Muscat: In a move to ensure better service delivery to Indians residing in Oman, the Indian embassy in Muscat has extended its 'Open House' facilities, the Indian ambassador to the Sultanate J. S. Mukul said while delivering the Independence Day speech last Friday.
"The 'Open House' at the embassy, so far held once a month, will now onwards be held on all working days between 10 am till 12 noon and members of the Indian community resident in Oman can avail of the facility," Mukul said.
'Open House' is an informal meeting held once a month at the embassy where officials from different wings, including the ambassador and a panel of lawyers, are present to listen to the Indians' consular and community welfare issues in Oman.
"The extension of 'Open House' facilities will help the Indian community a lot. Those who have problems will no more have to wait till the third Friday of every month to meet the embassy officials to resolve these. Now, they can step into the embassy on any working day. We, including the ambassador, will be ready to resolve their issues," an official from the embassy said.
"However, at present, we have not yet decided to discontinue the third Friday 'Open House'," the embassy official added.
According to the embassy official, the decision to organise 'Open House' on every working day was taken at a meeting between embassy officials from the region and the ministry of external affairs officials in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, the move has evoked a mixed response from among the Indian community social workers. "Extending the facilities is a welcome move. But, we have to wait and see how much helpful it will be for the aggrieved Indians. Now, a full quorum 'Open House' will be missed. Absence of lawyers and experienced community welfare officials at the daily 'Open House' will be a setback. We hope the embassy will not discontinue the third Friday 'Open House'," Shaji Sebastin, a Muscat-based social worker who has been regularly attending the 'Open House' since its beginning, said.
However, one of the lawyers in the embassy panel said that the mission office has not yet updated them in this regard.
"We will not be able to attend the daily 'Open House'. It is quite unworkable. So, we will be attending the weekly legal cell meeting and the third Friday 'Open House' till it is on. The embassy has not yet updated us in this regard," a panel lawyer said.
Lawyers, who are willing to extend their services voluntarily, are enrolled in the embassy lawyers' panel. Even though, they are not paid for their services, they are provided a small amount by the plaintiff within the knowledge of the embassy.
Shameer P. T. K., a social worker, who has been instrumental along with other social workers in setting up 'Open House' in Oman, said that the outcome of daily 'Open House' cannot be predicted now.
"The 'Open House' system was set in place during the first UPA government in India after repeated requests from Indian community members in Oman. Even though it was organised on a working day every month, later it was shifted to Friday in keeping with the convenience of the workers. We all know that everyone will be able to come to the embassy other than on a Friday due to their work schedule. We have to wait and see how effective the new move turns out will be," Shameer added.
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