E-Visa For UK Nationals To India

E-Visa Facility Resumes For UK Nationals Travelling To India

For the first time since the COVID outbreak in March 2020, India is all set to resume the e-Visa facility for UK citizens travelling to India, the High Commissioner of India to the UK, Vikram K Doraiswami announced in a video message on Monday.

Doraiswami said that the service will be made available to the citizens forthwith and the dates will be announced shortly. He further added that the resumption of the facility will enable friends from the UK to travel far more easily to India.
“We are rolling out e-visas once again and this service will be made available to you forthwith. (Dates will be announced shortly). That should enable friends from the UK far more easily to India. So welcome back, e-visas are up ahead and all of our other services including visas at your doorstep remain available to you. We look forward to a good winter season in which everyone gets to celebrate their festivals in India which is the land of festivals,” the High Commissioner said.

The Indian High Commission in London on Monday tweeted, Team @HCI_London is delighted to confirm that the e-Visa facility will again be available for UK nationals travelling to India. A system upgrade is underway & the visa website will soon be ready to receive applications from friends in the UK. Here’s a video on the subject. @MEAIndia.”

Earlier in August, UK Immigration Statistics said that Indian nationals were issued the largest number of UK study, work, and visitor visas.

India has now overtaken China as the largest nationality being issued sponsored study visas in the UK.

India and UK are engaged in negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement. On November 28, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasised the importance of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India.

“By 2050, the Indo-Pacific will deliver over half of global growth compared with just a quarter from Europe and North America combined. That’s why we’re joining the Trans-Pacific trade deal, the CPTP, delivering a new FTA with India and pursuing one with Indonesia,” Sunak said in his address at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall. (ANI)

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UK Population

For The 1st Time, Christians Are Less Than 50% Of UK Population

For the first time, fewer than half of people in England and Wales describe themselves as Christian, the Census 2021 has revealed, according to a report by BBC News.

The proportion of people who said they were Christian was 46.2%, down from 59.3% in the last census in 2011, said the report. In contrast, the number who said they had no religion increased to 37.2% of the population, up from a quarter.

Those identifying as Muslim rose from 4.9% in 2011 to 6.5% last year. The census is carried out every 10 years by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

People were asked the broad question of what their religion was rather than being asked more specifically about their beliefs or religious practices, in the voluntary question included in the census since 2001.

Ticking “no religion” does not mean having no beliefs, says Prof Linda Woodhead, from King’s College London. “Some will be atheist, a lot will be agnostic – they just say, ‘I don’t really know – and some will be spiritual and be doing spiritual things,” she said, according to the BBC report.

Separately when people were asked about their ethnic group, 81.7% of residents in England and Wales identified as White, down from 86.0% a decade earlier, according to the census.

And 74.4% of the total population identified as White as well as English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, or British.

The next most common ethnic group was Asian, Asian British, or Asian Welsh accounting for 9.3% of the overall population – 5.5 million people, up from 4.2 million.

The number of people identifying as Black, Black British, Black Welsh, Caribbean, or African was 2.5% of the population, up from 1.8%, taking the figure from 990,000 to 1.5 million.

One in 10 of households across England and Wales are now made up of people from two or more different ethnic groups – an increase from 8.7%, reported the BBC.

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Sunak Foreign Policy Approach To China

Golden Era Is Over: Sunak On Foreign Policy Approach To China

In his first major address on Foreign Policy, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday strongly asserted that the “golden era” between Britain and China is “now over” and that it is time to evolve the approach towards China as the country is posing a systemic challenge to UK’s values and interest with its authoritarian rule.

During his address at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall, Sunak also criticised the human rights abuses taking place in China while putting forward his stance on foreign policy.
“Let’s be clear, the so-called ‘golden era’ is over, along with the naive idea that trade would lead to social and political reform. We recognise China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism,” the UK Prime Minister said in his address.

Speaking further he said, “We are taking a long-term view on China strengthening our resilience and protecting our economic security,” and added that the UK cannot simply ignore China’s global significance.

The UK Prime Minister also expressed concern over the ongoing protests in China against COVID lockdowns and said that instead of listening to people’s concerns, the Chinese government “has chosen to crack down further” as he highlighted the recent arrest and manhandling of BBC reporters in China.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Shanghai, where people were being bundled into police cars. Students have also demonstrated at universities in Beijing and Nanjing.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered in downtown Shanghai on Sunday afternoon to hold what appeared to be a silent protest near where a demonstration against China’s zero-Covid policy erupted in the early hours.

