Ministry of External Affairs
Branch of Government of India
Ministry of External Affairs

South Block, Secretariat Building, New Delhi
Ministry overview
Formed2 September 1946
JurisdictionGovernment of India
HeadquartersSouth Block, Secretariat Building, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, Delhi, India
Employees4,888 (March 2023)
IFS (A):1,011[1]
Annual budget18,050 crore (US$2.3 billion) (2023–24 est.)[2]
Minister responsible
Deputy Ministers responsible
Ministry executives
Websitemea.gov.in

The Ministry of External Affairs (abbreviated as MEA; ISO: Videś Mantrālay) of India is the government agency responsible for implementing Indian foreign policy. The Ministry of External Affairs is headed by the Minister of External Affairs, a Cabinet Minister. The Foreign Secretary, an Indian Foreign Service officer, is the most senior civil servant who is the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry represents the Government of India through embassies and is also responsible for India's representation at the United Nations and other international organizations and expanding and safeguarding India's influence and Indian interests across the world by providing developmental aid to other countries worth billions of dollars.[4] It also advises other Ministries and State Governments on foreign governments and institutions.

Committee on External Affairs is tasked with this ministry's legislative oversight.

History

The Ministry was initially the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations, a holdover from the British Raj. It was renamed the Ministry of External Affairs in 1948.[5] Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru held the portfolio as an additional charge till his death in 1964 and it was only then that a separate Minister with Cabinet rank was appointed. The ministry is responsible for the administration of Naga Hills, Tuensang Area, Indian Emigration Act of 1923, the Reciprocity Act of 1943, the Port Haj Committee Act of 1932, the Indian Merchant Shipping Act in so far as it relates to pilgrim ships, the Indian Pilgrim Shipping Rules of 1933, the Protection of Pilgrims Act of 1887 (Bombay) and the Protection of the Mohammedan Pilgrims Act of 1896 (Bengal).

The Ministry was integrated with Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs on 7 January 2016.[6] The government said that the decision was taken in line with government's "overall objective of minimizing government and maximizing governance" and that it will help the government address duplication as well as unnecessary delays.[7]

The Ministry is the cadre-controlling authority of the Indian Foreign Service; the service is wholly under the administration and supervision of the External Affairs Ministry.

Organizational structure

The Ministry of External Affairs is headed by the Minister of External Affairs (or simply, the Foreign Minister; in Hindi: Videsh Mantri).The Foreign Secretary is the most senior civil servant who is the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs,[8] and is supported by other secretary level officers.

Development Partnership Administration

Development Partnership Administration (DPA) is an agency under the Ministry of External Affairs formed in 2013 to increase its strategic footprint and for the effective execution of projects with professionals from diverse backgrounds. India has an elaborate project portfolio in its neighbourhood, including Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, as well as Africa and Latin America. It is headed by Sujata Mehta, one of India's foremost diplomats and former Indian representative to the UN Conference on Disarmament, Geneva. Mehta is Special Secretary in the MEA.[12][13] According to OECD estimates, 2019 official development assistance from India increased to US$1.6 billion.[14]

India Perspectives

India Perspectives[15] is the flagship publication of the Ministry of External Affairs. A bi-monthly magazine, it is digitally published in English and Hindi, and 14 other international languages, with a readership spanning 170 countries. It is crafted to support the Ministry's diplomatic initiatives and highlight India's bilateral ties with the rest of the world.

The magazine provides an insight into India's culture and tradition along with elements of contemporary India. With intelligent, analytical and verified editorial content, the publication is one of the most authentic sources of information regarding India's ‘soft diplomacy’ initiatives as well as its rich cultural, scientific and political heritage. By showcasing the country's various facets through original stories on travel, art, music, cinema and more, the magazine takes India to the world.

Location

The office of the Ministry is located in the South Block building which also contains the Prime Minister's office and Ministry of Defence. Other offices are located in Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, Shastri Bhawan, Patiala House, and ISIL Building.[16]

Parliamentary Standing Committee

Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs is mandated with the task of the legislative oversight of the Ministry of External Affairs.[17]

Under Strength

In March 2023, the committee in its Demand for Grants (2023–24) report, criticized the ministry for being "most short-staffed" and under-budgeted. The committee highlighted that The total strength of 4,888 is distributed across different cadres of the Ministry such as the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), IFS General Cadre, IFS Group B, Stenographers Cadre, Interpreters Cadre, Legal and Treaties Cadre, among others. The cadre strength of Indian Foreign Service Officers is only 1,011, just 22.5 percent of the total strength. Out of IFS 'A' cadre, 667 are posted at the Missions abroad and 334 are manning the headquarters in Delhi, which currently has 57 divisions.[18] The committee also highlighted that the ministry “remains one amongst the least funded central ministries” as its actual annual spending has been around 0.4% of the total budgetary allocation of the government since 2020–21.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Parliamentary panel for ramping up manpower and funding for MEA". Hindustan Times. 21 March 2023. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  2. ^ "Union budget allocates over Rs 18,000 cr for external affairs ministry, Rs 7,149 cr for foreign aid". ANI News. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  3. ^ "MEA | About MEA : Profiles : Secretary (ER)".
  4. ^ "Six Charts to Make Sense of India's Budget for Foreign Policy".
  5. ^ "REPORT OF THE Ministry of External Affairs 1949-50" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  6. ^ Sushma Swaraj [@SushmaSwaraj] (7 January 2016). "Hon'ble Prime Minister has kindly accepted my proposal. So MOIA will now be part of Ministry of External Affairs" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ "Government to merge overseas Indian affairs ministry with MEA - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Organogram of the Ministry of External Affairs" (PDF). Ministry of External Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Secretaries, Ministry of External Affairs". Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Dammu Ravi (IFS) appointed as Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA". psuwatch.com. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Muktesh Pardeshi Appointed As Secretary Of Consular, Passport Visa Division And Overseas Indian Affairs | Newsmobile". newsmobile.in. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  12. ^ "Devyani likely to head MEA's overseas projects department". The Indian Express. 20 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Organogram of Ministry of External Affairs" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  14. ^ "India | Development Co-operation Profiles – India | OECD iLibrary".
  15. ^ India Perspectives homepage
  16. ^ About MEA : South Block. MEA (2014-03-19). Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  17. ^ "Committee on External Affairs : Loksabha". loksabhaph.nic.in. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  18. ^ "'Indian diplomatic service most short-staffed compared to many other countries': Parliamentary panel". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 8 April 2023.