Facing stiff criticism from the Opposition, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) reversed its decision to issue separate orange-coloured passports to citizens with Emigration Check Required (ECR), that is mostly required by less-skilled workers. Further, the practice of printing the last page of passports containing the vital details about the person concerned will also continue.
The last page of the passport contains "information such the name of the father, mother, spouse, address, Emigration Check Required (ECR) and old passport number, with date and place of issue of the holder of the passport."
“After comprehensive discussions with the various stakeholders, the MEA has decided to continue with the current practice of printing of the last page of the passport and not to issue a separate passport with orange colour jacket to ECR passport holders,” MEA said.
"The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and Minister of State for External Affairs, General (Retd) VK Singh," the release added.
“The MEA has received several individual and collective representations requesting to reconsider the decision. The decision of the MEA on both these issues was reviewed in the light of these representations,” it said.
This current announcement has reversed the earlier decision on January 12 in which the MEA had done away with printing of the last page of the passport that contains names of the parents of the passport applicant. At the same time, the MEA had also declared that the covers of the ECR category passports that cater to migrant workers from India would be in orange instead of the usual blue.
The decision to do away with the last page was taken following suggestions from an expert panel which aimed to make the passport more suitable for single parents, the MEA had clarified then.
The whole idea of printing of orange passports meant for migrant workers to the Gulf countries and few other South East Asian and African countries had drawn flak from the Opposition. Even the Opposition MPs were planning to raise the orange passport issue with the Vijay Gokhale, new Foreign Secretary.
D Raja of CPI said, “At the all-party meeting of Sunday, MPs from Kerala strongly raised the issue of orange passports as a discriminatory practice. Already passports are divided into two categories of ECR and non-ECR based on requirement for emigration check. There was no need to issue orange passports for migrant workers as it reflected discriminatory tendency of the government against our own people.”
Under the current dispensation of the Narendra Modi government, passports have been projected as a tool to bring the people of India into the centre of the MEA’s activities. Several new passport centres have been inaugurated under the drive to provide hassle free passport services to citizens.