MEA goes interactive with new smartphone app
By Express News Service | Published: 30th July 2013 08:38 AM |
If you suddenly find your passport stolen and need to find the nearest Indian mission, don’t panic. Your smartphone can find you the way. Not just that. If you want to ask a question on a hot foreign policy topic, you can straight away pose the query to the Union External Affairs Minister.
These are among the slew of services that the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has included in its newly unveiled integrated smartphone application ‘MEAIndia’, which is downloadable through the ‘ITunes’ app store and ‘Google Play’. According to MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, this was the first integrated mobile app developed by a Government of India Ministry. Although a few Foreign Ministries of other countries also had apps, this was the first time that an application had integrated the Foreign Office headquarters and over 100 diplomatic posts. In fact, at a function to launch the mobile app, Akbaruddin noted that there had been qualms in the beginning about developing such an app within South Block, due to its pioneering concept. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who launched the app on Monday evening, reminisced that when he joined the IFS in 1974 “diplomats were not meant to be seen or heard in public”.
But 39 years on, the landscape has changed. Over the last two years, he pointed out that the MEA had been improving its presence on the digital space -- foraying into the social media, changing its website and introducing a uniform web template for all missions. There is also an active outreach to the language media, said Mathai, which will soon be followed by a regular programme on FM radio on India’s foreign policy.
Interestingly, this app was a joint collaboration of two software professionals and a young IFS officer. Akbaruddin noted that as a reflection of the talent of young India, the MEA wanted to entrust the job of building the app to people below the age of 35 and it proved successful. To encourage the users, there are quizzes on foreign policy, which have e-vouchers as prizes. Further, users can also quiz External Affairs Minister Salman Khursid on a foreign policy topic through the app. Two questions will be chosen on a frequent basis, based on their popularity, which will be answered personally by Khurshid. Prospective pilgrims for Kailash Mansarovar yatra and Haj will also be able to find the status of their application as well other information directly using the app.