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MEA Launched 'Boots On The Ground' An International Engagement Program With State Government

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has initiated a unique program which is focusing on the States. Engaging on the federalism, MEA aims to spread out the various initiatives under the broad canvas of foreign policy to State Government. Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (Economic Relations) launched such international engagement for States which he calls-- ‘BOOTS ON THE GROUND’.

Photo Credit : MEA


Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (Economic Relations), MEA

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has initiated a unique program which is focusing on the States. The initiative aims to connect the States and disseminate various initiatives that MEA undertakes.   

On such initiative, Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (Economic Relations) launched the week-long program to equip the States/UT officers in international engagement. In first response, 7 States, participated in a special training program at the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service. 

Secretary Chhabra (ER) explained the initiative of the States Division of MEA that it can put ‘BOOTS ON THE GROUND’ for States and UTs, through the network of Indian Missions and posts around the world.

Addressing the glaring gaps, the MEA In its Annual Report for 2015-16, recognized that the States have a critical role to play, particularly in the success of commercial and cultural diplomacy. On such recommendation, States Division was established. It aimed to bridge the gaps and play crucial role in helping them identify target countries and regions for commercial, cultural, academic, tourism and diaspora outreach.  

India in the subcontinent touches upon 5 international borders through its federal States and UTs. These frontiers are the first to respond whether in the moment of crisis or solidarity which is based on their historical linkages, trade and cultural ties spanning centuries. 'Boots On The Ground' will be crucial to link State Government in their engagements with international governments or people to people ties.

Importance of such engagement is vital for the State government to follow uniformity of international laws which MEA is responsible. Recent conflict at the Bihar-Nepal border raised such concern where Bihar government reached out in diffusing the crisis. The coastal border along Tamil Nadu often becomes the site of minor conflict where fishermen from both side crisscross each other. 

Secretary remarked that the initiative is to promote Team spirit, making States an integral part of Team India in engaging the world. According to the MEA, the initiative is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of promoting cooperative/competitive federalism. EAM S. Jaishankar has earlier commended the new initiative.

The specially designed training program encompasses topics such as India’s Foreign Policy, common areas of interest including Para-Diplomacy, connectivity issues: air, water & land, attracting foreign tourists to India, managing Covid pandemic - role of States & UTs : India’s success story, consular & diaspora issues, issues faced by foreign businesses in States & UTs and protocol matters- incoming & outgoing visits by foreign dignitaries.