India-Passport-wThe Ministry of External Affairs is all set to launch a smartphone app to make  passport services, Hajj and visa/ consular services more accessible to Indians.

The app will support both smartphones and tablets and will be available for Android and iOS devices reports The Times of India.

Ministry officials told ToI that the project was intended to be a single-window resource to connect media, students, scholars, diplomats, travelers and the average citizen who wants information or assistance from the ministry of external affairs.

The ministry already has a very active presence on social media with daily posts both on Twitter and Facebook. A number of ministers like Shashi Tharoor, P Chidambaram and Milind Deora have also help Google+ Hangouts in an effort to connect with citizens.

The app is expected to provide various features including the ability to ask questions to the external affairs minister, guidelines for passport services which would include how to apply, the documentation required, payments for services etc. The app will also be able to tell users which is the nearest Passport Office using Google Maps.

The app will also have various services for Hajj pilgrims and will have details of which flight they are on, where they would be staying in Saudi Arabia etc provided by the government’s Hajj committee.

The app will also help travelers to India with visa guidelines and types of visa services.  Indians going to the Middle East for work will get immediate help regarding the nearest attestation offices for apostille requirements etc.

Looking at the proposed set of features it definitely looks like the MEA is taking this initiative seriously and we hope the app is as functional as planned. We hope these are native apps and not wrapped versions of the mobile website.

Passport applicants have been complaining for long about the difficulty in getting an appointment at the Passport Office. We hope the app does its bit to make this easier.

The Indian government already has an app store for m-governance apps which is still quite underwhelming even after being out for more than six months.