Why in News:
- The Ministry of External Affairs signed an agreement with Tata Consultancy Services Limited for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP), one of the several Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) of the Government of India.
- The latest agreement will facilitate the next phase of the PSP termed PSP-V2.0.
What are the new features
- The agreement will focus on faster delivery of passports to the citizens and create a more effective integration between various wings of the Government for verification of applicants and quick tracing in case of emergency situations.
- The programme also plans to have a Data Centre, Disaster Recovery Centre and Government Secure Repository which would be networked with all the Passport Seva Kendras and the Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK). The overall system would be connected to all the Indian diplomatic missions abroad and will allow monitoring and supervision through state-of-art Network Operation Centre, and Security Operation Centre (SOC).
- The new programme is expected to have technology upgrades including the use of the latest biometrics technology, Artificial Intelligence, Advance Data Analytics, Chat-Bot, Auto-response, Natural Language Processing, Cloud Enablement.
- Advanced Analytics is the autonomous or semi-autonomous examination of data or content to discover deeper insights, make predictions, or generate recommendations.
- A chatbot is software that simulates human-like conversations with users via text messages on chat.
- Natural language processing (NLP) refers to the branch of artificial intelligence concerned with giving computers the ability to understand text and spoken words in much the same way human beings can.
- The newest feature under the PSP-V2.0 will be the issuance of the new generation of passports called e-passports. Under this, new and renewed passports will be fitted with a microchip that will hold all biometric information regarding the applicants.
- The next gen e-passports will ease immigration process across the world and will also increase digital safety for the passport holders.
- The present passport application and processing continues to involve manual sections and these are expected to go digital in the new phase.
- The Ministry of External Affairs said that the PSP-V2.0 is a continuation and enhancement of PSP-V1.0. The new initiative is aimed at creating a digital platform that would be transparent, more accessible and reliable. This will create a state-of-the-art digital ecosystem, overhaul existing processes and integrate various wings of Government that are involved in issuance of passports.
- Current passports are scanned at the immigration counters to reveal the travel record of the citizen using the same document and the e-passport is also expected to perform the same function. However, unlike the current passports, the e-passport users will have physical storage of their biometric data in a chip which will reduce risk of data leakage.
- A mission mode project (MMP) is an individual project within the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) that focuses on one aspect of electronic governance, such as banking, land records or commercial taxes etc.
- Components of Mission Mode Projects
- Capacity building scheme – The scheme envisions
- Establishment of Institutional Framework for State Level Strategic decision- making including setting-up of State e-Governance Mission Team (SeMT).
- Imparting specialized training, Orientation program for SeMTs and decision makers.
- Setting up of a central Capacity Building Management Cell for coordination and implementation of the scheme.
- Awareness and communication – The main objectives of the scheme are
- Build NeGP as an umbrella brand
- Create awareness about e-Governance services and service delivery points
- Build ownership/ stake of implementers in NeGP
- Impact and outcomes – Besides assessment of projects, DeitY also undertakes e-Readiness Assessment of States and Union Territories.
- Standards and Policies – Standards in e-Governance are a high priority activity, which will help ensure sharing of information and seamless interoperability of data across e-Governance applications.
- Henley and Partners Passport Index of 2021 revealed that India has slipped six positions, making it stand at 90th position.
- India’s visa-free score is 58 which means that Indian passport holders can visit 58 countries without a prior visa. Japan along with Singapore took the number 1 position in the Passport Index.