The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has earned a reputation of being a sensitive and active minister who is always there to help people in need, even if she is recuperating in AIIMS after her kidney transplant. She is one of the very few ministers in the Government of India who leverages the power of social media to make things go for the needy and has mobilized hopes among those millions who feel harassed and stuck in a labyrinthine administrative machinery to get things done, like getting a passport in India.

Though the government is trying to make the process easier and has introduced many steps including use of online platforms, issues do crop up where we feel that why it is still dragging there and when would we get over such illogical requirements like making it mandatory for women to prove their identity through their husbands’ or parents’ supportive documents even if they have Aadhaar cards or asking differently-abled people to be present in person at a passport office even if they are 90 percent disabled.

Heart-wrenching appeal of parents of two disabled daughters, one with 90 percent and other with 72 percent, thankfully got a serious listener in Sushma Swaraj who acted promptly, like she has done in so many other cases.

Subbalakshmi (70) and RS Rallapalli (75), parents of R. Sarvani who has 90% disability and R. Gayathridevi who has 72% disability, made an appeal to Sushma Swaraj for passports of their daughters. They wrote that they have been taking care of their daughters for the past 40 years but as age is not on their side, they need to make arrangements for their daughters to be sent to their sons living in the US and Canada once they cannot.

Subbalakshmi and RS Rallapalli wrote in their appeal, published on and so far signed by over 46,000 people, that they have not been able to apply for passports due to their daughters’ ‘severe physical disabilities’ due to which they cannot take a bus or train to the nearest passport centre that is 110 kms away from their house. And their old age doesn’t allow them to help their daughters travel either. They also uploaded Sarvani’s disability certificate.

Yesterday Sushma had acknowledged the petition asking for the parents’ contact details and today she assured them that their problem has been taken care of and the passports of their daughters will reach their home.

I have gone through your Petition. We will definitely help you. Please give me your address and Phone nos. @CPVIndia
7:36 PM – 23 Jan 2017

Your daughters do not have to go anywhere. The Passports will reach your house today.
6:55 PM – 24 Jan 2017

Responding to Sushma’s gesture, Mr. Rallapalli wrote, “Sushmaji’s immediate and prompt action restores our faith in good governance and I’m really happy that our ministers are helping people”. Thanking everyone who signed the petition, he said that they were overjoyed and deeply grateful for the intervention and the process to issue the passports of their daughters had already begun.



As of now, while writing this – on September 18, 2014

Owing to the checkered history of India-China bilateral ties, there have been very few state-level visits. Now with initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, there is a sense of optimism that the process to set the relation back of track can begin now. While searching for information in the context of Xi’s visit to India from the concerned government platform, the Ministry of External Affairs, I came across this interesting anomaly.

The link has sub-links to ‘the Briefs on India’s Bilateral Relations’. Clicking on each country’s name opens a PDF file with a primer on information pertaining to the bilateral relations between India and that particular country. The format usually categorizes information in sections like Political Relations, Visits of Heads of States/Heads of Governments, Other High Level Visits, Major Dialogue Mechanisms, Commercial and Economic Relations, Defence Relations, Cultural Relations and Education Relations.

The information packets hosted here, being on the official gateway of India’s foreign relations, are expected to reflect every major milestone in the bilateral relations, and need to be updated scrupulously.

With this thought in mind, I clicked the sub-link to the file on China. And the sub-link indeed had a good file with neatly packed information to serve as a useful primer. And the link told me it was updated this month only (China_September_2014). But while going through it, I came across a serious flaw.

I thought it would be rectified soon as the Chinese President was come calling on Wednesday and China-related information on official platforms would be looked into and updated. But it wasn’t. I visited the link and the file on September 15, on September 16, on September 17, and today, on September 18. But the missing information has not been updated in this basic file and Mr. Xi Jinping is leaving tomorrow.

Here are the screen shots of the file that I captured yesterday (and which don’t show the expected changes yet).



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