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Indian missions across the world to issue passports in less than 48 hours soon: V K Singh

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V K Singh

Washington | Indian missions across the world would soon issue passports in less than 48 hours to citizens abroad, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said here.

Addressing a gathering after launching the ‘Passport Seva’ project at the Indian Embassy here on Saturday, he said the passport offices at Indian missions have been digitally linked with the data centre back home, which would speed up the process of issuing passport.

Earlier this week, the Indian mission at New York issued passports in less than 48 hours. “This is going to happen across the world,” Singh said, handing over passports issued under the new project to citizens abroad.

Asserting that in the coming days India will have the best passport services in the world, the minister said there has been a major simplification of rules and regulations for passport applicants and verification of a lot of information of the applicants would be done digitally. The ‘Passport Seva’ project was first launched in the UK last month.

In US, the project was first rolled out in New York on November 21, followed by Washington on Saturday. It would be subsequently launched in Indian Consulates at Atlanta, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.

After the UK and the US, the project would be extended to all the Indian missions across the globe, Singh said.

Navtej Singh Sarna, Indian Ambassador to the US, who was also present at the launch, said, “This is actually going to quantitatively and qualitatively improve our passport services immensely, both in the scope of the applications that can be handled and also in the way they will be handled and the way they will be integrated into the overall much better consular services.”

The minister said in the next few months, the Indian government will issue a new set of passports, the design of which have already been approved.

The new passports will have all kind of security features and better printing and paper quality, Singh said.

However, “there will be no change in the colour of the Indian passport,” he clarified.

Singh further said by March “our effort is to have 500 passport offices or centres across India” to ensure that “no citizen in India has to travel more than 50-60 km to apply for a passport”. Currently the number stands at 336.

Later in the evening, Singh was felicitated by the local Indian community at a reception hosted by the National Council of Asian Indian associations in collaboration with other Indian community organisations.

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India invited as ‘Guest of Honour’ to OIC meet, Sushma Swaraj to attend

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Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour.

 

New Delhi| In a significant move, India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers’ conclave of the OIC, a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend it in Abu Dhabi next month as the ‘guest of honour’.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the invitation a “welcome recognition” of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.

Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour. The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.

The invitation to India by the OIC comes at a time when India has been mounting a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan to isolate it internationally following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and, often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.

The MEA said Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan invited Swaraj as the ‘guest of honour’ to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation.

“We see this invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level,” the MEA said in a release.

“We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. We also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world,” it said.

India is, therefore, happy to accept the invitation and thanked the leadership of the UAE for it, the ministry said.

Last year, Bangladesh proposed a restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state” of the 50-year old grouping.

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Assam hooch tragedy death toll mounts to 59, 200 taken ill

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Jorhat| At least 59 people have died and over 200 taken ill after consuming spurious liquor in tea gardens in Assam‘s Golaghat and Jorhat since Thursday night, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

The death toll is rising every minute, the minister said after visiting Jorhat Medical College Hospital (JMCH) here.

“This morning the death toll in Golaghat and Jorhat districts was 59 and 200 people have been admitted to hospitals. The death toll and the number of people admitted are changing minute by minute,” Sarma told reporters after meeting some patients at the hospital.

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100 cars gutted in fire at Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru | More than 100 cars have been gutted in to fire at the parking lot near the Aero India Show held at the Yelahankha air base in Bengaluru.

According to a local eye witness, a grass fire spread to parking area number 5 and some vehicles which were parked there have also caught fire. The fire department has stated that around 80-100 cars gutted in fire near the venue of the Aero India Show in Bengaluru.

 

Officials stated that around 10 fire engines have rushed to the spot. Responding on the incident Senior police official MNReddi tweeted, “Fire in the open field parking lot of aero show. Nearly 20 cars burnt. Fire fighting operations by Chief Fire Officer and 10 water tenders staff underway.”

Earlier on Tuesday, one fighter pilot was killed after two Surya Kiran Aircraft crashed during the rehearsal of the Aero India Show.

 

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