Staff Reporter –
If you have a grievance over any issue that relates to the federal government in India, just tweet; and you will get help almost instantly.
From a distressed Indian in the United States of America wanting urgent consular service to a student who felt that he was being exploited, Sushma Swaraj, the ebullient Minister of External Affairs and Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs looks at every message that appears on her Twitter account and sets herself and her ministries into action.
Her ability to reach out to her ministerial colleagues as a response to messages that do not even relate to her work space has earned her accolades
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also an ardent user of Twitter lauded the work of Ms Swaraj during his speech to the delegates attending the 14th Edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru on January 8, 2017.
“Our External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has particularly been proactive and prompt in reaching out to distressed Indians abroad using social media,” he said.
Seated in her South Block office in New Delhi, Ms Swaraj oversees two extremely busy ministries, both involving international relations, diplomacy and her people. Her penchant to become more accessible, accountable and responsible encouraged her to launch a portal called, ‘Madad’ (Help) last year at her ministry precincts.
“The portal seeks to significantly reform the linear process adopted to post grievances from the originator of the grievance to the concerned Embassy or Consulate of India abroad and cut down the time required for grievances to be sent from Delhi to our Missions abroad and to get them to take necessary action,” she said.
Among the chief characteristics of ‘Madad’ are to speed up forwarding and handling of complaints, improve tracking and redressal and escalate unresolved cases.
“After registering, the complainant can log in and file his or her complaints, and the entire history of that grievance would be maintained online. The authorities would be assigned responsibility through a colour-coded dashboard that would change colour if the response in not given in a stipulated time,” she said.
Swaraj said such that healthy intra-department competition would act as a deterrent for officials to not let work slide and that they would therefore respond with greater accountability now, which would ultimately benefit people.
The colour code system will follow red-amber-green pattern; missions performing well in redressing grievances would be in ‘green,’ while those keeping inordinately pending cases would show as ‘red.’
“Also, when the colour code changes, it will escalate the case to higher authorities and the entire history can later be accessed by the complainant in a summary or detailed format,” Ms Swaraj added.
All the stakeholders, in this consular grievance monitoring, are tightly linked to the portal, including Missions and Posts abroad and the ministry’s Branch Secretariats in Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
“The plan is also to have a call centre linked to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. Besides, we are also currently working on a mobile application to let people use the system on the go,” she said.