Saturday, August 06, 2005

Visas

In today's globalized economy, geographical barriers continue to crash down every day. Engineers in India develop Amazon.com's website, Chinese manufacturers produce Mini-Eiffel Tower models and American Executives direct marketing campaigns in Chile.

The concept of the the borderless office or the virtual office is extremely powerful. I myself operate in such an environment with a team in India and another in Europe. This movement towards a situation where labor is sourced for the best location is something that has brought and will continue to bring huge benefits to India.

However, in spite of the global connectivity we have through the internet and advanced telecommunications, actual physical travel continues to be a necessity. One of the things that I have thought about often is the difficulty that Indians have in getting visas to visit other

Americans, Canadians, Western Europeans and Japanese get to travel to almost every country in the world without a visa. Indians on the other hand, can travel to a grand total to two countries without a visa - Sri Lanka and Nepal.

This leads to a bottleneck in the path of Indian Multinationals that seek to service the whole globe. It would be awesome if the Indian Embassies around the world would create a coordinated campaign to convince countries around the world to allow Indians to enter without a visa.

Of course, Indians have historically abused the visa privileges afforded by other countries to the extent that our applications are among the ones that get scrutinized the most. The past cannot be changed. And in order to get things moving, it might be necessary for Indian Government to set in place strict guidelines/procedures to ensure that Indian citizens do not overstay/violate their visa terms.

In the meantime, I continue to envy the ability of Americans to jump on a plane at a moments notice and go to almost any country in the world.

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