The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has again chosen Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to implement the second phase of the Passport Seva Program, the country’s largest mission critical e-governance programme till date. TCS will be managing the project for another nine-and-a-half years, which can be extended for two more years.
While the company did not disclose the financial details of the contract, analysts tracking the company said the deal could be in the range of Rs 6,000-8,000 crore.
“The issuance of e-passports for enhanced customer satisfaction, increased security and next level of citizen experience will also be unveiled,” the MEA said in a statement.
In the next phase of the programme, TCS will refresh existing facilities and systems, and develop new solutions to enable the issuance of e-passports using technologies such as biometrics, artificial intelligence, advanced data analytics, chatbots, auto-response, natural language processing, and the cloud.
“The first aspect of the contract is refresh. We started working with the MEA on this deal in 2008 and hence a tech refresh is needed. So all the infrastructure that we have created – data centers, servers etc – will get refreshed, which will be for a period of 18 months and the rest of the time will be running the project,” explained Tej Bhatla, business unit head, public sector, TCS. While Bhatla declined to comment on the size of the deal, he said this will be one of the largest deals for the company in the India geography.
It plans to set up a third data centre to store critical data after putting up a primary and secondary data centre as part of the first phase.
“The idea this time around is to reach as many citizens as possible. There is a provision to look at whether mobile vans can be introduced to take the service to citizens’ doorstep. One of those things will come in version 2.0,” added Bhatla.
The proposed e-passports will have chips embedded in them. “The MEA has stated its intent to move to e-passports. The plan is to introduce a chip in the passport booklet which can make data more secure, and it’ll make it easier to read as well. That’s part of the process going forward,” said Bhatla.
Launched in 2008, the Passport Seva Program saw TCS transforming the delivery of passport-related services, by digitising the processes, and setting global benchmarks in timeliness, transparency, and reliability.
Since then, TCS and MEA have set up 93 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs), 428 post office PSKs, and 36 passport offices. Some months back foreign missions and embassies were also integrated into the TCS system.
“We have about 86 million active passports in the country, but this is still a small percentage when compared with the population of the country. Hence, the government will continue to enhance the reach of the passport to citizens. For us, this is a big achievement, we celebrate 20-25 years of engagement with clients globally. Here is an opportunity for us to do the same in India with MEA as with this version 2.0 of the passport contract we will celebrate 20 years of the relationship,” added Bhatla.