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Merger of PIO and OCI cards becomes a distressing task for embassies abroad

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The merger of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) schemes, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has become a cause of headache for the Indian embassies situated abroad.

As reported by an English newspaper, a top Home Ministry official said that the ministry has now “advised” the Foreign Ministry that the PIO card holders should get their cards converted to machine friendly OCI cards at a nominal fee, as the existing PIO document, which is a paper document, will not be compatible with the card reading machines to be installed at Indian airports.

“We have advised that PIO cardholders to apply and get their cards changed to OCI at the respective embassies so that they do not face any difficulty as authorities in different countries or Indian immigration ports may be confused regarding the PIO-OCI merger,” the top ministry official said.

Earlier in January 2015, the Union Home Ministry had notified that all existing PIO card holders shall be deemed to be OCI card holders, and that there would be only one OCI card with enhanced benefits. But it was not specified whether the cards will need to be changed or not.

Due to lack of clarity on the issue, the embassies have been overburdened with complaints. As per the report, Foreign Ministry officials are now alleging that the lack of homework on part of the Home Ministry has led to serious implementation issues regarding the PIO-OCI merger.

“We may issue FAQs (frequently asked questions) soon to clear the air,” the top home ministry official told The Economic Times.

The official reportedly said that the Home Ministry has scrapped its earlier order that said all PIOs must convert their cards to OCI within three months and the deadline of April 9 has been extended indefinitely.

But the confusion still prevails at Indian embassies abroad. ET reported that the Indian embassy in Germany says that with effect from April 9, 2015, it is “mandatory” for all PIO card holders to have OCI cards. However, the Indian embassy in UK says transfer of PIO card to OCI card is “optional” and existing PIO cards are valid for life for travel to India where an endorsement could be made in the existing PIO cards at the first immigration point of India.

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Microsoft Announces Indian Languages Support For e-mail Addresses

Microsoft's products will also support additional Indian languages as and when their IDNs and e-mail addresses become available in the future

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Microsoft introduces Indian languages on various of its platforms. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft introduces Indian languages on various of its platforms. Wikimedia Commons
  • Microsoft announced support in Indian Languages for e-mail
  • There will be 15 Indian languages supported now
  • Indians will be able to use Microsoft in their local languages

Microsoft on Wednesday announced support for e-mail addresses in 15 Indian languages across its apps and services, including Office 365, Outlook 2016, Outlook.com, Exchange Online and Exchange Online Protection (EOP).

Microsoft introduces 15 new indian languages to its support.
Microsoft introduces 15 new Indian languages to its support.

Indian users would be able to use local language e-mail addresses for Outlook accounts on their personal computers, the company said on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day.

It would also allow users to seamlessly send/receive mails to/from local language e-mail addresses via Outlook client on PCs, Outlook.com in addition to Outlook apps for Android and IOS.

“Making e-mail addresses available in 15 languages is an exciting step to making modern communications and collaboration tools more accessible and easier to use for all,” Meetul Patel, COO, Microsoft India, said in a statement.

The Indian languages which will be supported include Hindi, Bengali, etc. Wikimedia Commons
The Indian languages which will be supported include Hindi, Bengali, etc. Wikimedia Commons

“We are making technology use the language of people and not requiring people to first learn the traditional language of technology,” Patel added.

The initiative is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to support Email Address Internationalisation (EAI) across its products and services eco-system and make technology accessible in local languages.

The languages being introduced are those that support Unicode — an international encoding standard for use with different languages and scripts.

Microsoft’s products will also support additional Indian languages as and when their IDNs and e-mail addresses become available in the future, making this feature forward compatible.

Microsoft launches 15 Indian languages in its support. VOA
Microsoft launches 15 Indian languages in its support. VOA

Last month, Microsoft announced the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Neural Networks (DNN) to improve real-time language translation for Hindi, Bengali and Tamil languages.

This technology would help users in getting results that are more accurate and natural while surfing the Internet across any website on the MS Edge browser, Bing search, Bing Translator website, as well as MS Office 365 products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Skype. IANS