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Ministry launched its smart phone application 'MEAIndia' on July 29, 2013

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Foreign Secretary's Speech at the launch of MEA's Smart Phone Mobile App 'MEAIndia' - When I joined the Foreign Service in 1974 conventional wisdom had it that diplomats were not meant to be seen or heard in public. In fact most of us in Government believed in the ideal of the faceless bureaucrats. The only real mass media were print and radio. Some engaged with the print media but quietly and in a detached manner. But overall, we were required to be little visible and encouraged to work in anonymity except through structured engagements. As this function demonstrates all this has now changed.

Communication has become essential to management. The requirements of communications have changed and evolved and so have we in the Ministry of External Affairs. We have adapted and adopted to these new demands of technology and means of communications. 

Over the last two years, we have changed our appearance in multiple ways. Take for example, our website. Since last year it now has a new look. It attracts more than three times the visitors than the old version did. We are on a course to get a million visitors in the first year of this new website. This is in fact four times the annual numbers who visited our earlier website in the last year it functioned. 

Our Common Digital Identity is falling in place. All Indian Missions are adopting similar templates. So if you look at MEA Website and that of our Missions say in Tokyo (Japan) or Cairo (Egypt) or London (UK) or Caracas (Venezuela), they now have common templates even though they are on different continents. There was some scepticism over the suitability of this scheme when plans were laid down for it in my office just under two years ago. It is still a work in progress. But fifty of our Embassies have adopted this new template and made the transition to our common new digital identity. Come 2014, we hope that websites of our Missions will be instantly recognizable as they will have a common digital identity. 

The launch earlier today of the Smart Phone App is one more step of integrating our public platforms. As was explained, all our public services can now be accessed through this one simple means. Whether it be information on passport status applied anywhere in India or location of centres which attest documents in India, or pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for Haj, this "One stop shop” will provide you all you need to know. 

As delivery mechanism for dissemination of information has changed, we too have expanded our presence across a variety of new media platforms. As new media has narrowed the differences between traditional media and social media we too have adjusted. Today, if we take the number of people who follow MEA, our Missions abroad, our senior officials across the various social media platforms, the total will exceed more than a million. A number similar to that of visitors to our web sites. 

We have also reached out across the county to different language media. Of necessity since English is the language that India conducts its diplomacy in, focus on English as a means of public communication remains. Of course, we also have a website which provides all of this information in Hindi too. In addition, due to the growing interest of a large number of language media in India in issues relating to foreign policy, we are now reaching out to our countrymen in Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil and Urdu too. I understand that press releases in Assamese and Telugu too are soon to be initiated. I would not be wrong if I acknowledge that the language media in India has been a growth area for coverage of foreign policy issues, reflecting yet another change that we have factored in. 

We are also poised to take the audio route and have agreed with Prasar Bharati to tie up for a regular programme on FM Radio of India’s foreign relations.

The idea behind encapsulating all these changes to you today is indicate that we are making every effort in communicating India’s foreign policy and the sense of our timing to the public at large. 

I also take this opportunity to thank all those who have been involved in enabling us to move ahead on issues related to the media during the last two years and more specifically in this venture. As the landscape has expanded we have tried to adjust and adapt. The help we have received from all of you has been crucial in this. Thank you