24 January, 2021

Equally Shared Faults

Breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore, and dinner in Kabul. The new visa regime hopefully is a step towards the dream

Equally Shared Faults

Whether the Khans of Bollywood or the Singhs of Punjab, the leisure traveller or the Gulf-bound worker—most Indians contend with passports and visas. Why then the hoopla over the India-Pakistan visa agreement penned by ministers S.M. Krishna and Rehman Malik?

The need for travel documents is as old as civilisation itself. The earliest passport-like document dates from the Persian Achaemenid Empire, circa 5th century BC Shakespeare’s Henry V declares: “...he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made....” The mushrooming railway network in Europe in the 19th century facilitated continental travel. The French abolished passports in 1861, unable to monitor/control ‘aliens’ entering France or citizens headed abroad. It presaged the Schengen visa-free arrangement of today amongst 22 European Union members. But outside their region even they need passports and visas, except the Queen of England, who, as the granter, is said not to need one!

The First World War and concern over spies revived...



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