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Blue, white, maroon, and now orange: new coloured passports explained

On the new coloured passport for the ECR category


What is an ‘orange’ passport?

Citizens who fall under the Emigration Check Required (ECR) category will soon have passports with orange jackets, instead of the dark blue that has so far been the colour of all passports under the ECR and non-ECR categories. ECR passports are mainly given to non-matriculate workers who wish to work in the Gulf countries and in Southeast Asia.

Why has this been introduced now?

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been taking measures to improve passport services over the last decade. The previous government prioritised quick passport delivery. The present government, apart from opening new passport centres, is streamlining the process for passport application and delivery. The MEA was also wondering how to make passports more gender-just, especially after a few cases of single mothers applying for their children’s passports came to the Ministry (the address on the last page includes the father’s/ legal guardian’s name). The MEA has done away with the last page to be printed in “due course”. It was while initiating a change in passports that the decision to introduce orange passports for the ECR category was taken.

What is different about the ECR category?

Passport holders under the ECR category have faced exploitation, especially in West Asia. Protecting their human rights has become a priority, as the government is reaching out to diaspora Indians and Indians working abroad. ECR passport holders are being serviced by the Protector General of Emigrants so that their human rights are safeguarded abroad. It is expected that with an orange passport, ECR passport holders will stand out in difficult situations and their passports will allow for quick processing of their documents. However, critics say this could render migrant workers “second-class citizens”.

When will the new passports be printed?

When the India Security Press, Nashik, is ready. Till then, blue passports with the last page for both ECR and non-ECR categories will remain in circulation.

Apart from blue and orange, what other colours of passports exist?

White for government officials and maroon for diplomats.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 6:44:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/blue-white-maroon-and-now-orange/article22458064.ece

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