Wednesday January 29, 2020
Home India Passport, Vis...

Passport, Visa Processes Being Eased for Diaspora Indians

Modi called this year's PBD the "most successful" event saying the people of Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, have taken ownership of the three-day jamboree

0
//
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday told overseas Indians that his government is making efforts to ease the processes concerning their social security, passport, visa and PIO and OCI cards and that work is on to issue chip-based e-passports.

Inaugurating this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the Indian diaspora conclave, he said that the government’s endeavour was that overseas Indians should stay “happy and safe wherever they are”.

“The government is trying to ease the entire processes concerning your social security, passport, visa, Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cards. We have taken a new step a few months back concerning overseas Indians. Our embassies and consulates are being connected to the Passport Seva Project worldwide,” he said.

This, he said, will prepare a centralized system connected to the passport service for all of them. “Going one step ahead, work is on for issuing of the chip-based e-passport.”

The Prime Minister said that along with passport, the rules related to visa were being simplified.

“With the convenience of e-visa, you are also saving time and problems are also getting reduced.

“Many of you will also be familiar with the fact that our government has made the process of converting PIO (Person of Indian Origin) cards into OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards.”

Modi also urged Indians or people of Indian living abroad to contribute to the building of a new India and said that the changes that were coming in India were becoming new opportunities.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

“In this changing India, you can a big role in research and development and innovation.

“The government is also trying to bring Indian start-ups and NRI mentors together on one platform. Defence manufacturing can also be an important sector for you.”

Modi urged Indians living abroad to motivate at least five families around them to come to India. “Your efforts will play an important role in enhancing tourism in the country.”

He said that in the last four years, India had taken a major step towards achieving its natural position in the world.

“People used to say that India cannot change,” he said. “We have changed this thinking. We have made changes.”

Stating that today India led the world in many fields, he said the International Solar Alliance was one such example.

“It is also part of our goal of preparing solutions to India’s problems, that can also solve the problems of other countries. We are working with the application of local solution, global application.”

Modi added: “In the last four-and-a-half years, more than two lakh Indians stranded in crisis situations abroad have been helped by the government and its efforts.”

census
Passport (Representational image).

Ahead of this year’s general elections, Modi also launched an attack on the Congress over the issue of corruption citing a quote by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

“He said that only 15 percent of the money that the central government sends from Delhi reach the people.”

Modi said no attempt was made by the Congress to stop this loot. “The country’s middle class continued to pay taxes honestly, and 85 per cent of this loot continued.”

But his government was using technology to eliminate this loot.

Modi’s Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth, the chief guest at the event, commended India’s efforts in reaching out to the diaspora.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj welcomed the gathering.

Also Read- Mark Zuckerberg Claims Facebook Does Not Sell Users’ Data

Organised by the External Affairs Ministry and the Uttar Pradesh government, the Indian diaspora conclave this year has over 5,000 delegates registered.

This year’s theme of the convention is “Role of Indian diaspora in building a new India”.

Modi called this year’s PBD the “most successful” event saying the people of Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, have taken ownership of the three-day jamboree. (IANS)

Next Story

New Requirement by U.S. Citizens to Get Visas for Travelling to Philippines Could Hurt Tourism

0
Philippines Tourism
A requirement that U.S. citizens get visas for travel in the Philippines would hobble the Southeast Asian country's tourism industry. Pixabay

By Ralph Jennings

A requirement that U.S. citizens get visas for travel in the Philippines would hobble the Southeast Asian country’s tourism industry to ease a pair of high-level political spats, analysts say.

U.S. citizens can enter the beach-studded archipelago now on a visa-free landing stamp, saving time and any application fees before travel.

“If we look at the situation of the Philippines in relation with the U.S., of course the Philippines will lose more with that kind of option (a visa rule) than Americans,” said Maria Ela Atienza, political science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman “Americans will have other options.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said last month via his office’s website that Americans would be required to apply for tourist visas if the United States bars entry by officials from Manila who are linked to the imprisonment of Leila de Lima, a Philippine senator who’s at odds with Duterte.

The visa requirement would dim resentment among Filipinos who believe today’s rules are unfair. Filipinos need $160 visas for the United States but do not always qualify.

Tourism impact

The tit-for-tat would bite into a tourism industry that generated $4.78 billion in the first half of 2019, analysts say, because the United States is the third largest source of arrivals after South Korea and China.

Philippines Elections
An armed police escort of opposition Senator Leila de Lima disembarks from their vehicle as she arrives to vote in the country’s midterm elections Monday, May 13, 2019 in suburban Paranaque, southeast of Manila, Philippines. VOA

Americans asked to spend time and money on a visa could go instead to half a dozen other Southeast Asian countries either visa free or with with a visa payable upon landing.

International tourist arrivals to the Philippines rose by 7.7% to 7.1 million visitors in 2018 over 2017, Philippine Department of Trade and Industry figures show. Of those visitors, 1,587,959 came from South Korea, 1,255,258 from China and 1,034,396 from the United States.

Americans often travel to the Philippines for beach holidays and tours of old Spanish architecture.

Filipino-Americans who still hold Philippine passports could still get back into their old homeland without visas. “It will probably be the tourists (who are affected), American tourists who are not from here,” said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Metro Manila-based advocacy group Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

Senator vs. Duterte

A visa requirement would answer the Philippine government’s opposition to a U.S. budget proposal to ban entry to the United States by certain officials linked to the De Lima case.

De Lima, a harsh critic of Duterte, was charged in 2017 with orchestrating a drug-trafficking ring while justice secretary before 2015. Some believe her arrest was politically motivated.

Philippines Boracay
Visitors gather along the beach during sunset in Boracay island, Philippines. VOA

The 2020 U.S. budget contains a provision authorizing the Secretary of State to ban Philippine officials from entry if the U.S. side finds “credible information” that they “have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment” of De Lima.”

“We have explained repeatedly that the subject provision is ineffective given that the Filipino Senator is not wrongfully detained,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said via his office’s website. If the U.S. goes ahead, he said, “This government will require all Americans intending to come to the Philippines to apply and secure a visa before they can enter Philippine territory.”

The U.S. Embassy in Manila did not answer a request last week for comment.

Reciprocity issue

A visa rule for Americans might also set a stage for negotiations on visa rules from both sides, Casiple said. Filipinos must apply for visas to enter the United States and not everyone gets approval.

“I think it will be within the context of renegotiation, not a policy immediately,” he said. “Particularly, it will raise the question of reciprocity.”

Filipinos have historically seen the wealthier United States as a place to find high-paid work and remit money to family back home. Tourist visa applicants pay a $160 fee and must pass a consular interview to be approved. U.S. Department of Homeland Security data show that 5,276 Filipinos overstayed non-immigrant “pleasure” visas in 2018.

Duterte might not act on his threat, some caution.

Also Read- Find out How Hospitals and Cosmetic Clinics in Vietnam Help the Tourism Industry Grow

“I don’t take Duterte’s visa threats too seriously, as he has a history of just spouting off,” said Sean King, vice president of the Park Strategies political consultancy in New York. “Our countries’ relationship will long outlast Duterte’s reign. We can’t overreact to every little thing he does.”

If the United States hits back, King said, it should avoid hurting an overall U.S.-friendly Filipino public and instead “personally needle Duterte.” (VOA)