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Orange colored passports introduced for ECR category

Context:

  • India’s Foreign Ministry issued new rules saying that citizens who require emigration checks will now carry orange passports, while those who don’t will carry blue ones.

What was the necessity of Orange colored passport?

  • India is the world’s largest exporter of migrant labor; 1 in 20 migrant workers worldwide are Indian-born
  • Many of those travelled to provide cheap, unskilled labor have faced severe exploitation.
  • In Qatar, more than 500 Indians died between 2012 and 2014.
  • Human rights groups said construction workers had been subjected to squalid living conditions and were working in intense heat and humidity.
  • To protect workers, now India requires unskilled migrants to get Emigration checked(ECR) before traveling to a number of countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Malaysia and Yemen.

What is Emigration Check Required (ECR) and Emigration Check Not Required (ECNR)?

ECR is Emigration Check Required.

  • If an Indian passport holder is not 10th standard pass, they require ECR.
  • It means they need special safe guards like proper and valid work permit/work visa/job agreement, etc., between their employer in foreign country where they want to go and them, which is to be ensured by an office called Protectorate of Emigrants(POE) in India, like that of the Passport office/Visa Consulate.

ECNR is Emigration Check Not Required.

  • If an Indian passport holder is a 10th standard pass, he/she is free to go to certain Gulf/ African or other poorer countries elsewhere to work and earn livelihood there on their own risk, means they do not require emigration check.

What are the changes introduced?

  • So far dark blue has been the color of all passports under the ECR and non-ECR categories.
  • Those who need emigration checks were identified on the last page of their passport
  • But now Passport holders with ECR (Emigration Check Required) status would be issued a passport with orange color passport jacket and those with non-ECR status would continue to get a blue passport
  • The new passport design would do away with the last page and instead use the colored covers to differentiate.
  • The people who have not passed 10th grade at school will be issued orange colored passport.
  • there is an option for switching from ECR to ECNR when they complete three years of staying abroad or pass matriculation after migrating.

How would differentiation help in fighting exploitation?

  • An orange cover shows a person is not well educated, and makes them vulnerable to exploitation.
  • These are already vulnerable people who need more protection.
  • It is expected that with an orange passport, ECR passport holders will stand out in difficult situations
  • Their passports will allow for quick processing of their documents.
  • It will prevent human trafficking and instances of agents bribing some officials to send ECR passport holders abroad without fulfilling the formalities.

What does the critics says about the initiative?

  • Critics are of the view that this move saying this will discriminate Indian citizens based on their economic and educational qualifications.
  • The discrimination of Indian citizens through the color of passports is against the provision of equal rights and justice envisioned in the Indian Constitution.
  • This initiative is going to give more business to people running recruitment rackets.
  • These passport holders will be more vulnerable for exploitation.

Conclusion:

  • The orange passport will come into circulation when the India Security Press, Nashik, is ready.
  • Till then, blue passports with the last page for both ECR and non-ECR categories will remain in circulation.

Basics and related terminologies

 

What is a passport?

  • A passportis a travel document.
  • It is usually issued by a country’s government.
  • It certifies the identity and nationalityof its holder primarily for the purpose of international travel.

What does a passport contain?

  • Standard passports may contain information such as the holder’s name, place and date of birth, photograph, signature, and other identifying information.
  • Many countries are moving towards including biometric information in a microchip embedded in the passport, making them machine-readable and difficult to counterfeit.

Why is a passport Necessary?

  • It is necessary if an individual wishes to travel to a foreign country as it serves as the only acceptable form of identification.
  • It can also be used as an identity document within the holder’s country or overseas.

Passport in India:

  • Indian Passport is issued by the Indian Government certify that holders are citizens of the Republic of India by birth or naturalization.
  • This is as per the Passports Act, 1967.
  • The CPV (Consular Passport & Visa) Division of the External Affairs Ministry works as central passport organization.
  • The issuance of passport happens across 37 different locations around the country.
  • There are 162 diplomatic missions abroad where Indian Passport is issued.
  • These include consulates, High Commissions and Embassies.

What is Consular, Passport and Visa Division (CPV)?

  • The Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India provides passport services through Central Passport Organization (CPO) and its network of Passport Offices; Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs); and Consular, Visa and Passport services to overseas Indians/Foreign nationals through the Indian Missions and Posts abroad.

Functions of Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) Division:

The functions of Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) Division are:

  • Issuance of Ordinary Indian Passports,
  • Establishment & Administration matters of the Central Passport Organization,
  • Issuance of Diplomatic & Official Passports,
  • Issuance of Indian Visas at our Missions abroad for foreign nationals,
  • Legalisation/Attestation of documents,
  • Registration of births & deaths Abroad,
  • Extradition Matters,
  • Consular Grievances, and
  • Processing of Visa requests from foreign Missions & Posts based in New Delhi for their Diplomats & Non‐diplomatic staff.

What are the different types of Passports in India?

  • There are 3 main types of passports issued by GOI under the Passport Act, 1967:
  • Type P / Ordinary passport– ‘P’ denotes ‘Personal’: These are Ordinary passports issued to ordinary individuals.
  • They are general purpose passports that citizens normally use for travel on holiday or business.
  • Type S / Official passport– ‘S’ denotes ‘Service’: These are Official passports issued to people travelling abroad on official government/state work.
  • Type D / Diplomatic passport– ‘D’ denotes ‘Diplomat’: These are Diplomatic passports issued to people who always travel on official government work including those posted abroad.
  • Along with this, some passport offices in overseas missions and India can issue regular Indo-Sri Lankan passports and Indo-Bangladesh passports to the Indian citizens residing in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, the North-Eastern states and West Bengal.
  • The Indo-Sri Lanka passport and the Indo-Bangladesh passport are only valid for traveling to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh respectively and they cannot be used for traveling to any other foreign country.

 

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