Demonstrators holding blank pieces of paper and white flowers stood silently at several intersections, the person said under condition of anonymity, before police officers eventually moved to clear the blocked roads.

Sunak was supposed to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia earlier this month however the meeting was called off after NATO members gathered for an emergency meeting following a missile strike in a Polish village near the Ukrainian border.

The Prime Minister listed measures the UK government has taken, including new authority granted under the National Security and Investment Act, to prevent China from restricting its influence in the UK.

Reiterating Britain’s stand on Indo-Pacific, Sunak said the Indo-Pacific will deliver over half of global growth by 2050 compared with just a quarter from Europe and North America combined, which is why Britain joined the Trans-Pacific trade deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), delivering a new FTA with India and pursuing one with Indonesia.

India and the United Kingdom have a multi-dimensional strategic partnership and actively engage in bilateral trade. The two countries agreed to begin formal negotiations for an FTA in January 2022, aiming to advance trade and investment relations between them.

On Ukraine, Sunak said, “We stand by Ukraine and are also reinvigorating our European relationships to tackle challenges like security and tackling migration.”

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his maiden visit to Kyiv after assuming office, the previous week and assured Britain’s continued support to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Taking to Twitter, the British Prime Minister wrote, “Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom. We are with you all the way @ZelenskyyUa,” as Sunak expressed support for Ukraine.

Earlier in August, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote a letter on Ukraine’s Independence Day, praising the country’s steadfast courage in standing up to Russian “aggression” and promising support from the people of the United Kingdom.

Sunak promised to continue assisting Ukraine’s valiant warriors and declared that Britain will continue to offer humanitarian aid to make sure Ukrainian people have access to food and medicine amid the ongoing war.

He said the UK’s “adversaries and competitors plan for the long-term” as he mentioned Russia and China and said the UK will “make an evolutionary leap in our approach”. (ANI)

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modi about Indian musical instruments

Export Of Indian Musical Instruments Increased, USA, UK Biggest Buyers: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, while lauding Indian classical music and its craze outside the country, said that the exports of Indian classical musical instruments have increased and their biggest buyers include developed countries such as USA and UK.

The Prime Minister was addressing the 95th edition of the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme.
“The export of musical instruments from India has increased by 3.5 times since last year. It shows the interest of the world in Indian classical music. In the last eight years, musical instrument exports have increased by 3.5 times; electrical musical instrument exports have also increased by 60 times. This indicates that the craze for Indian culture and music is increasing across the world,” PM Modi said.

“The biggest buyers of Indian musical instruments are developed countries like USA, Germany, France, Japan and UK,” he added.

The Prime Minister mentioned a Greece artist Konstantinos Kalaitzis who did a rendition of Vaishav Janato, a song said to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite, and said that the artist weaved all his India-related experiences in a book.

“Konstantinos Kalaitzis, an artist from Greece has done a beautiful rendition of Vaishav Janato – Bapu’s favourite song. Not only this, Konstantinos has visited India regularly in the last 42 years to study India’s classical music and dance traditions. He has studied the contribution of many great personalities of Indian music,” he said.

“He has beautifully weaved all his India-related experiences in a book titled ‘Indian Music’ having nearly 760 pictures. Most of these pictures have been clicked by him. Such enthusiasm and fascination about Indian culture in other countries are really heartening,” PM Modi added.

Highlighting the richness of the Indian culture, the Prime Minister said that the genres of Indian music have left an “indelible mark on the world”.

“In our culture, classical music is considered divine. All our Gods and Goddesses are shown playing many musical instruments. From flowing rivers to the chirping of birds we can find music everywhere. Our genres of music have not only enriched our culture but have also left an indelible mark on the world,” he said. (ANI)

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Asthma attack post Covid 19

Asthma Attack Cases Have Doubled After Covid in UK: Study

After Covid-19 limitations were loosened in the UK, adults with asthma experienced about a doubled risk of having a severe asthma attack, according to recent research.

Episodes of progressive worsening of asthma symptoms, termed exacerbations or asthma attacks, are the major cause of illness and death in this condition. Asthma affects more than 5 million people in the UK and more than 300 million globally. Symptoms include breathlessness and chest tightness as well as wheezing and coughing.

