The other day I had to apply for a Pakistani visa, a task which took me all of three hours and left me with a distinct soreness that prevented me from doing Yoga all of last week . The whole application was a veritable thesis which ran into several pages with the required number of copies.
All visa application forms are like attempting lie detector tests with the strange questions you have to answer to prove the genuineness of your intent to visit for peaceful purposes. I mean this is outright ridiculous . Did Kasab and gang apply for Indian Visas? Not at all. Yet these men managed to make an entry into Mumbai harbour , enter the poshest hotels in town and do exactly as they pleased. In fact every terrorist manages to get into whichever country he wants without the slightest hitch.
I would have thought that countries are dying to have people like me visit them : the ones who actually stimulate their moribund economies by consuming vast quantities of food if not other consumables. We are the people who want to visit every nook and cranny, who actually support the local arts and crafts by buying kitschy knick knacks for either ourselves or friends and relatives back home. If it weren’t for people like me, there wouldn’t be any Hop On Hop Off Buses on the road. Nor for that matter would there be tour guides and touts not to mention the hospitality industry run by small entrepreneurs with their cute B&Bs.
So why do countries need to issue visas ? The people who are out to create havoc in the world are definitely not going to announce their intentions to do so. Nor is any criminal going to answer questions relating to his imprisonment, crime etc. So why do ordinary tourists have to answer such questions? As for personal information, what difference does it make what my mother’ name is and what her profession is?
And why can’t the process be more streamlined ? Each country asks for photos of different sizes, some countries require the applicant to produce IT returns as proof of solvency or a bank certificate verifying a minimum balance that runs into hundreds of thousands…..
Granted we do need permission to enter countries but surely the process of applying for a visa can be less painful.