India expects app to raise passport applications by 15 percent

Despite an online application function already available, an app to make it easier to apply for a passport over smartphones has been launched. How much more benefit does this bring?
Written by Nitin Puri, Contributor

With the introduction of the mPassport Seva App, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, expects to boost the number of passports it issues to 850,000 passports in 2013, compared to 740,000 passports issued last year.

The app provides both smartphone and tablet users with a variety of services including passport application status, and general information, according to The Times of India. Launched in March and available on the Google Android platform.

Having the ability to apply for an Indian passport through your smartphone is just another great step forward, especially for those in rural India who live far away from government offices. Furthermore, this will allow more Indians to obtain a passport with ease, as the traditional method of applying and then booking a appointment is clearly outdated.

Is an app necessary?


However, it should also be noted that there already exists an online Indian passport Web site and application form. So does creating a mobile app version of the same process really benefit Indian citizens?

In my opinion, yes, for the simple reason that there are more people connected on smartphones in comparison to desktops or laptops in India. As there is a higher smart phone penetration within India, in turn, this should lure more people to apply online, using an app, instead of the existing online passport website and application form. Also, some may find it simply easier and intuitive to apply online using the mobile app solution instead, especially if they aren’t aware of the existing online passport Web site and application form to begin with. I wasn't aware either existed until recently myself. 

Furthermore, in the past few years, air travel has become more affordable for Indians, as there are many budget tours and packages available for neighboring Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. In addition to business and travel, more Indian students are opting to study abroad in countries such as Australia, Canada, and the U.K., and as such, a valid Indian passport is required.

In the past, it was the norm to only obtain an Indian passport if one had the intent to travel abroad, and even then, documentation was usually required at time of application to show either the intent of travel and in some cases, even a fully purchased airline ticket. Clearly, this was a risk taken as in some cases, passports would not be issued in time in order to travel, and money would be lost on the airfare.

Now, the scenario has changed where the process has been streamlined and Indian government is encouraging Indian citizens to obtain an Indian passport well in advance of their travels. Of course, the other side of the equation is that even if Indian citizens are not travelling abroad in the near future, at least the government gets to boost its coffers by issuing a passport. 

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