The sustained efforts of the Narendra Modi government to establish greater diplomatic ties with countries across the globe are paying dividends. According to the latest report from the Henley Passport Index, India has improved its passport power ranking for the year 2022, climbing seven places to rank in 83rd place compared to the 90th position last year. While the improvement is laudable, a country like India still languishing in the early 80s far behind in the index in the ranking is not an acceptable feat and we have a particular demography to blame for it.
Several factors are taken into consideration while ranking passports of the world’s nations in terms of their power.
One of them is the number of destinations passport holders can access without a prior visa. Indian passport holders can now visit 60 countries without a prior visa.
Some of the countries where Indian passport holders can get Visa On Arrival (VOA) are Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Iran, Armenia, Jordan, Albania, Serbia, Trinidad and Tobago, British Virgin Islands, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand, Bolivia, Mauritius, and Ethiopia.
The rotten apples build a negative perception
However, the big, supposed ‘developed’ countries will be missing from this list. The reason is fairly simple. The countries have a negative perception of India due to some of the rowdy and notorious elements emigrating and indulging in terrorist activities.
Then, there is often the news of Indian families travelling abroad to join ISIS camps, Khalistani groups, and conspiring against India from foreign shores. It all creates a negative image and the countries shy away from giving a visa-free arrival to ordinary Indians.
In November, demanding the balkanization of Punjab, the secessionist supporters also called Khalistani’s held a bogus referendum. While the entire exercise was a sham, it once again put a spotlight on the entire diaspora.
Indian Travellers Deserve Better
India has emerged as the fastest-growing economy in the world. India has broken Chinese jaws along the Indo-Tibetan border multiple times now. It is the fastest-growing economy despite facing two devastating waves of the pandemic.
India is continuously vaccinating a record number of people daily. The countries at the top of the passport charts cannot even imagine vaccinating the number of people that India is jabbing daily. And then, India is also exporting vaccines, and when it is done vaccinating its citizens, will emerge as one of the largest contributors of vaccines worldwide.
India is a country without which global supply chains would stand disrupted. Americans, Britishers, Europeans – they all need India to run their businesses smoothly. Almost everything in the world has an Indian connection.
Therefore, it makes no sense for Indian travellers to be crushed under the weight of international bureaucracy and biased notions due to the actions of a few bad apples, which results in visa rejections for them at an unnatural level.
India also needs to act sternly when need be. Recently, as reported by TFI, India showed a glimpse of it when it came down hard on the United Kingdom for imposing draconian measures on the Indian travellers.
The results from the Henley Passport Index provides a clear picture of how we are able to move or are confined to immobility, starkly highlighting the growing gap in travel freedom. India needs to bridge this gap quickly and the best way to do is to crack down on the extremists, which recently attempted an assassination attempt on PM Modi.