In his latest column titled “It’s actually visa on four days’ notice before arrival”, published by Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar has talked about problems faced by a friend’s relative who landed from Japan, but was deported because she misunderstood the terminology: “VISA on arrival”.
Karan narrated the incident of a Japanese visitor, who came to India and was asked to leave from the airport itself, because she did not have a VISA. Apparently the visitor got so hooked to the “VISA on Arrival” terminology that she did not even bother to check this up on the Indian Government’s site. He claims that even All Nippon Airways, the airline she flew on, was not aware that the scheme had critically changed. He writes that the VISA on arrival policy a dishonest, misleading and an inefficient scheme and advises Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his tourism minister to be honest and enticing rather than beguiling but inaccurate. Karan smartly accuses travelers of believing in something which is inaccurate, he writes:
The problem is that by continuing to call the scheme visa on arrival we are misleading travelers and, more importantly, misleading ourselves.
If only our Japanese tourist had sought information from the official sources, instead of just flying to a country, her doubts would have been cleared. She could have easily read the Tourist Visa-On-Arrival policy on Indian Embassy website and Indian Government Website, which should ideally be the most important preliminary step before visiting India. Karan Thapar, who is juggling with semantics, forgot to check either of the sites.
Tourist Visa-On-Arrival on the Embassy of India, Japan clearly states that: In general, all eligible applicants are advised to apply at the nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate for a visa.
The link to online VISA application also says that you can’t just fly to India without completing three steps:
Ideally, any airline operating in the India-Japan route should also know it. It is highly amusing that an International Airline is not aware of basic VISA policy. But then, this too is Modi’s fault as per Karan Thapar. Given the sensitivity around air-travel, officials are expected to be updated with norms are requirements.
The second question raised by Karan Thapar digresses from the original concern and talks about a completely unrelated question. He asks, “how do other countries that offer genuine visas on arrival accommodate a big influx of arrivals in a short space of time? If they can manage why can’t we?” I am not sure if Karan was given a VIP entry when he visited US, UK or Europe, but any layman would retort to his rhetoric by explaining the need to step-by VISA processing in countries where tourism is not the prime industry.
Karan is a veteran journalist. We expect him to do basic checks before flooding the media with advices and accusations. And he should definitely find facts before his half-cooked story expands to 150 other media houses. Otherwise, India will be accused of misleading rather than encouraging newsreaders.