Nearly 12 years after it was set up to improve engagement with the Indian diaspora, the government has decided to merge the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) with the External Affairs Ministry in sync with its broad principle of minimum government, maximum governance.
The proposal for merger was cleared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who also holds charge of the MOIA said.
“As Minister for External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs, I realised that substantial work of MOIA is done through our missions abroad. Therefore, I proposed to Prime Minister that MOIA should be merged with Ministry of External Affairs.
“Prime Minister has kindly accepted my proposal. So MOIA will now be part of Ministry of External Affairs,” Swaraj tweeted.
Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said the decision to merge the MOIA with MEA was taken in line with government’s “overall objective of minimising government and maximising governance”.
He said the process of merger has already begun and the exercise is being personally supervised by Swaraj while keeping in mind the needs of the diaspora. He said the decision will help government address duplication as well as unnecessary delays in various works.
Ensuring “minimum government, maximum governance” was a major promise of the BJP in the run up to the Lok sabha polls in 2014.
Swarup said the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, which used to be a flagship event of the MOIA will be celebrated by the MEA on January 9.
Since creation of MOIA in 2004, there have been two separate ministers in charge of the two ministries. However, since 2014 Swaraj and Minister of State in MEA V K Singh were handling both the ministries, said Swarup.
Established in May 2004 as the Ministry of Non-Resident Indians’ Affairs, it was renamed as the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in September 2004.
The primary task of the MOIA was to connect the Indian diaspora with its motherland.
The Ministry initiated various programmes focusing on developing networks with and amongst the overseas Indians with the intent of building partnership with the diaspora.