American Tourists to India Can Now Get Visas More Easily

Most American tourists can soon obtain visas to travel to India much more easily. The new plan does not help business travelers.

According to media reports, this single-entry tourist visa is valid for 30 days, and a traveler may apply twice in a year. You submit an online application, pay $60, and upload an electronic copy of your passport and a photograph. A screening process follows, and within 72 hours, you will know if your visa application has been approved. Once that’s done, print a copy of the “electronic travel authorization” you receive via email, and take it with you to present when you land at one of nine international airports across India. At the airport, an immigration official will take your fingerprint and, everything being in order, you’ll be cleared to enter the country.

To the India Expert, this won’t smell like a visa on arrival, of the kind offered to American tourists by most countries, where the traveler just shows up at any border checkpoint with their passport and is let in within a few minutes and some onsite paperwork.

But it will still go a long way in boosting tourist travel to the country.  Besides the USA, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, much of Northern and Eastern Europe, most of South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea are also part of the expanded plan for the new e-visa process. The United Kingdom, France and Canada are not included at this point.

Only nine of India’s 20 airports will offer visas on arrival, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

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November 29, 2014   No Comments

India Myth: Is Bollywood Star Priyanka Chopra Being Cutesy? No!

The Wall Street Journal has a  great blog post about Prime Minister Modi’s “Clean India” campaign and  the role of celebrity Priyanka Chopra in cleaning up  a garbage infested area of the Mumbai neighborhood of Versova. It includes an 11 minute YouTube video. But my beef is with the implications of the second word of the post which begins “In pink rubber gloves and a surgical mask, former Miss World and Bollywood movie star Priyanka Chopra is the latest celebrity to be enlisted…”  In American culture, pink is associated with  feminine characteristics and it seems that the journalist is also insinuating that Ms. Chopra is somehow being flippant or frivolous by wearing cutesy pink gloves as a photo op.

But the reality is that many, if not most, medical rubber gloves used in India have a pink or light red hue. She is simply wearing gloves (and glasses) to protect her hands and eyes. The former Miss World is dead serious in my view. But by one little word, even if is true literally, the tone of  the article is altered. (The Wall Street Journal is actually doing a great job of covering India this year, unlike most American media, so this is just a minor peeve with one article).

Bollywood Star Priyanka Chopra

Bollywood Star Priyanka Chopra

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November 28, 2014   No Comments

McKinsey CEO and USIBC President Both Upbeat on India

The world’s most renowned consulting firm has large operations in India and their CEO, Dominic Barton was in Mumbai this week. Here is an excerpt from his interview with the The Economic Times.

Dominic Barton

Do you get a sense from the American business community, that it is time to bet on India again?

Yes, I do. I see it in pharmaceuticals, industrial companies and pension funds. If you look at the trends that are going on in the world, India is right at the center; like ag-food is going to be one of the biggest businesses in the world right here, healthcare boom, education boom, advanced analytics.

The paper goes to say, with the world economy on a wobbly footing again – Japan receding into recession, a stalled Europe and China slowing down – India could find itself in a sweet spot providing stability and balance to the world economy.

Diane Farrell, US-India Business Council, Acting President

Diane Farrell, US-India Business Council

During the same week, the organization of the largest American companies doing business in India, the U.S. India Business Council, sent its Acting President Diane Farrell to New Delhi. She told  NDTV in a video interview that member companies  expect to invest $40 billion into India by 2017 if things goes well. Here is a video interview of Farrell.

 

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November 27, 2014   No Comments

Expat and Local Executives Say India on Growth Track

Top Indian industry executives who spoke at an  Economic Summit held in New Delhi from November 4 – 6, 2014, welcomed the Modi government’s initiatives in land and labor reforms. Quicker approvals for business would boost manufacturing and creation of jobs they said.

The government, which came to power promising to revive the economy, has raised foreign direct investment (FDI) limits in defense, real estate and railways, and freed diesel prices. Modi is aiming to replicate at the national level his success in bringing investments to Gujarat as the state’s chief minister by easing the country’s cumbersome labor laws and cutting red tape.

“I am extremely confident. A country in general needs leadership and there is a leadership; it needs direction and there is a direction; it needs confidence and there is confidence here in India,” said Etienne Benet, head of Nestlé South Asia Region and Nestlé India.

Inflation measured in terms of wholesale price index touched a five-year low of 2.4% in September. Retail inflation has also dropped to 6.5%, the lowest since the new series was released in January 2012.

“This is a large flywheel. It is not a jump-start, it takes a while to gain momentum. I see signs that the flywheel is beginning to move,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra the Indian multinational automobile manufacturing corporation headquartered in Mumbai.

 

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November 11, 2014   No Comments

Gov. Hayley’s India Trip to Attract Jobs to U.S.A.

The newly re-elected Republican governor of South Carolina, Ms. Nikki Hayley arrives in India on November 13 on a 10-day mission involving the state’s commerce and tourism agencies. Gov. Hayley will be traveling to the Indian cities of Amritsar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Mumbai, and New Delhi hoping to persuade companies to bring jobs to S. Carolina.

Haley is also slated to attend 40 of the delegation’s 90 scheduled meetings and events. The delegation’s 18 members, which also include representatives of businesses interested in exporting to India, are splitting their time between seven cities in six states. “It’s a brutal schedule, but we’ll work hard and hopefully have something to show for it when we get back,” she said. India, an emerging market with more than 1.2 billion people, ranks 16th in capital investment in South Carolina. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, South Carolina ranks 14th nationally in total exports to India, at $352 million last year, up from $110 million in 2005.

Ms. Nimrata (Nikki) Randhawa Haley, who is the first Indian American woman to become governor of a American state has mostly downplayed her gender and Indian-American heritage publicly.  She  was born to Sikh parents but converted to Christianity and is married to Michael since 1996.

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November 11, 2014   No Comments