A POWERFUL PASSPORT – HOW FAR AWAY!
Once you become an international traveler for education, work, research, medical or tourism or for any other reason, you start experiencing the pangs of it. Citizens of different countries experience international travel differently. Let’s not be under the misconception that international travel regime is the same for all the countries. A passport is not just an official document that identifies you as citizen of a particular country, that is used as an access / exit document on inter-country travel, it strength will decide how your international travel fans out. That the rules of game should be the same for all countries is a thought that can be kept for the next century.
Indians have been international travelers in hordes for ages now, so for sure, in their ease of living and ease of doing business a powerful passport is a critical element. Without having great knowledge of the world visa regime, it would be very difficult to comment on the plight we are in. But it has always been that way. Even top shots in the country have been denied visa at times, in different countries, for reasons best known to those countries, even while having strong and time tested diplomatic relations. It is strange that in an age of India being on way to becoming a superpower, this topic never comes for discussion.
A favorable visa regime having a powerful passport like the top rankers is a much bigger critical infrastructure, way more satisfying than the best of fanciful and utilitarian airports. A visa regime like those of the top rankers can be created by design with humongous effort, for the comfort, ease and non-stress travel of the country’s citizens. Can international travel be easy or at ease with the present strength of the Indian passport? How countries have managed to make their passports powerful is to researched and course correction needs to be made at the earliest, otherwise generations of Indians will keep facing this onslaught. While even the high and powerful face visa issues, for the common traveler, it is a tryst with destiny, facing a level of documentation and scrutiny as if he is an immigration challenge. Why visa at all is the question?
Getting visa/s is an excruciating exercise and maintaining visas of different countries depending on your requirements can be nagging. A debilitating international travel experience is what we are handed by governments all these years. Getting visa calls for celebration in this country. It’s an achievement. USA / UK experience is right here, as we speak. A powerful passport allows uninhibited access to the largest number of countries, including all that matter. Passports are ranked on their Mobility Score. The Mobility Score includes visa free (VF), visa on arrival (VOA), eTA and eVisa (if issued within three days) and VF portion of their score vs VOA. The higher the Mobility Score, the better the Passport Power Rank. India ranks 87th while UAE is on the first rank in the world’s strongest passport index 2022. UAE travelers can enter 180 countries hassle free, seven more that European countries like Germany & Sweden and nine more than Japan. Top ten slots after UAE are dominated by European countries. Japan’s passport was ranked as the world’s best by Henley and Partners earlier this year. India was ranked 87th there as well. Where do we fly from here?
PASSPORT INDEX IS NOT JUST A RANK, IT SPEAKS VOLUMES REGARDING THE QUALITY OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL MADE AVAILABLE TO INDIAN CITIZENS.