Published in Thorax and presented at a British Thoracic Society meeting, the research found an increased risk of these attacks after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed. When restrictions were lifted, fewer people wore face coverings and there was more social mixing, and subsequently a higher risk of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections. The research also found that Covid-19 was not significantly more likely to trigger asthma attacks than other respiratory infections.

In April 2021, when social mixing restrictions and the need for face coverings started to be relaxed, 1.7 percent of participants reported having a severe asthma attack in the previous month. In January 2022, this proportion more than doubled, going up to 3.7 percent.

The study analyzed data from 2,312 UK adults with asthma, participating in Queen Mary’s COVIDENCE UK study between November 2020 and April 2022. Details on face covering use, social mixing, and asthma symptoms were collected via monthly online questionnaires.

Professor Adrian Martineau, the lead author of the research and Clinical Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity at the Queen Mary University of London, said: “This research shows that relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions coincided with an increased risk of severe asthma attacks. Our study was observational, so it can’t prove cause and effect. But our findings do raise the possibility that certain elements of the public health measures introduced during the pandemic – such as wearing facemasks – could help in reducing respiratory illnesses moving forward”.

Dr. Florence Tydeman, the first author on the paper, added: “It is also reassuring to see that Covid-19 was not significantly more likely to trigger asthma attacks than other respiratory infections in our study participants.”

The study is the first to compare the influence of COVID-19 versus other respiratory infections on the risk of asthma exacerbations. And it is one of few studies that look at the impact of lifting national restrictions on people with asthma. (ANI)

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Sunak grants 3000 UK Visas For Indians

Sunak Greenlights 3,000 UK Visas For Indians Hrs After Meeting Modi

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has given the go-ahead for 3,000 visas for young professionals from India to work in the UK each year.

The British government said India is the first visa-national country to benefit from such a scheme, highlighting the strength of the UK-India Migration and Mobility Partnership agreed upon last year.
“Today the UK-India Young Professionals Scheme was confirmed, offering 3,000 places to 18-30-year-old degree-educated Indian nationals to come to the UK to live and work for up to two years,” the UK Prime Minister’s Office said in a tweet.

This announcement in the Downing Street readout came hours after Sunak met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the 17th edition of the G20 Summit. This was their first meeting after the first Indian-origin British PM assumed office last month.

“Prime Ministers @narendramodi and @RishiSunak in conversation during the first day of the @g20org Summit in Bali,” PM Modi’s Office said in a tweet.

Under the new UK-India Young Professionals Scheme, the UK will offer 3,000 places annually to 18-30-year-old degree-educated Indian nationals to come to the UK to live and work in the UK for up to two years. The scheme will be reciprocal.

“The launch of the scheme is a significant moment both for our bilateral relationship with India and the UK’s wider commitment to forging stronger links with the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen both our economies,” Downing Street said in a statement.

It said the UK has more links with India than almost any country in the Indo-Pacific region. Nearly a quarter of all international students in the UK are from India, and Indian investment in the UK supports 95,000 jobs across the UK.

The UK is currently negotiating a trade deal with India – if agreed it will be the first deal of its kind India has made with a European country. The trade deal would build on the UK-India trading relationship, already worth 24 billion pounds, and allow the UK to seize the opportunities presented by India’s growing economy.

In parallel to the mobility partnership with India, the British government said it is also strengthening its ability to remove immigration offenders.

“A landmark Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the UK and India in May 2021 aimed at increasing mobility between our countries, returning those with no right to be in the UK and India respectively and sharing best practices on organized immigration crime,” the UK PMO added. (ANI)

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Sunak grants 3000 UK Visas For Indians

Modi Meets UK’s Sunak For First Time At G20 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met his United Kingdom counterpart Rishi Sunak after assuming office for the first time on the sidelines of the 17th edition of the G20 Summit.

“Prime Ministers @narendramodi and @RishiSunak in conversation during the first day of the @g20org Summit in Bali,” PM Modi’s Office said in a tweet.
This is the first face-to-face meeting that took place between both leaders. Earlier, in October, PM Modi and Sunak spoke on the phone and emphasized the importance of an early conclusion of “a balanced and comprehensive” Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

PM Modi arrived in Bali on Monday and met President of the Republic of Senegal Macky Sall, Netherland’s PM Mark Rutte and US President Joe Biden.

