New Delhi: As part of its public outreach, India's Ministry of External Affairs Tuesday held its first question and answer session on Facebook with its spokesperson being flooded with questions from across the world during the 45-minute session, including requests to help out Indians in a Maldives jail.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, who has 257,000 followers on Twitter and regularly updates the social media platform with posts on any new diplomatic event, received around 30 questions. The 45-minute session reached 112,192 Facebook users, with 4,655 likes, comments and shares.
From answering questions on India's stand on Palestine, to stating that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is to undertake a "SAARC Yatra" to all South Asian countries, including Pakistan, in March, the spokesperson also informed participants of the ministry's new Grievances Monitoring System (MADAD) to tackle grievances pertaining to consular Services offered by Indian missions/posts abroad.
A question on China's protest on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, got the answer: "As you all know, the state of Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. The people of Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India. Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time, as they visit other parts of India."
To a query whether India was willing to discuss Kashmir with Pakistan, the answer was: "We stand ready to talk with Pakistan in accordance with the Simla Agreement on all issues including Jammu & Kashmir."
On how India would go about is membership at the UN Security Council, Akbaruddin answered: "The UN Security Council Reform process is being discussed at the UN General Assembly. We are hoping for a framework to be agreed upon. Once this is done, individual countries will be able to vote for candidates, including India, for permanent membership."
To a query whether there was a proposal to increase the strength of diplomats, he wrote: "There are nearly 2,000 Indian diplomats. This of course is still not enough. We have increased our annual intake to the Indian Foreign Service. When I joined in 1985, the annual intake was only 12. Now, in 2014, it is 35. This is a nearly 300 percent increase."
However, there were several requests for help from the ministry for some Indians jailed in the Maldives for some alleged crimes, which did not elicit an answer.