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Overview

Before independence in 1947, the British led India's foreign relations. However, in 1925, the Indian National Congress formed a foreign department to gain international support for the freedom struggle. After independence, the Congress, which led the ruling coalition, formulated India’s foreign policy.

 

Over the years, India’s foreign policy has profoundly changed. Economic liberalization is the most notable change. Today, India is part of the global marketplace and a leader among developing nations. Rapid economic growth and an expanding international trade have fueled this sea change.


more
History:

Under British Rule, the Indian Foreign Department was formed to expand the British Empire's diplomatic footprint. In September 1946, the Indian government created the Indian Foreign Service to oversee India’s diplomatic, consular and commercial representation. After independence, the Foreign and Political department became the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations. The ministry was renamed the Ministry of External Affairs in 1948.

 

In 1948, the first batch of Foreign Services officers were recruited through the Foreign and Political department of the British India government. Officials continue to be recruited through this system, which has led to an organizational culture that prizes hierarchy over efficiency, encourages patronage appointments and often makes bureaucrats feel that if they don’t rock the boat, they have a job for life.

 

As a result, India's consulates are internationally known for the glacial pace of visa approvals and paperwork that can stall for months with no explanation. This process has been traditionally ameliorated by bribing officials or appealing to a higher authority to pressure subordinates.

 

By outsourcing visa services to firms like Traviso and Tatas services in the 2000s, the situation has improved slightly. But for journalist or human rights advocates getting a visa is often subject to political considerations. Among foreign journalists, the ministry is infamous for attempting to influence the coverage of freelance journalists who don't have the backing of a big newspaper like The New York Times.

more
What it Does:

The main responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs is to “evolve, adapt and adjust this policy to meet the new challenges and threats confronting the country.” The ministry executes Indian foreign policy and develops, nurtures and sustains bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries. The Indian Foreign Service has 600 officers administering 179 Indian missions and posts globally, which represent Indian diplomatic, consular and commercial interests. In addition, the ministry also has specialized offices, regional passport and other autonomous offices in country.

 

The ministry also oversees the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Indian Council of World Affairs, and the think-tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries:

 

Attached or Autonomous Bodies

Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR): The Indian Council for Cultural Relations was set up in 1950 to strengthen cultural relations with other countries. ICCR formulates and implements policy and programs for cultural diplomacy. It promotes cultural exchanges and establishes and develops relations with national and international cultural organizations. Headquartered in New Delhi, it has 14 other regional offices across India and cultural centers in 24 countries to create awareness about Indian heritage. These goals are accomplished through administering scholarship schemes for foreign students, granting scholarships to foreign students to learn Indian music and dance, exchanging exhibitions, organizing and participating in international seminars, cultural festivals, and organizing ‘Festivals of India’ in other countries.

 

Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA): The Indian Council of World Affairs was set up in 1943 as a non-profit organization. It was converted into a national institution through an Act of Parliament in 2001. The council’s main function is promoting study of Indian and international affairs. It also promotes India’s relations with other countries through studies, research, discussions, exchange of ideas, and lectures with other international organizations. ICWA conducts conferences and seminars to study India’s international policy. It also sponsors research activities and publishes books, journals, and periodicals.

 

Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS): Established in 1984, Research and Information System for Developing Countries advises the Indian government on development cooperation and international economic relations. RIS also conducts research and studies to assist in policy formulation. It also publishes books, reports, discussion papers and policy briefs. RIS also provides analysis and advice to other developing nations and facilitates dialogue.

more
Where Does the Money Go

The Ministry of External Affairs was allocated Rs. 7106 crore (USD $1287.55 million) for the year 2011-12. From this, Rs 3455.68 crore (USD $626.14 million) has been allocated to external affairs that includes administration of embassies and missions; passport and emigration related works; international conferences and meetings; international cooperation and special diplomatic expenditure. Technical cooperation is also an important element in this budget. A total of Rs. 3050 crore (USD $552.63 million) has been allocated towards technical and economic cooperation with other countries and advances to foreign governments. Through this, India has been extending developmental aid to neighboring and other developing countries of the World. Allocation of Rs 275 crore (USD $49.82 million) was made towards public works and another Rs 75 crore (USD $13.58 million) towards housing.