“Deliberations with an important developmental partner in Africa. PM @narendramodi interacted with President @Macky_Sall, the President of Senegal and Chairman of the African Union. @PR_Senegal,” PMO tweeted.

PMO also said, “Multilateral summits present wonderful opportunities for leaders to exchange views on diverse issues. Prime Ministers @narendramodi and Mark Rutte interact during the @g20org Summit in Bali.”

Earlier today, PM Modi addressed the G20 working session on Food and Energy Security session and reiterated India’s long-standing position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy in Ukraine and said “‘We have to find a way to return to the path of the ceasefire” in Kyiv.

“I have repeatedly said that we have to find a way to return to the path of ceasefire and diplomacy in Ukraine,” PM said.

“Over the past century, the Second World War wreaked havoc in the world. After that, the leaders of that time made a serious effort to take the path of peace. Now it’s our turn. The onus of creating a new world order for the post-Covid period lies on our shoulders. The need of the hour is to show concrete and collective resolve to ensure peace, harmony, and security in the world,” he added.

Referring to India as the “holy land of Buddha and Gandhi” PM Modi said that he is confident that the next year when G20 meets they will all agree to convey a strong message of peace to the world.

PM Modi started his speech by congratulating Indonesia for giving effective leadership to the G-20 in a challenging global environment. He further said that Climate change, the Covid pandemic, the developments in Ukraine, and the global problems associated with it have created havoc in the world.

“Global supply chains are in ruins. There is a crisis of essentials and essential goods all over the world. The challenge for the poor citizens of every country is more severe. Everyday life was already a struggle for them. They do not have the financial capacity to deal with the double whammy. Due to the double whammy, they lack the financial capacity to handle it. We should also not hesitate to acknowledge that multilateral institutions such as the UN have been unsuccessful on these issues. And we have all failed to make suitable reforms to them. Therefore, today the world has greater expectations from the G-20, and the relevance of our group has become more significant,” PM Modi added.

Talking about the problems during the pandemic situation, PM said that India had ensured the food security of its 1.3 billion citizens. At the same time, food grains were also supplied to many countries in need. The current shortage of fertilizers in terms of food security is also a huge crisis.

He further said that the fertilizer shortage “is tomorrow’s food crisis,” and the world will not have a solution.

PM Modi said that all the G20 countries have to build mutual agreement to maintain the supply chain of both manure and food grains stable and assured.

“In India, for sustainable food security, we are promoting natural farming and re-popularising nutritious and traditional foodgrains like millets. Millets can also solve global malnutrition and hunger. We all must celebrate the International Year of Millets with great enthusiasm next year,” he added. (ANI)

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Russia Nuclear Weapons

G7 Warns Of Severe Consequences If Russia Uses Nuclear Weapons

A day after Russia’s large-scale missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, Group of Seven (G7) nations condemned the attacks and warned that the use of nuclear weapons on Ukraine will have severe consequences, according to a statement released by the White House.

Leaders of G7 states (the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, the US, France, and Japan) said, “We deplore deliberate Russian escalator steps, including the partial mobilization of reservists and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, which is putting global peace and security at risk. We reaffirm that any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by Russia would be met with severe consequences.”
Earlier, on Monday, Russia conducted that large-scale strikes on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other locations on Monday, which drew condemnation from several countries.

The statement came after the G7 held a meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that took place against the backdrop of the recent missile attacks against civilian infrastructure and cities across Ukraine, leading to the death of innocent civilians.

Talking about Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s four regions, the G7 said that Russia has blatantly violated the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. “They cannot and do not give Russia a legitimate basis to change Ukraine’s borders. We call upon all countries to unequivocally reject these violations of international law and demand that Russia ceases all hostilities and immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from Ukraine,” the statement said.

G7 in the statement said that they have imposed and will continue to impose further economic costs on Russia, and even on other countries who are providing political or economic support for Russia’s illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory.

“We reiterate our call on the Belarusian authorities to stop enabling the Russian war of aggression by permitting Russian armed forces to use Belarusian territory and by providing support to the Russian military. The announcement of a joint military group with Russia constitutes the most recent example of the Belarusian regime’s complicity with Russia. We renew our call on the Lukashenko regime to fully abide by its obligations under international law,” the statement said.

