Nirupama Rao launches MEA website, says 'Web' is a tool of great empowerment

New Delhi, Dec 25 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao expressing her pleasure at the launch of the re-designed website of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the brand new Public Diplomacy (PD) Division website, said 'Web' is a tool of great empowerment, which has revolutionized the way in which information is collated, communicated and accessed.

Launching the websites here on Friday, Rao said: "The challenge of the hour, especially for governments, is to comprehend the power of internet and avail of the unprecedented opportunities it offers, while being alive to its limitations and vulnerabilities. That is the mandate I gave to XP and PD Divisions and that is what, in a small way, they have gone about doing."

"The MEA website needed a complete re-do, both in terms of its look and feel, as well as, content. Even though it is still work in progress, I am pleased that the new website, which was launched recently, has met those criteria to a large extent. It aims to make available comprehensive and speedy information, on India's foreign relation activities, as well as, Ministry's views on salient Foreign Policy issues," she added.

Nirupama Rao further said besides the media, academia, Indian and International Governmental agencies, businesses and travellers, the new website is also meant to be a resource for youth and students.

"Encouraged by the response, and I may mention that the website is currently receiving close to 300,000 hits daily, which is twice as much as the earlier website, we have started work on an more ambitious integrated MEA Portal. It is meant to introduce uniformity in the look, feel, content and navigational ease for all the websites of the Ministry and its Missions/Posts abroad," said Rao.

"An Inter-Ministerial Committee has been set up to oversee the development of the Portal. C-DAC has been appointed as consultants. Invitation to tender has already been issued and bids from web designers are expected to be received latest by January 5, 2011. We hope to launch the new Portal by the middle of next year," she added.

Talking about the PD website, Rao said: "Public Diplomacy Division was set up four years back with a mandate to project India and its foreign policy, both within India and overseas. This was in addition to traditional areas of work such as producing books and documentary films."

"I am happy to say that the PD website is the first GOI site to be based fully on a Web 2.0 platform. In addition, the Indian diplomacy account on Twitter, started in July 2010, was the first by a Government of India department and has already gathered over 3500 followers. It was followed in quick succession by a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and a Blogspot page - all under the 'Indian diplomacy' title," she added.

The Foreign Secretary also said that with a view to fostering a more informed discourse, the Ministry of External Affairs started 'Distinguished Lecture Series on India's Foreign Policy' by some of the finest retired ambassadors in February 2010.

"In our globalized world foreign policy issues, such as terrorism, climate change and civilian uses of nuclear energy are often intertwined with domestic ones. With a view to fostering a more informed discourse, we started the MEA Distinguished Lecture Series on India's Foreign Policy, this February, by some of our finest retired ambassadors. In the last 10 months, we have organized 22 lectures in universities and IIT campuses across India. The response has been truly outstanding," said Nirupama Rao.

"We have also organized seminars, workshops and conferences in places like Varanasi, Patna, Kolkata, Shillong and Kochi on foreign policy themes that are particularly relevant to those regions. The seminars in Varanasi and Patna, for instance, focused on Indo-Nepal relations. There is an organic relationship between Nepal and the governments and people of these states. A similar logic applied to our conference in Shillong on India's Look East policy. Sitting in Meghalaya, the view of our relationship with Bangladesh, Myanmar or even Thailand takes a dramatically different perspective," she added.

Speaking on occasion, Nirupama Rao said the PD Division has also expanded its in-coming visitors programme with a view to providing key decision-makers with a better understanding of India.

"Our guests this year are a fairly eclectic lot, including representatives of think tanks, ambassadors and permanent representatives of Pacific and Small Island States at the UN in New York, parliamentary delegations, film critics from the Asia-Pacific region, writers at a literature festival and even a group of journalists representing the Indian Diaspora in 16 separate countries," she added. (ANI)

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