 

more
Controversies:

Salman Khurshid Implicated in Scam

Union Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid has been accused of misappropriating funds Rs 71 lakh ($0.12 million USD) through the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, an NGO run by his wife, Louise. (The trust is named after Khurshid's grandfather, Zakir Hussain, India’s first president.) The minister and his wife allegedly forged signatures of officials in several districts of Uttar Pradesh to misappropriate funds from a government program. The funds were earmarked for the handicapped. India Against Corruption (IAC), led by Arvind Kejriwal, launched an extensive campaign demanding the minister’s resignation from the cabinet.

 

Kejriwal further charged that at a closed door meeting in home constituency Khurshid issued a veiled threat, saying that if he were to visit Khurshid's home district he might not return. Kejriwal accused Khurshid of behaving like a “mafia don.” The government faced harsh criticism for appointing Khurshid the External Affairs Minister in October 2012.

 

Khurshid Dares Kejriwal to Visit Farrukhabad (The Hindu)

After Controversy, Crowning Glory for Khurshid (by Smita Gupta, The Hindu)

Salman Khurshid Trust Accused of Cornering Funds Via Forgery (Economic Times)

CAG Inspection Report Validates Charges Against Khurshid's Trust (Times Of India)

 

 

Shashi Tharoor IPL Debacle

In late 2010, Congress bigwigs forced the resignation of External Affairs Minister Shashi Tharoor due to an alleged conflict of interest over the IPL’s Kochi team. Tharoor’s trouble began when new broke that Tharoor’s girlfriend (now wife) Sunanda Pushkar owned sweat (read: free) equity in Rendezvous Sports World, which led the consortium that owned the Kochi club. IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi publicly accused Tharoor of influencing him to give Pushkar ownership. Following a massive protest from the opposition, Tharoor gave up his MoS portfolio. Modi was banned from Indian cricket and exiled to England.

 

The Confidence Man (by Samanth Subramanian, The Caravan)

Kochi IPL Row: Shashi Tharoor Resigns, PM Accepts (Times of India)

 

 

Immigration Blocks Kashmir Critic from Entering India

During a November 2010 visit to India, Angana Chatterji, a California-based professor and convener of the Kashmir Process was traveling with her husband, Richard Shapiro, who taught alongside Chatterji at the California Institute of Integral Studies. The Kashmir Process is a non-government tribunal that is attempting to bring a measure of transitional justice to Kashmir's two-decade long conflict. Despite possessing a valid passport and visa for India, Indian immigration authorities forced Shapiro to board the next flight back to America.  Chatterji, an Indian citizen, couldn’t be turned back. No official reason was given for the deportation. But the group Scholars at Risk, which advocates for academic freedom, believes that Schapiro was deported to punish Chatterji  for her views on Kashmir.

 

Scholars at Risk Expresses Concern Over Professor Denied Entry to India (Scholars at Risk Network)

US Professor Deported for ‘Political Activism’ in Valley (Indian Express)

 

 

Salman Rushdie Denied Visa for Jaipur Litfest

In January 2012, the Ministry of External Affairs refused to grant Indian-born author Salman Rushdie a visa for the Jaipur Litfest. Rushdie was ostensibly denied a visa because his 1988 book the Satanic Verses. Rushdie mocked the order, saying it was just a cynical attempt to curry favor with Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. He predicted that UP's Muslims and citizens of others faiths would see through Congress's ploy and not elect them to lead UP. Rushdie turned out to be right. On March 6, 2012 Congress placed fourth in the UP election.

 

Salman Rushdie and the Jaipur Literature Festival (by Monisha Rajesh, Huffington Post)

The Politics of Pandering in India (by Dan Morrison, New York Times)

more
Debate:

Should the Ministry of External Affairs Manage Coverage of India?

