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Facing criticism, govt. backs down on orange passports

The Opposition had criticised the move as discriminatory

Weeks after announcing that Indian migrant labourers would be issued orange-coloured passports instead of the usual blue, the government on Tuesday backed down after sharp criticism, especially from the Opposition.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the decision to continue with the current blue passports for all general sections was taken after “comprehensive discussions.”

“After comprehensive discussions with the various stakeholders, the MEA has decided to continue the current practice of printing of the last page of the passport, and not to issue a separate passport with orange colour jacket to ECR (Emigration Check Required) passport holders,” a release from the Ministry said.

Sushma chairs meeting

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh (retd.), the release added.

The announcement reversed the January 12 decision, in which the MEA had done away with printing of the last page of the passport that contains the names of the parents of the passport applicant. At the same time, the MEA also declared that the covers of the ECR category passports, catering to migrant workers from India, would be in orange instead of the usual blue.

The decision to do away with the last page was taken following suggestions from an expert panel to make passports more suitable for single parents, the MEA had clarified then. However, the idea of orange jackets for ECR passports, meant for migrant workers to the Gulf countries and a few other southeast Asian countries had drawn criticism from the Opposition.

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