Minority Affairs Ministry takes charge of Haj pilgrimage

  1. Context: President’s assent to amendments to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961
  2. Haj management: Transfer of management of Haj Pilgrimage, including administration of the Haj Committee Act, 1959, to the Minorities Affairs Ministry
  3. Earlier: The Ministry of External Affairs has dealt with the Haj pilgrimage and other aspects of the Act so far
  4. However, MEA would still continue to oversee other pilgrimages to places outside India under the Indian Pilgrimships Rules, 1933, and pilgrim parties from India to shrines in Pakistan and vice versa

India makes list, plans outreach to 68 countries

  1. Context: Govt’s commitment to reach out to all countries worldwide
  2. Ministry of External Affairs has issued letters to various Ministers assigning them dozens of specific countries to engage with
  3. It has identified 68 countries which had not witnessed Ministerial-level visits from India
  4. Govt: By 2016-end, we will not leave any country where Indian Ministers have not gone

India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement

  1. News: Cabinet has given its approval for India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement
  2. About: International transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf
  3. Why? India’s intention to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement would now be conveyed to the Depository State (Turkmenistan)
  4. India would become party to the Agreement upon consent of the founding members
  5. Benefits: Accession to Agreement would enable India to utilise this existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade interaction with Eurasian region
  6. This would synchronise with efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity

What is Ashgabat Agreement?

  1. About Ashgabat: Capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan in Central Asia
  2. Where? Situated between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range
  3. About Agreement: aims to develop a shortest trade route between Central Asian countries and Iranian and Omani ports
  4. Initially signed among Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Oman and Qatar back in April 2011 and was given additional support in 2014 when a MoU was signed
  5. Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan (ITK) railway line will be the major route according to the Ashgabat Agreement, which became operational in 2014
  6. This was also included as part of India-funded North-South international transport corridor (NSITC)

MEA protests after being asked to curb foreign travel

  1. News: Memorandum issued Finance Ministry, stipulating new instructions for foreign travel
  2. This has spurred a protest “go-slow” from the MEA on all political clearances for officers travelling abroad
  3. Context: Finance Ministry officials say the memorandum is part of a bi-annual cost-cutting exercise to restrict foreign travel as much as possible
  4. Concern from MEA: First time, PM’s clearance needed for more than 4 visits by Secretaries in 1 yr, which will add to the red tape and cause delays
  5. Non-officials can only travel with PM’s clearance, not at MEA’s discretion

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and important announcements

  1. Giving Adhaar cards to NRIs and OCIs is under consideration.
  2. Women workers will be allowed to go to Gulf countries for employment only through government agencies.
  3. This is to ensure they are not duped by recruiting agents.
  4. PBD is held on 9th January as on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the “greatest Pravasi”, returned home from South Africa to lead India’s freedom struggle.

Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry, MEA merged

In order to avoid duplication of work and to improve efficiency, the government merged the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) with the Ministry of External Affairs.

  1. As senior diplomats wanted officials dealing with foreign workers-related issues and emergencies to have better diplomatic back-up and coordination.
  2. The merger is expected to increase efficiency in MEA’s emergency work abroad.
  3. MEA wanted the key operational posts, including that of the Protector General of Emigrants, one of the most important offices in MOIA, to have diplomatic focus.
  4. The post is responsible for issuing registration certificates to recruitment agents who send workers abroad, especially to the Gulf region.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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