“We reaffirm our full support for Ukraine’s independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty in its internationally recognized borders. In line with international law, in particular the UN Charter, Ukraine has the legitimate right to defend itself against Russian aggression and to regain full control of its territory within its internationally recognized borders,” the statement added.

G7 also said that they are looking forward to the outcomes of the International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction, and Modernisation of Ukraine, which is taking place on October 25.

Talking about the “deliberate damage” in Nordstream pipelines, G7 said that they strongly condemn deliberate disruption of critical infrastructure.

“We will act in solidarity and close coordination to address the negative impact of Russia’s aggression for global economic stability, including by continuing to cooperate to ensure energy security and affordability across the G7 and beyond,” G7 said in the statement. (ANI)

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India Economy

Shah: India Becoming 5th Largest Economy In World Overtaking UK

Highlighting the country’s growth stride, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that India, which was ranked 11th on the list of the world largest economies in 2014, has today overtaken the UK to occupy the 5th position.

Addressing a public rally here, Shah said, “This Amrit Kaal is the time to set goals for the people of the country. I want to tell all the youth of the country that you must decide a goal of your life for the country and definitely take a resolution.”
“In 2014, our country stood at 11th position in world economy list. Today we have overtaken the UK to hold the 5th position. We have conveyed it to the world that in 75 years, we have moved ahead of you and made our independence meaningful,” added the Home Minister.

Pertinent to mention, India has overtaken Britain to become the world’s fifth largest economy and as per International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections, only USA, China, Japan, and Germany are now ahead of India in terms of the volume of the national economy.

The lead was attained during the last three months of 2021 and extended in the first quarter of 2022. India has jumped six positions over the last decade. Only a decade ago, it was in the eleventh position while the UK occupied the fifth rank. It has also extended its share in the global GDP by nearly one percentage point since 2014 when it was the 10th largest economy in the world. India’s share in the global GDP is now 3.5 pc as against 2.6 pc in 2014.

Shah is on a two-day visit to Bihar. Earlier today, he inaugurated five Border Out Posts of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in Kishanganj.

Lauding the role of the SSB in the battle against Naxalism, the Union Home Minister said owing to their “tough fight”, Naxalism has been finished in Bihar and Jharkhand regions.

“SSB jawans have fought a tough fight against Naxalism rampant in the northeast. As a result, Naxalism is on the brink of ending in Bihar and Jharkhand regions, we can even say it is finished here,” Shah said while speaking on the occasion.

Acknowledging their duty, the Home Minister said that the SSB has the toughest duty to perform because of the open border with Nepal and Bhutan.

“Sitting in Delhi, one thinks you have the easiest duty as we’ve friendly relations with both nations (Nepal and Bhutan). But when one comes to the border, we realise that you have the toughest duty as it’s an open border,” he said.

“The responsibility increases if it’s an open border. However friendly may the relations be, even if the neighbouring nations have no ill intentions, there are a few elements in society who use open borders for unauthorised earning – be it smuggling, animal smuggling or infiltration,” the Minister added.

Earlier today, Shah offered prayers at Budhi Kali Mata Temple at Subhashpally Chowk of Kishanganj.

Meanwhile, speaking on Nitish Kumar, Shah on Friday addressed the ‘Jan Bhavna Mahasabha’ rally and said that the people of the state will “wipe out the Lalu-Nitish duo” in the 2024 general elections and the party will come to power in the state in 2025.

Addressing the ‘Jana Bhavna Mahasabha’ in Bihar’s Purnea, Shah said, “In 2014, you (Bihar CM Nitish Kumar) only had 2 LS seats, ‘naa ghar ke rahe the, naa ghaat ke’. Let the 2024 LS elections come, the Bihar public will wipe out the Lalu-Nitish duo. We’re, with a full majority, going to come to power here in 2025 polls”.

Shah further said that Nitish Kumar does not favour any political ideology, and can join hands with any party to stay in power.

