By Shah Ghar
I thank J.V. Lakshmana Rao for writing a timely editorial — Drop levy of punitive fees from PIOs/OCIs — in the India Tribune issue dated June 12. I do fully concur with the points he had raised in his editorial.
I’d like to address a few points as a review and follow-up to what the Indian Consulate in Chicago has to says. I belief, as the editor of India Tribune, he has better chances of getting heard than an average US citizen.
Because of change of rules, as a holder of an American passport with 10-year multiple-entry Indian Visitor visa, I cannot visit India within two months.
The last time I visited Singapore and returned back to India twice in four weeks and finally left India. Now I cannot do that unless I register first, go through hassles in another city like Bombay, which is some 350 miles away from the place where I live. So what is the meaning of multiple-entry visa now?
I’ve seen the US giving multiple entry visas to Indian citizens to enter the USA for simply sightseeing or visiting tourist attractions like Niagara Falls and traveling between Canada and the USA without any difficulty. These Indian visitors take the Bahama Cruise without any hassle from the US Immigration. By following such simple rules, the governments of the US and Canada accommodate and promote tourism for everyone.
Then why can’t the government of India simplify the rules for the US citizens for travel to India and its neighboring countries and return to their country via India? Why does the government of India create hassles to tourists in every possible or imaginable way?
It is time the government of India changed its visa and entry rules.
I make the following suggestions to the government of India:
l Convert the existing Tou-rist-T visa holder to Entry-E visa upon entry at Bombay – the port of entry. The government must revise entry process with some sort of understanding or accommodation or facilitate tourist by simpler rules.
l No fees should be charged again and again from 10-year multiple entry visa-holders. Do not create any more hassles and do not ask them to send/mail their US passports again to the consulate.
l Accommodate tourists by giving them “Entry E” visas for 10 years.
l The government can apply a changed rule if any, when one applies again for the next visitor/entry visa or upon expiration of the current one.
l Why not the Indian consulates accept credit cards when collecting consulate services fees in the USA?
l Why not make forms and processes simpler for applying visas, passports, PIO/OCI cards or any consulate services?
I can renew or get the USA passport with a simple one page form by submitting it at a post office and get everything completed in very simple common sense way without any hassle or grief.
I really dread dealing with an Indian consulate, a government office, or even a bank in India.
Many Indians feel the same way. They are avoiding traveling to India. The latest hurdle is “Passport Surrender Certificate” rule. If things keep changing like this, I am afraid that Indian tourism would suffer.
It should be an eye-opener for the government of India that our second generation US-born adults and children don’t really plan or look forward to visiting India.
They do not have much patience or appetite for filling out forms and meeting complicated processes with several hassles.
They are already saying “No or heck with it” to going on their own…unless they have to… or when accompanied by their Indian parents.
Many Indian-born US citizens and NRIs are not planning go to India unless it is absolutely required.
I know the government of India which is, run by bureaucrats, does not give a hoot whether NRIs, PIOs or OCIs visit India or not.