Travel safely…

Already, it is quite difficult for me, an Indian, to travel the globe. Even the odd occasion when I want to and can also actually afford it, VISA comes in the way. Lengthy procedures, unreasonable documentation requirements – its already quite a pain.

Now, I hear the Indian government wants to review visa policy for international tourists visiting India – “after the tourist visits India and leaves the country, there has to be a break of 60 days before he/she can apply for another tourist visa”. The next day, there was a revision to the proposed revision. All very confusing. That should do us in completely (the only hope I have is that the visa-scene is pretty bad, as it is now)

Siddharth Varadarajan in his column questions the logic behind these proposed visa rules.. Its pretty much the same question that Shashi Tharoor raised on Twitter which prompted sharp reactions from all quarters.

Varadarajan further asks

How many foreign visitors planning a combined trip to India and Nepal or India, Sri Lanka and Maldives would want to risk being denied re-entry? And since it is the responsibility of the airline to fly out passengers denied entry, one can imagine the confusion and uncertainty that will prevail at foreign airport counters when a tourist who has been to India within the previous 60 days arrives to check in with his “supporting documentation.” As for those on business visas, many of whom make dozens of trips into and out of India annually, the two-month rule would prove disastrous were it ever to be made applicable to them. And if the rule is not going to be applied to business visas, how would it help in a repeat of the Headley case considering that the U.S.-based alleged LeT operative had a long-term business visa?

Hmm. Good question. Will somebody answer? SV, though, might have got it wrong at one little place. Because he seems to put his trust in modern systems/technology

…the key to spotting and tracking potential terrorists lies in properly training our immigration officers, providing them with networked, state-of-the-art computers and generally improving the system of data storage and retrieval. Today, most immigration counters in India are staffed by policemen whose unfamiliarity with modern technology is apparent from the way they gingerly handle a mouse and keyboard.

 Oh oh! Think no further than Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab


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