was re-energised in 2018 by the successful visit of President to India.
  • The visit saw the signing of 6 important agreements pertaining to various sectors of cooperation and gifting of US$ 30 million worth Dornier aircraft to Seychelles for enhancing EEZ Surveillance.

Indian Ocean Rim Association

  • India considers IORA an important instrument for promoting cooperation and ensuring stability in the region.
  • India has been supportive of further invigoration of IORA activities across a wide spectrum, ranging from renewable energy and the Blue Economy to maritime safety and security.

South East Asia and Asia Pacific

  • Under India’s Act East Policy (AEP) launched in 2014, India has been engaging robustly with countries in Southeast Asia region, Oceania, Northeast Asia and East Asia.
  • ASEAN is at the core of AEP.
  • The upgrade from Look East to Act East not only highlights the importance of the region through a more proactive and pragmatic approach but also addresses key strategic, economic and cultural opportunities and recognises the role of the diaspora.
  • India is also actively engaged with Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries (PICs) through political understanding, security and defence cooperation, and economic engagement.
  • The Government of India engages with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and Pacific Island countries through its various development assistance programmes.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

  • After successfully hosting the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in January 2018, India continued with its calibrated efforts to pursue a dynamic and multi-dimensional relationship with ASEAN.
  • In accordance with its ‘Act East Policy’, India has boosted ties with the ASEAN Member States across political, security, economic and cultural spheres.
  • There is increasing emphasis from both India and ASEAN to deal with non-traditional security issues like terrorism, cyber-security, and environmental threats.
  • Cooperation in the maritime domain has gained increasing prominence in India’s dialogue with ASEAN and other regional forums.
  • India has made concerted efforts to boost connectivity in physical, digital and cultural spheres with ASEAN countries.

EAST ASIA

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

  • Since its inception in 1973, the bilateral and diplomatic relations between India and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPPK) have been cordial and mutually beneficent.
  • The momentum continued in 2018 as well.

Japan

  • India-Japan relationship has been transformed into a partnership with great substance and purpose and is a cornerstone of India’s Act East Policy.
  • India Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership continued making strides in 2018.

Republic of Korea

  • India-Republic of Korea (ROK) bilateral relationship, elevated to the level of Special Strategic Partnership and gathered further momentum.

Mongolia

  • India’s traditionally friendly and cordial relations with Mongolia have steadily improved over the years, following Prime Minister’s historic visit to Mongolia in May 2015 when bilateral relations were upgraded to Strategic Partnership.
  • A number of high-level exchanges took place in 2018 between the two countries.

Eurasia

Russia

  • The ‘Special and Privileged’ Strategic relationship with Russia, which constitutes an important dimension of India’s foreign policy, attained a new high with the first landmark Informal Summit between Russian President and Indian Prime Minister in 2018.
  • Prime Minister’s meetings with Russian President on the margins of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, East Asia Summit in Singapore and G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires and the regular exchange of visits at the level of ministers and senior officials during the year added further depth to our bilateral engagement.

Central Asia

  • India’s outreach with its extended neighbourhood of Central Asia saw further progress with the visit of President of Uzbekistan to India and that of our President to Tajikistan in 2018.

Ukraine and Belarus

  • Both countries held a Joint Working Group meeting on Defence cooperation in 2018.
  • India and Belarus relations witnessed a qualitative forward movement with the visit of a Parliamentary delegation to Minsk in 2018.
  • India and Belarus also held meetings of the Inter-governmental Commission and Foreign Office Consultations in Minsk and New Delhi.

South Caucasus

  • India and Azerbaijan continued to have productive exchanges with the visit of a delegation led by Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan for the Inter-governmental Commission meeting held in New Delhi in 2018.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  • India has a historic relationship with all SCO countries.
  • This relationship is anchored in mutual trust and goodwill, which are the main pillars of our multidimensional relationship.

The Gulf and West Asia

Gulf

  • The bilateral friendly ties with each of the Gulf countries are deep-rooted in a shared history and have been constantly nourished through growing multi-dimensional cooperation and vibrant people-to-people engagement.
  • The region is one of our largest trading partners with a trade of US$ 123 billion in 2017-18, energy supplies with over 50 per cent of crude oil and 70 per cent of LNG requirements.
  • Besides, strategic oil reserves being created in India with close cooperation with the region and investments in green field oil refinery project add to our energy security assurances.
  • A huge diaspora of over 9 million contributes to the goodwill between the countries besides contributing to annual remittances of over US$ 38 billion (in 2017).

Iran

  • Bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of economic, energy, connectivity, people-to-people contacts were expanded.
  • The Trilateral Agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran for the establishment of International Trade and Transit Corridor through Chabahar came into effect in 2018.

