A major re-structuring of the Ministry of External Affairs has taken off in a big way making it to be one of the biggest administrative reforms since Independence.
According to sources, 'The plans include creating verticals in specific areas which will help in decentralising the Ministry of External Affairs. Areas which do not require diplomatic involvement in the consular section and other routine administrative affairs are expected to be separated from areas where diplomacy is involved. And these are areas like economics, energy, trade, development, technology, and cultural exchanges etc.'
The major revamp of the structure will change departments and reporting structure which will empower seven different Additional Secretaries who will focus on long term solutions rather than fire-fighting.
Soon after taking over office as the new Foreign Secretary, Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, earlier in the week sent out three orders – through the different verticals created are now going to be managed by the Additional Secretaries and these include cultural diplomacy which will be handled by Mr. Dinesh Patnaik; followed by the economic and trade coordination goes to Mr. P Harish; multinational organisations as well as global summits like the UN, G-20, BRICS etc, are now going to be managed by Mr. Vikram Doraiswami. The Development Partnership division will be going to Mr. Akhilesh Mishra, all of West Asia and Africa is under Ms. Nagma Mallick and Ms. Neena Malhotra will manage the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific region and all of Europe has been given to Mr. Suresh Reddy.
At part of its restructuring plans, the MEA is looking towards hiring experts from not only the private sector, but also from non-profit bodies as well. Until now, like all other ministries, the MEA has been a pyramid-like structure, with a lot of work pressure on Joint Secretaries and the four Secretaries.
The restructuring was carried out in consultation with the External Affairs Minister, Mr. S Jaishankar. Among other changes at the level of the secretary, Mr. Sanjay Bhattacharya, former Ambassador to Turkey who is currently Secretary, (Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs) Division, will also be in charge of the Gulf and West Asia/North Africa (WANA) divisions.
There are about eight million Indian expatriates living in the Gulf and WANA region and accounts for more than 60 per cent of India’s inbound remittances. Now, the 'External Publicity' (XP) the media and public relations division will work under Secretary (West), Mr. Vikas Swarup, who has earlier been the official spokesperson of the MEA.
The Joint Secretary, Mr. Gopal Baglay, who is moving to Colombo as India’s High Commissioner will be replaced by 1999 batch Indian Foreign Service, Mr. Rudra Gaurav Shresth as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Prime Minister’s Office.