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80,000 Indians stuck abroad rescued since 2014: Swaraj 

Mumbai: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj says her ministry is now more “people-oriented” and gives priority to rescuing Indian citizens stranded abroad, which was not the case earlier.

As many as 80,000 Indians stuck abroad due to various reasons have been rescued since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came to power at the Centre in 2014, the minister said while opening the country’s first ‘Videsh Bhavan’ in Mumbai.

The bhavan integrates all offices under the MEA in Maharashtra. It is located in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), a business district in suburban Mumbai.

Swarah said that the ruling dispensation has changed the character, the nature and face of the MEA in the last three years.

“We have increased the speed of processing of documents, have made our ministry’s face more humane, and efficiency of services has improved significantly,” Swaraj said.

Underlining the federal government’s people-oriented character, she said that earlier, the situation was such that priority was not given to rescuing Indian citizens stranded abroad.

“Some 80,000 Indian citizens, stuck abroad due to various reasons, have been rescued since 2014,” the minister said, adding that every state in the country should have such regional Videsh Bhawan.

The bhavan will house four major offices of the MEA, such as Regional Passport Office, Protector of Emigrants Office, branch Secretariat and the Regional Office of Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

The Protection of Emigration Office in the Bhavan will play a crucial role as 70 percent of the country’s emigration applications come from Mumbai center alone.

Highlighting her ministry’s achievement, she said that her ministry had got 77 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) as a legacy in 2014.

“We have commenced 235 new passport kendras in the last six months. Nine centers in Maharashtra have also come up. Total 251 PSKs in India have opened since May 2014, which shows our commitment and speed of governance,” she said.

On speedy processing of passport applications, she said, “A committee under the MEA found several rules and regulations irrelevant and unnecessary. We had removed all of them and made the procedure easy for our citizens. We realized that with 4-5 documents, a person can obtain a passport. The unnecessary burden of other documents was stopped completely”.

The minister also referred to the plight of poor Indians who get stuck in countries, like in West Asia, as they are misled by certain private companies and offices.

“In Mumbai, there are many private companies and offices who give false information to poor students or labourers and send them to countries in West Asia or the countries having emigration check point. If their documents are faulty, these people get stuck there for a long time. We are also thinking about starting something for them,” she added.

(Source: Business Standard)

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