Although the Indian passport has a ten-year validity, the passport authorities and Ministry of External Affairs have many travel documents they renew annually. The process is, more often than not, tedious and time consuming on both sides. To assist and create a smoother one, the Government introduced the eGovernance platforms for people to connect with them and be a part of the decision making processes with various Government documents.
eGovernance platforms across the country saw a massive response, with an increase of more than 50% of people who were a part of the process in the past, now involving themselves in decisions of the Government. The passport is a relevant and mandatory travel document for an individual travelling from one country to another, whether for work, pleasure, medical reasons, or otherwise. India currently issues passports from 93 passport offices around the country and 197 diplomatic missions abroad. In 2015, India issued 12 million of these travel documents, with only two countries issuing a larger number, China and the United States. By the end of 2015, there were approximately 65 million valid Indians passports globally with the number only increasing in the years to come.
There are several processes connected to getting a passport with three different variants. While most usually apply for a regular passport, there are a few who receive the official or diplomatic passport depending on the application process. Passport holders should complete a passport renewal before the passport expires to carry forward their long term visas.
When completing the renewal process for a passport, it takes about a month to process all the information. Applicants can provide the details at the passport office, where they would need some forms to be filled out, along with a list of supporting documents.
However, when they handle the process through the eGovernance platform, it does become a lot easier since all the application forms are available. Applicants can further download the ones
they need, along with a list of supporting documents so they can gather them at their convenience. They can then get through the process at their convenience, fill out the forms that should not take more than 15 minutes and upload their supporting documents. They automatically receive an account on the website to review the status of their passport and receive notifications about the dispatch time. They can use the same account for all other purposes relating to coordinating their passports as well. They can use it to gather new forms if they need to make changes to their passports, get a duplicate passport or anything else.
Other than working on a passport, other processes are also handled through the eGovernance platform, with another common one being registering a child’s birth. There are various challenges when it comes to getting a birth certificate for a child. The birth of the child has to be registered with several documents to receive a birth certificate.
More than 35% of children under the age of five years do not have their birth certificates. The number is significantly high for a country where the birth certificate is a primary requirement for processing all paperwork and Government application processes. The first step to getting a birth certificate is registering the birth, but they have to handle the process correctly since it can get quite challenging to get through when done through the Registrar of Births and Deaths. According to a report by IndiaSpend, the largest number of Indians, who are older citizens to a greater extent, do not possess their birth certificates.
To work on a better eGovernance system, the Government had to improve the infrastructure so people could benefit from it in the long run. For starters, they have to create more awareness about eGovernance in rural India. 65% of the vast population of India is rural and the number keeps increasing every year, implying that the Government should focus on changes to benefit the group. Most of the unregistered births are from rural India and the same with other missing documentation processes. They should also create awareness about the importance of Government paperwork since most people do not see it as a necessity, so they avoid working on it. When they decide to handle it later, they cannot get the supporting documents and necessary paperwork needed.
To gather correct information and statistics, the Government needed to make sure they had the right information and details. They were pushing for the importance of getting their proper Government documentation, but the challenge was that a large part of the country was unsure
about the relevance of filling out and getting through the paperwork. Paperwork was not considered a massive requirement when dealing with people in the past, with many of them not having their documents. The system is changing, and birth registration is the most relevant task now needed for a child.
The Government coordinates various schemes according to the information collected to benefit those in need. Specific villages might have varying requirements, as compared to urban towns at other locations, and getting this information correct is very important, however, they all coordinate details through the central Government. Based on statistics and birth and death registration, the Government can accordingly release vaccines, medicines and other information to benefit the people of that place. Calculating the infant mortality rate, which is the number of deaths of children under one year per 1,000 live births, is done through the number of registered births in that location.
The infant mortality rate in the country is constantly fluctuating but moving in the right direction as compared to a decade ago. In 2019, the infant mortality rate in India was at about 28.3 deaths per 1,000 births. The numbers were an improvement from the past where they were at 29.6 deaths per 1,000 births. A study carried out in urban and rural India showed a large number of people in rural India who did not have their births registered. Between 15-20% of people in urban India do not have their births registered, while the number is significantly higher in rural India, at 35-40% in some parts of the country. These numbers vary according to different states with a few like Kerala among others showing more than 90% of their birth’s registered.