On January 7, the Ministry of External Affairs inked a deal with Tata Consultancy Services Limited for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP), one of the Government of India’s several Mission Mode Projects (MMPs). The current agreement will pave the way for the PSP’s next phase, known as PSP-V2.0. The $1 billion agreement will focus on delivering passports to citizens faster and creating a more effective integration between various government wings, such as the MEA and the local police network so that they can work together for applicant verification and quick tracing in emergency situations.
What is the feature of the new passport initiative programme?
Manual sections of the current passport application and processing are likely to be replaced with digital sections in the future phase. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, PSP-V2.0 is a “continuation and upgrade” of PSP-V1.0. According to an official release, the new project aims to create a “transparent, more accessible, and dependable” digital platform that would be backed by a trained workforce. This will result in the creation of a cutting-edge digital ecosystem, as well as the overhauling of current procedures and the integration of multiple government departments engaged in passport issues. However, the problem of employee training in the new procedure has yet to be addressed, and it is likely to take some time.
What will the partnership with TCS entail?
According to the MEA, Tata Consultancy Services would provide “support services” such as “citizen interface, technical backbone, call centers, training, and change management.” In the process of issuing passports, the government will exercise “all sovereign and security-related duties.” The government will own strategic assets such as data centers, databases, and application software, with access regulated by biometrics. A Data Center, Disaster Recovery Center, and Government Secure Repository are also planned for the initiative, which will be connected to all Passport Seva Kendras and Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK). The total system will be linked to all Indian diplomatic missions across the world, allowing for monitoring and oversight via a state-of-the-art Network Operation Centre and a Security Operation Centre (SOC). Through the Global Passport Seva Programme (GPSP), the programme has recently been linked to more than 176 Indian missions and posts, ensuring seamless delivery of passport services to the Indian diaspora, the MEA said in a statement.
However, public-private collaboration is needed to solve the shortage of government staff in passport offices around the country. The declaration said that the government is preparing to establish Seva Kendras in all of the country’s Lok Sabha seats. However, according to workers in the Passport division, there are still many openings in government posts in these offices, and a complete spectrum of “monitoring and oversight” would require additional government personnel. These openings have yet to be filled, despite the government’s aggressive growth plans. A passport officer has yet to be assigned to each of the 36 current passport offices.
What new features will be included in PSP-V2.0?
The newest biometrics technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Data Analytics, Chat-Bot, Auto-response, Natural Language Processing, and Cloud Enablement are likely to be used in the new programme. The issue of the next generation of passports, known as e-passports, will be the most recent function added to the PSP-V2.0. New and renewed passports will be equipped with a microchip that will save all biometric data about the applicants. In a social media statement, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, the Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs in charge of passport services, claimed that next-generation e-passports would simplify immigration processes throughout the world while also increasing digital security for passport holders.
How will the new e-passports differ from traditional passports?
At immigration counters, current passports are scanned to display the trip history of the person who is using the same document, and the e-passport is intended to fulfill the same role. Unlike holders of existing passports, however, e-passport holders will have their biometric data physically stored on a chip, reducing the risk of data leakage.
Is public-private cooperation devoid of flaws?
Since 2008, the MEA-TCS partnership has been a part of the passport process, assisting in the increased digitization of a complicated procedure that involves various stakeholders from throughout the broad government network. However, it is known that more cooperation between the two wings of public and private personnel would make it easier for residents to apply for and get passports without experiencing delays or rejections.