Despite being the world’s largest democracy and boasting an ostensibly free press, the Indian state has a long history of media censorship and government bullying of journalists. While China has long faced criticism over their refusal to renew visas to journalists who like Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan and The New York Times’ Phil Pan. India has a similarly poor record. In fact, Reporters without Borders ranks India 131th in press freedom.  The journalism advocacy organization stridently critcized External Affairs for not granting visa to documentarian Tom Heinemann, who’d made two films India perceived to be critical.

 

As in many spheres of public life, the conversation about selecting which media should be allowed access to India, comes down to the shining India portrayal vs. a more realistic portrayal of a country that is making progress but still battles poverty, hunger, illiteracy and corruption.

 

External Affairs Should Manage Coverage of India

The actual reason for blocking the visas of journalists remain unknown since Indian authorities refuse to publicly acknowledge that there is a blacklist.  But the Indian government’s argument can be inferred through their pattern of denial of visas and deportation on arrival of certain journalists. In Danish journalist Tom Heinemann’s case, the Indian consulate in Copenhagen refused to provide a specific reason for refusing him a visa. Heinemann made a film that pointed out European high street brands should take more responsibility for the manufacturers making clothing for them in India.

 

US journalist David Barsamian, who hosts the syndicated “Alternative Radio” program, was turned away on arrival in Delhi. Barsamian’s radio shows runs interviews with Indians who are critical of policies in Kashmir like Arundhati Roy, who is seen by many Hindu right wingers as an enemy of the state.

 

The policy in renewing journalist visa, while also not officially stated, is far clearer. In order to ensure positive coverage, foreign reporters say that they are routinely invited to the ministry and made to bring six months worth of clips to show they are writing positive stories. 

 

Danish Journalists Banned from India Over TV Documentaries (Reporters Without Borders)

Indian Government Cracks Down on Journalists (by K. Nesan, World Socialist Web Site)

 

External Affairs Should Not Manage Coverage of India

Groups like Reporters without Borders are very critical of India’s lack of press freedom, which they rank 131st in the world.  RWB were particularly vocal after the denial of Heinemann’s visa. “We are shocked by the attitude of the Indian authorities who persist in their policy of discriminating against journalists accredited to respected media organizations,” RWB said in a statement. “The Indian government must stop reserving the right to refuse admission to journalists whenever their work is deemed too critical. Such refusals are in direct violation of freedom of information and contrary to the spirit of the Indian constitution.”

 

After Barsamian’s deportation, 100 writers, academics and activists signed a petition on the progressive blog Kafila “to draw attention to the growing arbitrariness of the Indian Government in dealing with dissent of any kind.” The Kafila letter likened Barsamian’s deportation to Richard Shapiro’s a year earlier.

David Barsamian’s Deportation: Statement of Protest (Kafila)

David Barsamian, Founder of Boulder's 'Alternative Radio,' Banned from India (Huffington Post)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Adapt Passport Kendra to Citizen’s Needs

The government has reformed passport services in recent years, launching the Passport Seva Project as a public-private partnership with Tata Consultancy Services. The project aims to deliver passports quicker with less diplomatic hassles and bribes. However, the 77 nationwide Passport Seva Kendras have so far underperformed. Users say the Seva Kendras lack transparency and there aren’t enough locations to serve the number of citizens applying for a passport every day.

 

Passport Kendra a failure: Officials (Times of India)

Agents Hold Key at Seva Kendras (by P V Prasad, Deccan Chronicle)

more
Former Directors:

S M Krishna was the Union Minister of External Affairs from May 22, 2009, to October 27, 2012. He is a member of the Indian National Congress.

 

Krishna began his political career in 1961 as a member of Karnataka legislative Assembly. During his career, he has held portfolios of Minister for Commerce and Industries, Parliamentary Affairs in Government of Karnataka, Union Minister of State for Industries, and Union Minister of State for Finance, Speaker in Karnataka Legislative Assembly, and deputy chief minister and chief minister in government of Karnataka. He has also served as president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and governor of Maharashtra.

 

Official Bio

more

Comments

Leave a comment

Founded: 1947
Annual Budget: Rs 7106 crore (USD 1287.55 million)
Employees:
Official Website: http://meaindia.nic.in/

Ministry of External Affairs

  • Latest News
Bookmark and Share
Overview

Before independence in 1947, the British led India's foreign relations. However, in 1925, the Indian National Congress formed a foreign department to gain international support for the freedom struggle. After independence, the Congress, which led the ruling coalition, formulated India’s foreign policy.

