Your passports could soon become smart

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Your passport could soon become smart. The India Security Press and the ministry of external affairs are in talks to issue chip enabled e-passports. Such passport booklets will have enhanced security features. External affairs minister S. Jaishankar made the announcement at the celebrations of the Passport Seva Divas. He also shared the slogan—Passport Sudhaar, Vistaar aur Aap ke Dwar, which translates into improved and extended passport service at the doorstep.

With India issuing around one crore passports every year, the passport service has become a massive enterprise. Last October, the work of integrating passport issuance system across India's embassies and consulates with the Passport Seva Project commenced; till date, 25 missions and posts have been integrated. The government also hopes to have a post office passport seva kendra in every Lok Sabha constituency soon.

Getting a passport issued has become much easier than in past years, what with post offices being co-opted into the initiative. With 412 post offices being involved, there are now 505 passport issuing offices across the country. These, however, are still not enough, given the number of applicants, and the distances they still have to travel to get a passport. Several steps have been taken to made the system easier—for instance, the government has increased the number of documents that can be accepted as proof of date of birth and allowed self-attested forms, and allowing an applicant to apply for a passport from any of the offices instead of the one in his or her locality. But it also depends on which state you get your passport from. If you are in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh or Telangana, you get your passport issued quicker than in other states, according to the ministry.

The minister emphasised on the need to use technology for simplifying and facilitating passport services further without compromising on security concerns.

(This story first appeared in The Week)

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