Easing visa regime

Dhaka,  Monday,   2016-09-20
Published : 20 Sep 2016, 19:40:33

Easing visa regime

India has greatly eased its otherwise stringent visa procedure for Bangladeshi travellers. The latest is its goodwill gesture for senior citizens. It is expected that all other countries in the region and outside will follow it for reaping mutual benefits, writes Rahman Jahangir

Today's world is a global village. Each country has comparative advantages over others in specific fields. And thanks to the information super highway, everybody is aware of what is happening in neighbouring and other countries. If medical treatment is better in India than in other countries, there is no way that the tide of outflow of patients to its doctors and medical centres could be stopped. We now see hundreds of people crossing the Benapole border daily to seek treatment in India. This is because healthcare in Bangladesh has been commercialised beyond limit and people's confidence in it has eroded substantially.

If standard of education is high in Sri Lanka, none can stop studies of Indian or Bangladeshi or Pakistani students there. But then people's easy and hassle-free visits need to be facilitated. Such visits can give one an opportunity to see for oneself the faster developments taking place in various fields in different countries. This does not mean that Bangladesh is losing. As a result, the home country will benefit in the long run because Bangladeshi doctors have to improve their skills for proper diagnosis for effective cure of ailments to woo the patients back home.   

India needs to be given kudos for easing visas for Bangladeshis. It has recently introduced walk-in visas for senior citizens with effect from September 18. Senior citizens, aged 65 and above, will not require prior appointment or e-token now to submit their tourist visa applications. They will get long-term Multiple Entry Tourist visas valid for five years.

The goodwill gesture extended for the benefit of senior citizens will go a long way in building bridge of friendship and amity among the two peoples of Bangladesh and India. Senior citizens, needing medicare at the fag end of their lives, can have easy access to medical facilities now available in India at affordable costs. Many expatriate Indian specialists have returned home and established clinics and hospitals there. There has been of late a 'brain gain' in India because the drain occurred there for a short time for gaining advanced knowledge and expertise abroad. Bangladesh is yet to make such a gain.  

On the other hand, the Indian High Commission has introduced SMS-based appointment and One Time Password (OTP) for the tourist visa applicants from Bangladesh. Under the new system, appointment dates for tourist visa applicants including OTP will be sent to the mobile phone of the applicants by SMS.

We only hope Sri Lanka will also restore on-arrival visas at the earliest as such visas will facilitate more visits by Bangladeshis. Similar gestures of goodwill should be given by other countries for more people-to-people contacts for mutual benefits by creating a win-win situation. Globalisation has effectively ended the era of irrational nationalistic attitudes.


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