West Asia and North Africa

  • West Asia and North Africa (WANA) continue to remain important from energy security, food security and for global peace and security.
  • This region is a primary source of rock phosphates and its derivatives, and potash—the key raw materials for the production of various fertilizers.
  • More than 80 per cent requirements of rock phosphates are sourced from the countries in this region.
  • This region is also rich in minerals.
  • India forged greater defence and security cooperation with most of the countries in the region through formal and informal mechanisms that include intelligence sharing; counter-terrorism; cyberspace, etc.
  • India has enhanced its cooperation with Djibouti, Somalia and other countries in the region to secure their interest in the areas of anti-piracy and maritime security.
  • The momentum created by several high-level exchanges last year was sustained with exchanges of a series of ministerial/ official visits in 2018.

AFRICA

East & South Africa

  • During 2018-19, India-Africa relations continued to enjoy an unprecedented renaissance enhancing political engagement with African countries.
  • The year saw first-ever visits by an Indian President to Swaziland (Eswatini) and Equatorial Guinea in 2018 and the first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Rwanda.
  • President also visited Zambia (2018) and Prime Minister visited Uganda after a gap of 21 years and South Africa.
  • In order to have a more meaningful diplomatic presence in Africa, India has decided to open 18 new embassies/high commissions there in the next 4 years which will take the number of Indian Missions there to 47.
  • Significant events organized by India at the ministerial high-level included the commemoration of the 120th year of the incident involving Mahatma Gandhi at Pietermaritzburg Railway Station in South Africa and West Africa Regional CII-EXIM Bank Conclave in Nigeria in 2018 and launch of India for Humanity Programme in Malawi.
  • India continued to assist African countries by grants assistance (medicines, books, vehicles etc.), Lines of Credit, technical consultancy, disaster relief, humanitarian aid, scholarship for higher education and a range of capacity building programmes including short term civilian and military training courses.
  • The new capacity building institutions launched included Gandhi-Mandela Skills centre in South Africa and upgrade of Indo-Zim Technology centre in Zimbabwe.

West Africa

  • The region (covering 25 countries of west, northwest, central and South-West Africa) is home to Africa’s largest population and fastest-growing economies with the largest proven reserves of energy resources and minerals.
  • India sources about 18 per cent of its crude oil requirements from this region (Nigeria alone accounts for 11-12 per cent).
  • India imports over US$ 2 billion worth of gold from Ghana per year.
  • India also sources a significant amount of raw cashew nuts from countries in the region including Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.
  • India has been contributing troops including military observers and police personnel for MONUSCO (UN Stabilization Mission in the Domestic Republic Of Congo).

Europe and European Union

Central Europe

  • The growing bilateral trade, business exchanges, educational exchanges and cultural events added to our growing ties with the region.
  • The year saw incoming high-level visits from Norway, Malta, Czech Republic and Denmark.
  • There were outgoing visits of President to Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic and Vice President to Serbia, Malta and Romania.
  • PM participated in the first-ever India- Nordic summit at Stockholm and interacted with the leaders of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.
  • India and the Central European countries continued to extend support to each other in various international fora including the support for each other candidates in international organizations.

Western Europe

  • India continued its multifaceted engagement with the countries of Western Europe including Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, etc.
  • Vice President of India visited Brussels for the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) hosted by the European Union.
  • The Vice-President also represented India at the commemorative ceremony of World War-I
  • India and France marked twenty years of their Strategic Partnership which was established in 1998.
  • The areas of defence and security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the principal pillars of the Strategic Partnership.
  • India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation like security in the Indian Ocean region, climate change including the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and sustainable growth and development among others.
  • High-level visits between India and Germany helped maintain the momentum in bilateral relations in 2018.
  • India and Italy commemorated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations with year-long celebrations in both the countries.
  • The multi-faceted strategic partnership between India and the United Kingdom received fresh impetus with the visit of Prime Minister to London, which was the third at Prime Minister-level within a span of three years.

European Union

  • A multi-tiered institutional architecture of cooperation exists between India and the EU with summit level meetings since 2000.
  • The relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’ in 2004.
  • Today, India and the EU have over 30 dialogue mechanisms covering a large gamut of issues of mutual interest.
  • The European Union came out with a new Strategy Paper for India covering the wide canvas with concrete action points to be worked upon over the next 10- 15 years.
  • In 2018, apart from various ministerial-level visits, there were summit level meetings with Germany, UK, Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and Portugal, which further cemented the already robust ties.

