The Truth About Indian Passport Offices
A passport is a vital document that proves one’s identity and citizenship. In India, the passport is issued by the Ministry of External Affairs through its Passport Offices located across the country. However, obtaining a passport in India has been a complicated and challenging process due to the bureaucratic procedures, long waiting times, and corruption. In this article, we will explore the truth about Indian Passport Offices, their challenges, and improvements made in recent times.
The History of Indian Passport Offices
The Indian Passport Act was first introduced in 1920, enabling the government to issue passports to the Indian citizens to travel abroad. Since then, the Ministry of External Affairs has been responsible for issuing, renewing, and reissuing Indian passports. Initially, there were only a few Passport Offices across the country. However, as the demand for passports increased, the government established several Regional Passport Offices (RPOs). Currently, there are 93 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) and 36 RPOs all over India.
Challenges Faced by Passport Applicants in India
The process of obtaining a passport in India has been marred with several challenges, including bureaucratic delays, complex processes, lack of transparency, and corruption. These challenges have been primarily responsible for the long waiting times and, in some cases, the rejection of passport applications.
One of the most significant challenges that passport applicants face is the bureaucratic delays in the processing of their applications. There are several stages involved in the processing of a passport application, such as submitting the application form, verification of documents, police verification, and printing of the passport. The delay in any of these stages can cause a backlog of applications, resulting in longer waiting times for applicants.
The process of obtaining a passport in India has several requirements and is not very user-friendly. Applicants often find it challenging to navigate the process and fill out the application form correctly. The seemingly outdated requirements, such as submitting a physical copy of the application form, can be a significant challenge for applicants who are not well-versed in the process.
Lack of Transparency
Another challenge that applicants face is the lack of transparency in the process. The applicants are not always informed about the status of their application, leading to anxiety and frustration. Additionally, applicants who wish to obtain information about the status of their application often face difficulty accessing the information.
Corruption is a widespread challenge in India, and the passport application process is not immune to it. Some applicants have reported that they had to pay bribes to the officials to speed up the application process or to obtain a passport. This behavior is unacceptable and undermines the integrity of the passport issuing process.
Improvements Made in Recent Times
The Indian government has recognized the challenges faced by the passport applicants and has taken several measures to improve the process. Some of the significant improvements made in recent times include:
Online Passport Application
One of the most significant improvements has been the introduction of online passport application. The online process has made it easier for applicants to complete the application form and check the status of their application. Moreover, submitting the application form online has made the process more user-friendly, leading to a more significant number of applications.
The requirement for police verification has historically been one of the significant delays in the passport issuance process. However, in recent years, the government has streamlined the process by using technology to speed up the process. The police verification process now takes less time, enabling the passport offices to issue passports faster.
To ensure that applicants are informed about the status of their application, the government has introduced a system that provides updates through SMS and email. Additionally, the government has set up a call center that enables applicants to obtain information about the status of their application. These improvements have made the process more transparent and reduced the anxiety and frustration of applicants.
Mobile Passport Seva App
Another improvement made by the Indian government has been the introduction of the Mobile Passport Seva App. The app provides a range of services, including passport application, tracking, and information on the nearest Passport Seva Kendra. The app has made it easier for applicants to access the passport application process and obtain the necessary information.
The process of obtaining a passport in India has been challenging due to bureaucratic delays, complex processes, lack of transparency, and corruption. However, over the years, the government has recognized the challenges faced by applicants and has taken several measures to improve the process. The introduction of online passport application, streamlined police verification, transparency in the process, and the Mobile Passport Seva App has made the process more efficient and user-friendly. The government must continue to improve the process, ensuring that applicants are not subjected to unnecessary delays, bureaucracy, or corruption.
Although an Indian passport is a fundamental document that certifies citizenship and allows an individual to freely travel abroad, the system and the amount of passport offices in the country yields an enormous gap between those who possess a passport and those who do not. There are only 30 or so Indian passport offices in the country that allow an individual to apply and obtain a passport. Dissimilar to other nations, post offices and Service Centers in India do not have the ability to process a passport application. The only accessible locations to obtain a passport are found in areas of high population densities.