“Nitish Kumar is not in favour of any political ideology. Nitish ji can leave socialism and go with Lalu ji also, can do casteist politics. Nitish ji can leave socialism and sit with the Left, Congress. He may also leave RJD and join BJP. Nitish has only one policy – my chair should remain intact,” he said. The Home Minister said that danger of “‘Jungle-raj’ is looming over Bihar”. (ANI)

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Kabootarbaazi: The immigration racket


is a kabootarbaaz, literally a pigeon handler but now the slang word in northern India for those who organise illegal immigration. People like Kumar make money from kabootars — those desperate to get to promised lands where jobs and social security are available. Kumar, who operates out of a South Delhi colony,  doesn’t forge documents; he ensures a visa to a foreign country where the potential immigrant must then disappear and make his own way. Here’s what this business is all about, in 45-year-old Kumar’s own words:

You may call me a trafficker, illegal immigrant pusher or kabootarbaaz, but I take pride in my work. Most of us consider our profession as an instrument to level the playing field and bring an end to economic disparity. My clients are largely from rural Punjab or Gujarat, lured by the glamour of a western lifestyle. They approach us by word of mouth. We never make or help make forged documents.

Our services are procuring a valid visa and ensuring that the client reaches the destination, often with the help of a ‘carrier’. After that, how the banda (colloquial for person, here client) dissolves into the foreign country is not our headache. For European countries, barring the UK, we charge around ₹5 lakh. For the UK, Canada and the US, the fee is double.

The payment is made part in India and rest after the client reaches ‘home’. I specialize in Schengen countries. Most of our clients want to go to Germany as their family circle is there. We have mapped lenient or ‘pliable’ embassies. When we find German embassy ‘uncooperative’ in a case, we get the Schengen visa through countries like Malta (the most preferred one), Czech Republic, Spain, Slovenia, etc.

From there, the banda travels by road or train to reach Germany. There are two tricky parts in this game. Not papers, but visa and the immigration. Documents like passport, IT return and PAN card must always be genuine. Normally, embassies suspect young people leaving India for Europe. So, we need a carrier, with respectable track record, to vouch for the client as an assistant or an employee of the traveller (carrier).

The carrier, depending upon our client could be a failed sportsman, B-grade musician, retired Army officer or bureaucrat who has fallen on bad times. I have personally used all these categories of carriers. For a group, since the stakes are high, we first visit the destination country ourselves and go through their annual event calendar. We mark events like a trade fair, local cricket tournament or an Indian classic music programme.

Now, depending upon the pack, we decide how to plan the ‘departure’. If our pack is an athletic looking young lot, we mark local sports events. Else, a business expo or a local music event. The next target is to search for the right carrier to lead the troupe or team.

Here is how it works: I place an ad in newspapers looking for retired officers who are well travelled, and willing to work as partners in a new venture. I then screen the unscrupulous or desperate ones, luring them with a free return ticket to a foreign country, a brief stay and $500. We then disguise our clients as junior musicians, a sports team, or representatives of an exporters group looking for printing tech, and apply for the visa.

The invites are mostly genuine and the carrier has his/her career record to back the ‘team’. Very few European embassies seek personal interviews. Besides, the language barrier works to our advantage. Only in a rare case is an application rejected.


WHO MAKES WHAT
Agent: ₹5-10 Lakh Carrier: $500-1000 plus return ticket and boarding expenses Immigration Officials: ₹25-50,000 Embassy Officials: Unspecified

The next barrier is the immigration desk. There are many agents who try to bypass this barrier to save loose change. This is foolish. Immigration officials, often drawn from security services, can easily tell a genuine traveler from a kabootar. Their fee, called cutsey (probably derived from courtesy), barely crosses ₹50,000.

If you ever come across a case where illegal immigrants or fraudulent travelers were caught at airport, you can be sure that the agent hadn’t paid the immigration desk. Since immigration desk works under CCTV cameras, last-minute deals are impossible or very expensive.

What happens when the banda reaches destination? I told you this is not our concern. But to your information, mostly they contact their community, hide their passports and find local jobs. These jobs could be night shifts at various 24X7 shops, or in remote areas.

When the support is good, mostly in UK or US, the banda hires a lawyer and applies for asylum and, later, citizenship. Some stay there in jobs to later apply for social security number with the help of rights groups. In that case, Canada is the most benevolent.

In other places, the banda can get away by either bribing the cops or by destroying their passports and preferring a jail term while simultaneously applying for social security benefits with the help of rights groups. The real Ram Rajya for an illegal immigrant is not in India, Sirji. It is in Europe. Try it.

With editorial assistance from LokMarg; name of travel changed to maintain anonymity]]>