 

Over the years, India’s foreign policy has profoundly changed. Economic liberalization is the most notable change. Today, India is part of the global marketplace and a leader among developing nations. Rapid economic growth and an expanding international trade have fueled this sea change.


more
History:

Under British Rule, the Indian Foreign Department was formed to expand the British Empire's diplomatic footprint. In September 1946, the Indian government created the Indian Foreign Service to oversee India’s diplomatic, consular and commercial representation. After independence, the Foreign and Political department became the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations. The ministry was renamed the Ministry of External Affairs in 1948.

 

In 1948, the first batch of Foreign Services officers were recruited through the Foreign and Political department of the British India government. Officials continue to be recruited through this system, which has led to an organizational culture that prizes hierarchy over efficiency, encourages patronage appointments and often makes bureaucrats feel that if they don’t rock the boat, they have a job for life.

 

As a result, India's consulates are internationally known for the glacial pace of visa approvals and paperwork that can stall for months with no explanation. This process has been traditionally ameliorated by bribing officials or appealing to a higher authority to pressure subordinates.

 

By outsourcing visa services to firms like Traviso and Tatas services in the 2000s, the situation has improved slightly. But for journalist or human rights advocates getting a visa is often subject to political considerations. Among foreign journalists, the ministry is infamous for attempting to influence the coverage of freelance journalists who don't have the backing of a big newspaper like The New York Times.

more
What it Does:

The main responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs is to “evolve, adapt and adjust this policy to meet the new challenges and threats confronting the country.” The ministry executes Indian foreign policy and develops, nurtures and sustains bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries. The Indian Foreign Service has 600 officers administering 179 Indian missions and posts globally, which represent Indian diplomatic, consular and commercial interests. In addition, the ministry also has specialized offices, regional passport and other autonomous offices in country.

 

The ministry also oversees the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Indian Council of World Affairs, and the think-tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries:

 

Attached or Autonomous Bodies

Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR): The Indian Council for Cultural Relations was set up in 1950 to strengthen cultural relations with other countries. ICCR formulates and implements policy and programs for cultural diplomacy. It promotes cultural exchanges and establishes and develops relations with national and international cultural organizations. Headquartered in New Delhi, it has 14 other regional offices across India and cultural centers in 24 countries to create awareness about Indian heritage. These goals are accomplished through administering scholarship schemes for foreign students, granting scholarships to foreign students to learn Indian music and dance, exchanging exhibitions, organizing and participating in international seminars, cultural festivals, and organizing ‘Festivals of India’ in other countries.

 

Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA): The Indian Council of World Affairs was set up in 1943 as a non-profit organization. It was converted into a national institution through an Act of Parliament in 2001. The council’s main function is promoting study of Indian and international affairs. It also promotes India’s relations with other countries through studies, research, discussions, exchange of ideas, and lectures with other international organizations. ICWA conducts conferences and seminars to study India’s international policy. It also sponsors research activities and publishes books, journals, and periodicals.

 

Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS): Established in 1984, Research and Information System for Developing Countries advises the Indian government on development cooperation and international economic relations. RIS also conducts research and studies to assist in policy formulation. It also publishes books, reports, discussion papers and policy briefs. RIS also provides analysis and advice to other developing nations and facilitates dialogue.

more
Where Does the Money Go

The Ministry of External Affairs was allocated Rs. 7106 crore (USD $1287.55 million) for the year 2011-12. From this, Rs 3455.68 crore (USD $626.14 million) has been allocated to external affairs that includes administration of embassies and missions; passport and emigration related works; international conferences and meetings; international cooperation and special diplomatic expenditure. Technical cooperation is also an important element in this budget. A total of Rs. 3050 crore (USD $552.63 million) has been allocated towards technical and economic cooperation with other countries and advances to foreign governments. Through this, India has been extending developmental aid to neighboring and other developing countries of the World. Allocation of Rs 275 crore (USD $49.82 million) was made towards public works and another Rs 75 crore (USD $13.58 million) towards housing.

