NEW DELHI: Indian citizens living abroad will now be able to file consular grievances online as the government today launched an e-portal to address such complaints promptly with a high degree of “accountability”.
The portal ‘Madad'(Help) was launched at the Ministry of External Affairs or MEA headquarters in Delhi by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who said the grievance monitoring facility would enhance “accessibility” for people and fix greater “accountability and responsibility” on officials.
“The portal seeks to significantly reform the linear process adopted to post grievances from the originator of the grievance to the concerned Embassy or Consulate of India abroad and cut down the time required for grievances to be sent from Delhi to our Missions abroad and to get them to take necessary action,” Ms Swaraj said.
“After registering, the complainant can log in and file his or her complaints, and the entire history of that grievance would be maintained online. The authorities would be assigned the responsibility through a colour-coded dashboard that would change the colour if the response in not given in a stipulated time,” a senior official of the MEA said.
Ms Swaraj said such “Healthy intra-department competition” would act as a deterrent for officials to not let work slide and they would therefore respond with greater accountability now, which would ultimately benefit people.
“The colour code system will follow red-amber-green pattern, that is, missions performing well in redressing grievances would be in ‘green’, while say those keeping inordinately pending cases would show as ‘red’.
“Also, when the colour code changes, it will escalate the case to higher authorities and the entire history can later be accessed by the complainant in a summary or detailed format,” the official added.
All the stakeholders, in this consular grievance monitoring, are tightly linked to the portal, including Missions and Posts abroad and MEA’s Branch Secretariats in Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Kolkata, he added.
“The plan is also to have a call centre linked to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. Besides, we are also currently working on a mobile application to let people use the system on the go,” he said.
Ms Swaraj, who is also the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs (MoIA), said, she brought a team together from the two ministries to effect the plan.
“MEA and MoIA have been separate and I realised that sometimes, the scope of the problem in such matters lied with MoIA but the solution lied with the MEA. And, since I hold both the ministries, I brought them together and the team worked beyond my expectations,” she said.
The Union minister said the project was started as a pilot project in some of the missions abroad, including in Oman, where “I had recently visited.”
The pilot project for the system was started with seven countries, the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, among others, and Malaysia.
Ms Swaraj further said that the logo and tagline for ‘Madad’ was selected through an online competition on www.mygov.in.
The logo represents the image of two persons holding hands, side by side, forming, the letter ‘M’ of the ‘Madad’, written in blue, and the tagline is ‘Because You Are Us’.
“And, instead of awarding Rs. 1 lakh to one winner, we have selected the logo of one candidate and tagline of another, and they will evenly share the prize money,” she said.
The portal has been designed by Tata Consultancy Services in collaboration with the government.
Members of Parliament Arjun Ram Meghwal and Arun Kumar were also present on the occasion.