With India’s global profile growing, and opening of more missions planned in Africa and Latin America, the federal government has expanded its budgetary outlay in fiscal year 2012-2013 for the external affairs ministry from about US$ 1.4 billion to about US$ 1.9 billion, an increase of 36%.
This amounts to an increase of about US$ 500 million over the previous financial year. The revised expenditure for 2011-12 has been estimated at US$ 1.56 billion.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee announced these and other proposals during his budget speech to Parliament in Delhi on March 16, 2012.
New missions planned
The outlay for embassies and missions has been hiked from US$ 261 million to US$ 305 million. This means more money would be made available for opening new missions as well as for better staffing at existing missions.
The ministry has been complaining of being severely understaffed in key missions with many missions in Africa and Latin America working with skeletal staff.
In Africa, India has missions in over 30 countries, with an Indian ambassador often accredited to more than three countries at times. Compared to that, China has about 50 missions in African countries.
India has 176 missions and posts abroad.
The manpower crunch (less than 700 diplomats spread across the headquarters in New Delhi, 119 resident missions and 49 consulates) has hobbled the ministry for a long time. Four years ago, the cabinet had approved 30 new posts in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) each year over the next decade.
In an article entitled “Developing India’s Foreign Policy Software,” American expert Daniel Markey said that the IFS is a right fit for a country like Malaysia, but surely not for a rising power like India.
Even a country like Brazil has 1197 diplomats. The US, the world’s sole superpower after the Cold War, tops the list with 19667 diplomats.
Germany has 3250 and the UK has 3600 diplomats, Markey said.
The expenditure for upgrading passport and emigration infrastructure has been increased from US$ 80 billion to US$ 116 billion.
In view of India’s growing stakes in neighbouring countries, the government has increased aid to Afghanistan from US$ 58 million to US$ 141 million. India has pledged US$2 billion for a slew of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.
Aid for Nepal has gone up from US$ 30 million to US$ 54 million. For Myanmar, there is a substantial increase from US$ 38 million US$ 60 million.
Aid to African countries has risen from US$ 30 million to US$ 50 million.