 

more
Controversies:

Salman Khurshid Implicated in Scam

Union Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid has been accused of misappropriating funds Rs 71 lakh ($0.12 million USD) through the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, an NGO run by his wife, Louise. (The trust is named after Khurshid's grandfather, Zakir Hussain, India’s first president.) The minister and his wife allegedly forged signatures of officials in several districts of Uttar Pradesh to misappropriate funds from a government program. The funds were earmarked for the handicapped. India Against Corruption (IAC), led by Arvind Kejriwal, launched an extensive campaign demanding the minister’s resignation from the cabinet.

 

Kejriwal further charged that at a closed door meeting in home constituency Khurshid issued a veiled threat, saying that if he were to visit Khurshid's home district he might not return. Kejriwal accused Khurshid of behaving like a “mafia don.” The government faced harsh criticism for appointing Khurshid the External Affairs Minister in October 2012.

 

Khurshid Dares Kejriwal to Visit Farrukhabad (The Hindu)

After Controversy, Crowning Glory for Khurshid (by Smita Gupta, The Hindu)

Salman Khurshid Trust Accused of Cornering Funds Via Forgery (Economic Times)

CAG Inspection Report Validates Charges Against Khurshid's Trust (Times Of India)

 

 

Shashi Tharoor IPL Debacle

In late 2010, Congress bigwigs forced the resignation of External Affairs Minister Shashi Tharoor due to an alleged conflict of interest over the IPL’s Kochi team. Tharoor’s trouble began when new broke that Tharoor’s girlfriend (now wife) Sunanda Pushkar owned sweat (read: free) equity in Rendezvous Sports World, which led the consortium that owned the Kochi club. IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi publicly accused Tharoor of influencing him to give Pushkar ownership. Following a massive protest from the opposition, Tharoor gave up his MoS portfolio. Modi was banned from Indian cricket and exiled to England.

 

The Confidence Man (by Samanth Subramanian, The Caravan)

Kochi IPL Row: Shashi Tharoor Resigns, PM Accepts (Times of India)

 

 

Immigration Blocks Kashmir Critic from Entering India

During a November 2010 visit to India, Angana Chatterji, a California-based professor and convener of the Kashmir Process was traveling with her husband, Richard Shapiro, who taught alongside Chatterji at the California Institute of Integral Studies. The Kashmir Process is a non-government tribunal that is attempting to bring a measure of transitional justice to Kashmir's two-decade long conflict. Despite possessing a valid passport and visa for India, Indian immigration authorities forced Shapiro to board the next flight back to America.  Chatterji, an Indian citizen, couldn’t be turned back. No official reason was given for the deportation. But the group Scholars at Risk, which advocates for academic freedom, believes that Schapiro was deported to punish Chatterji  for her views on Kashmir.

 

Scholars at Risk Expresses Concern Over Professor Denied Entry to India (Scholars at Risk Network)

US Professor Deported for ‘Political Activism’ in Valley (Indian Express)

 

 

Salman Rushdie Denied Visa for Jaipur Litfest

In January 2012, the Ministry of External Affairs refused to grant Indian-born author Salman Rushdie a visa for the Jaipur Litfest. Rushdie was ostensibly denied a visa because his 1988 book the Satanic Verses. Rushdie mocked the order, saying it was just a cynical attempt to curry favor with Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. He predicted that UP's Muslims and citizens of others faiths would see through Congress's ploy and not elect them to lead UP. Rushdie turned out to be right. On March 6, 2012 Congress placed fourth in the UP election.

 

Salman Rushdie and the Jaipur Literature Festival (by Monisha Rajesh, Huffington Post)

The Politics of Pandering in India (by Dan Morrison, New York Times)

more
Debate:

Should the Ministry of External Affairs Manage Coverage of India?

