A circular has been issued by the foreign ministry last week to all Indian missions by asking them not to outsource any visa and passport related work to ant foreign firm. It’s believed that this move had been taken as a result of huge number of complaints being received from NRIs and others who are seeking Indian visas. The Foreign minister have even warned of disciplinary actions on a letter issued on October 20 addressed to all Indian ambassadors and high commissioners, in case they fail to ensure transparency in all financial transactions related to visa work.
However, as per the WTO regulations, the Indian ministry can’t ban the foreign companies altogether. So, the circular mentioned that outsourcing contracts should only be awarded to Indian companies who may or may not have a foreign partner.
This decision to issue this circular was taken as lots of foreign firms are facing lots of complaints against them, which includes Travisa situated in the US, they all are handling visa work on behalf of Indian missions. In 2007, the ministry allowed Indian missions to outsource visa and passport processing to private companies citing reasons as shortage of staff, and stated that it was no longer possible to handle a rapidly growing number of visa applications for tourism and trade purposes.
As a result of this, the Indian embassy in the US outsourced all visa and passport processing work to Travisa, which handled all such outsourcing work. But after four years, things seem to have worsened. Sensing the adverse situation and that the decision to outsource work did more bad than good, foreign minister S M Krishna during his last visit to the US in September, held a meeting with Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao to find out the reasons behind huge number of complaints from people seeking Indian visas. Apparently, there was not enough staff well versed with Indian languages in all the centers.
As declared by the ministry, The existing contracts will remain for now but from now on, no new contract will be given to any foreign firm which does not have any Indian partner. In any case, why should we outsource to foreign firms when other countries are not outsourcing the same work to Indian firms,’ said an official.
Report by Indrani Chowdury