New Delhi, March 16: With India’s global profile growing, and opening of more missions planned in Africa and Latin America, the government Friday hiked budgetary outlay for the external affairs ministry from Rs.7,106 crore (around $1.4 billion) to Rs.9,661.97 crore ($1.9 billion), an increase of 36 percent.
This amounts to an increase of Rs.2,555.97 crore (around $500 million) over the previous financial year.
The revised expenditure for 2011-12 has been estimated at Rs.7,836 crore ($1.56 billion).
The outlay for ‘embassies and missions’ has been hiked from Rs.1,364.08 crore ($261 million) to Rs.1,526.23 crore ($305 million). This means more money would be made available for opening of new missions as well as for better staffing of existing missions.
The ministry has been complaining of being severely understaffed in key missions with many missions in Africa and Latin America working with skeletal staff.
In Africa, India has missions in a little over 30 countries, with an Indian ambassador often accredited to more than two-three countries at times. Compared to that, China has around 50 missions in African countries.
The total number of functioning Indian missions and posts abroad is estimated at 176.
The manpower crunch – less than 700 diplomats spread across the headquarters in New Delhi, 119 resident missions and 49 consulates – has hobbled the ministry for a long time. Four years ago, the cabinet had approved 30 new posts in the IFS each year over the next decade.
In an article entitled “Developing India’s Foreign Policy Software”, Daniel Markey, an American expert, has said that the Indian Foreign Service is a right fit for a country like Malaysia, but surely not for a rising power. Even a country like Brazil has 1,197 diplomats. The US, the world’s sole superpower after the Cold War, tops the list with 19,667 diplomats. Germany has 3,250 and the UK has 3,600 diplomats, Markey noted
The expenditure for upgrading passport and emigration infrastructure has been increased from Rs.402.60 crore ($80 billion approx) to Rs.583.73 crore ($116 billion approx).
In view of India’s growing stakes in neighbouring countries, the government has hiked aid to Afghanistan from Rs.290 crore ($58 million) to Rs.707 crore ($141 million). India has pledged $2 billion for a slew of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.
Aid for Nepal has gone up from Rs.150 crore ($30 million) to Rs.270 crore ($54 million). For Myanmar, there is a substantial increase from Rs.190 crore ($38 million) billion to Rs.302.21 ($60 million) crore.
Aid to African countries has nearly doubled from Rs 150 crore ($30 million) to Rs 250 crore ($50 million).