Despite being the world’s largest democracy and boasting an ostensibly free press, the Indian state has a long history of media censorship and government bullying of journalists. While China has long faced criticism over their refusal to renew visas to journalists who like Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan and The New York Times’ Phil Pan. India has a similarly poor record. In fact, Reporters without Borders ranks India 131th in press freedom.  The journalism advocacy organization stridently critcized External Affairs for not granting visa to documentarian Tom Heinemann, who’d made two films India perceived to be critical.

 

As in many spheres of public life, the conversation about selecting which media should be allowed access to India, comes down to the shining India portrayal vs. a more realistic portrayal of a country that is making progress but still battles poverty, hunger, illiteracy and corruption.

 

External Affairs Should Manage Coverage of India

The actual reason for blocking the visas of journalists remain unknown since Indian authorities refuse to publicly acknowledge that there is a blacklist.  But the Indian government’s argument can be inferred through their pattern of denial of visas and deportation on arrival of certain journalists. In Danish journalist Tom Heinemann’s case, the Indian consulate in Copenhagen refused to provide a specific reason for refusing him a visa. Heinemann made a film that pointed out European high street brands should take more responsibility for the manufacturers making clothing for them in India.

 

US journalist David Barsamian, who hosts the syndicated “Alternative Radio” program, was turned away on arrival in Delhi. Barsamian’s radio shows runs interviews with Indians who are critical of policies in Kashmir like Arundhati Roy, who is seen by many Hindu right wingers as an enemy of the state.

 

The policy in renewing journalist visa, while also not officially stated, is far clearer. In order to ensure positive coverage, foreign reporters say that they are routinely invited to the ministry and made to bring six months worth of clips to show they are writing positive stories. 

 

Danish Journalists Banned from India Over TV Documentaries (Reporters Without Borders)

Indian Government Cracks Down on Journalists (by K. Nesan, World Socialist Web Site)

 

External Affairs Should Not Manage Coverage of India

Groups like Reporters without Borders are very critical of India’s lack of press freedom, which they rank 131st in the world.  RWB were particularly vocal after the denial of Heinemann’s visa. “We are shocked by the attitude of the Indian authorities who persist in their policy of discriminating against journalists accredited to respected media organizations,” RWB said in a statement. “The Indian government must stop reserving the right to refuse admission to journalists whenever their work is deemed too critical. Such refusals are in direct violation of freedom of information and contrary to the spirit of the Indian constitution.”

 

After Barsamian’s deportation, 100 writers, academics and activists signed a petition on the progressive blog Kafila “to draw attention to the growing arbitrariness of the Indian Government in dealing with dissent of any kind.” The Kafila letter likened Barsamian’s deportation to Richard Shapiro’s a year earlier.

David Barsamian’s Deportation: Statement of Protest (Kafila)

David Barsamian, Founder of Boulder's 'Alternative Radio,' Banned from India (Huffington Post)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Adapt Passport Kendra to Citizen’s Needs

The government has reformed passport services in recent years, launching the Passport Seva Project as a public-private partnership with Tata Consultancy Services. The project aims to deliver passports quicker with less diplomatic hassles and bribes. However, the 77 nationwide Passport Seva Kendras have so far underperformed. Users say the Seva Kendras lack transparency and there aren’t enough locations to serve the number of citizens applying for a passport every day.

 

Passport Kendra a failure: Officials (Times of India)

Agents Hold Key at Seva Kendras (by P V Prasad, Deccan Chronicle)

more
Former Directors:

S M Krishna was the Union Minister of External Affairs from May 22, 2009, to October 27, 2012. He is a member of the Indian National Congress.

 

Krishna began his political career in 1961 as a member of Karnataka legislative Assembly. During his career, he has held portfolios of Minister for Commerce and Industries, Parliamentary Affairs in Government of Karnataka, Union Minister of State for Industries, and Union Minister of State for Finance, Speaker in Karnataka Legislative Assembly, and deputy chief minister and chief minister in government of Karnataka. He has also served as president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and governor of Maharashtra.

 

Official Bio

more

Comments

Leave a comment

Founded: 1947
Annual Budget: Rs 7106 crore (USD 1287.55 million)
Employees:
Official Website: http://meaindia.nic.in/

Ministry of External Affairs

  • Latest News