India will soon embark on the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-Version 2.0), which includes new and upgraded e-passports, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Saturday.
In a message on Passport Seva Divas, he said: "It is a matter of pleasure for me to felicitate all our Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad and our colleagues from the Central Passport Organisation on the occasion of Passport Seva Divas 2023. This day, when the Passports Act came into force in 1967, is also an occasion to take stock of what has been achieved and to reaffirm our resolve to strive for attaining the highest standards in delivery of passport services."
Jaishankar said that post Covid-19 pandemic, he was "happy that the Ministry rose to meet the challenge of surge in demand for passport related services by increasing the number of daily appointments and organising Special Drives over the weekends and processed a record 13.32 million passports and miscellaneous services in 2022, marking an increase of 63 per cent from the year 2021."
"We will soon be embarking on Passport Seva Programme (PSP) Version 2.0, including new and upgraded e-passports. In line with the Prime Minister's vision of enhancing the Ease of Living' for citizens, these initiatives will usher in a new paradigm of 'ease'."
He said that this 'ease' stands for 'E': Enhanced passport services to citizens, using a digital eco-system, 'A': Artificial Intelligence-powered service delivery, 'S': Smoother overseas travel using chip-enabled e-passports, and 'E': Enhanced data security.
Jaishankar also said that PSP has significantly contributed towards the government's goal of a 'Digital India', with milestones such as mPassport Seva Mobile App, mPassport Police App, integration of PSP with DigiLocker, and the 'apply from anywhere' scheme.
He said that in 2014, there were 77 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) in the country, while this number has increased 7-fold and stands at 523 today. "In the context of POPSKS, I would like to acknowledge the role of Department of Posts and state police authorities as esteemed partners," Jaishankar said.
Noting that he has been visiting PSKs in several states, he said: "Similar visits were also undertaken by my ministerial colleagues and senior officials of Ministry. These visits have enabled us to build a congruence between the levels of policy and operational governance. There will be no slowing down of such efforts in future as well."
He also called on all passport issuing authorities in India and abroad to join in renewing the pledge to provide passport and related services to citizens in a timely, reliable, accessible, transparent, and efficient manner.