The Americas

North America

  • 2018-19 witnessed significant forward movement in India’s bilateral relations with the U.S. and steady progress in relations with Canada.
  • The first-ever Trilateral Summit involving leaders of India, the U.S. and Japan took place in Buenos Aires.
  • The inaugural meeting of the India-U.S. Ministerial 2+2 Dialogue in set the stage for rich discussion and outcomes on foreign policy, defence and security fields.
  • India’s elevation as a Strategic Trade Authorization Tier-I partner country for the purpose of U.S. trade in dual-use items reflected benefits to India as a major defence partner of the U.S., counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination with the U.S. on regional counter-terrorism challenges improved significantly.
  • The visit by Prime Minister of Canada to India and the India-Canada  Strategic Dialogue of the two Foreign Ministers provided the impetus to functional cooperation on a number of areas, including for countering terrorism and violent extremism.

Latin America

  • The presence of more than one million Indian diaspora which is culturally and emotionally attached to India adds a special dimension to the relationship.
  • During 2018, India’s relations with the region both in terms of political engagement as well as trade and commercial linkages intensified and were marked by many VVIP visits and interactions.

United Nations and International Organisations

  • In 2018, India continued its active engagements with international organizations including the United Nations (UN), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Commonwealth.
  • PM led the Indian delegation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in London.
  • External Affairs Minister led the Indian delegation at the 18th NAM Mid-term Ministerial conference held in Baku.
  • EAM also led the Indian delegation during the High-Level Segment of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Session.

India and Peacekeeping:

  • India continued to push for greater priority to be given within the UN system for the global counter-terrorism effort.
  • It was repeatedly highlighted that the international community needed to strengthen its legal framework that supported international counter-terrorism cooperation by reaching agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), and ensure greater transparency and effectiveness of existing UN counter-terrorism structures.
  • India continued to be the largest cumulative contributor of UN Peacekeeping troops, having provided more than 200,000 troops and police personnel since the 1950s.
  • As on 31 October 2018, India is the fourth largest Troop Contributing Country (TCC) with 6,608 personnel deployed in 9 peacekeeping missions.
  • India was elected to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for the term 2019-2021, securing the highest number of votes (188 out of 193) among all the 18 candidate countries.
  • India was re-elected to the Committee on Non-Governmental  Organisations (CNGO) for the term 2019-2022.
  • India was re-elected as a member of the International Telecommunications Union Council (ITU) for 2019-2022 term.

States Division

  • MEA has a States Division, established in 2014, to foster closer links between Indian missions and posts abroad and states/union territories.
  • It facilitates the signing of various Sister City/Sister States and other MoUs between state/union territory governments and foreign entities.
  • In order to enhance external outreach of states/union territories, it represented MEA at various events in the states, including global investor meets and significant cultural events of states that generate significant international exposure for the states of India.

Counter Terrorism

  • In the wake of various terrorism-related incidents that occurred in different parts of the world in 2017, the issue of terrorism found prominent mention in various high-level bilateral and multilateral meetings.
  • During all such interactions, India strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterated its commitment to combating the menace at a global level.

Global Cyber Issues

  • Increasing use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the social and economic development of nations has made cyber issues one of the significant subjects of diplomatic discussions around the world.
  • In keeping with its profile, the MEA upscaled its Global Cyber Issues cell to create the new Cyber Diplomacy (CD) Division which has been entrusted with the responsibility of projection and safeguarding of Indian interests on the subject in international fora.

Consular, Passport and Visa Services

  • During 2018, the Ministry processed more than 1.21 crore passport and passport related applications in India compared to 1.17 crore during 2017 showing a growth of 4 per cent.
  • The 184 Indian Missions/ Posts abroad issued approximately 11,63,026 passports.
  • Thus, the Government of India, in total, issued 1,24,17,733 passports in 2018.  
  • As on December 2018, over 7.96 crore citizens held valid passports.
  • India today is placed third behind China and the United States in terms of global passport issuance.
  • The Ministry, in association with the Department of Posts, has taken an innovative initiative to open Passport Seva Kendras at the Head Post Offices (HPO)/ Post Offices in the country to be known as ‘Post Office Passport Seva Kendra’ (POPSK).
  • The mPassport Seva Mobile App with additional facilities to apply pay and schedule appointments for passport services were launched in 2018.
  • Citizens do not require access to a computer and printer to apply for passport services.
  • From June 2018, an applicant can apply for a passport from anywhere in India.
  • One lakh applications were filed under this scheme during 2018.

Overseas Indian Affairs

  • The Overseas Indian Affairs Divisions are driven by the vision of development through coalitions in a world without borders.
  • They seek to connect the Indian diaspora to India, and also to strengthen the institutional frameworks which provide for the support and welfare of overseas Indians.
  • It provides information, partnership, and facilitation for all matters related to the Indian diaspora.
  • As part of the government’s commitment to strengthen engagement with the diaspora, among the major
  • initiatives hosted during 2018-2019 were Videsh Sampark outreach programme, Know India Programme, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Conferences, a Scholarship programme for diaspora children, and Awareness Campaign on Safe and Legal Migration.

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