Douwe Osinga's Blog: On the silliness of visas

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A few weeks ago we decided to go to India; I feel cheated out of a summer by this last European august, so a bit of beach in Goa and some meeting of old friends would help see us through rainy November just marvellously.

India is one of those countries that requires you to get a visa before arrival and hasn't quite copied Australia's easy completely online procedure. I had hear that it might take a bit of time, so 10 days before the trip we went down to the Indian Visa place in Berlin.

It was harder than I thought. From the need of having 2x2 inch sized color pictures that can only be taken in the Visa Building, to the fact that the embassy doesn't recognise my residency in Berlin making me have to travel to the Netherlands and the demand of a declaration by my employer saying I had applied for vacation and received permission to the fact that the procedure can take anything from between 1 day and two weeks, this is not a very good illustration of Fabulous India.

And it makes you wonder. Doesn't India want tourists? Why would they need to know in which army my grandfather has served if I only want to come and spend money in their country?

But then you check the Dutch Embassy and look at what is required from an Indian wanting to travel to Europe. It is worse. Non-refundable tickets, all hotels pre-booked and proof of means is the start. An employer declaration is also needed. And you better make copies of all documents, the embassy will not provide.

So maybe the Indians are playing tit-for-tat. Either way, these non-sense rules seem to be based on a rather outdated view of the world where India (and China I suppose) are thought of as poor countries in need of aid rather than tomorrow's superpowers. When you ask China to help bail out Greece and when an Indian company is the largest industrial employer in the UK, it doesn't seem like such a good idea to make it hard for business people from those countries to visit.

The only thing Greece and Italy have more than debts is tourist attractions. Meanwhile at the other side of the planet there is an exploding Chinese middle class eager to start traveling. I would say, free Schengen visa with each Euro rail ticket purchased! The other two members of the BRIC club, Russia and Brazil might have less people, but arguably are more connected to Europe.

Less bail-out money needed, easier travel to India, it would certainly work for me.