Sushma Swaraj announces MEA-MOIA merger
Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced the merger of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs today (MOIA), after her proposal for a merger was accepted by PM Narendra Modi. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that keeping in mind the needs of the Indian diaspora, the merger had already begun under the personal supervision of Sushma Swaraj.
The Ministry of External Affairs
In 1948, the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations, a holdover from the British government, was renamed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Also known as the Foreign Ministry, the ministry is responsible for India's representation in the United Nations and for the conduct of India's relations with foreign countries. It is currently headed by Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs
Established in May 2004, and initially known as the Ministry of Non-Resident Indians' Affairs, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) was given its current name in September 2004. The MOIA was established to connect the Indian diaspora community with its motherland. The ministry provides information, facilitations and partnerships for all matters related to overseas Indians (Persons of Indian origin and Non-Resident Indians).
Why the sudden merger of the two ministries?
Since MOIA's creation in 2004, there had been two separate ministers for the two separate ministries. However, since 2014, Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for External Affairs Dr.V.K. Singh were handling both ministries. According to MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, most of MOIA work had to be done by Indian missions abroad, which are under the MEA, and hence the division was "unnatural".
What are the implications of this merger?
According to MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, the merger between the MEA and the MOIA will see a reduction in duplication of work and unnecessary delays in various tasks. Swarup furthermore added that the merger was another step towards the Modi government's "overall objective of minimising government and maximising governance". This was a major promise made by the BJP before 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
What happens to the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas?
Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, a flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, is set to be celebrated by the Ministry of External Affairs on 9 January 2016 as a result of the merger between the two ministries.