It is not farfetched to refer to India as a world leader, in regards to matters relating to immigration and caring for its citizens abroad.
Earlier in 2015, the High Commission of India announced in the UK that he would be launching 14 consular service centres across country. This decision is a valiant stride towards improving an infamously arduous process for many people of Indian-origin. With 14 visa application centres opened across the UK, and operated by a first-class organisation such as VFS, people now have superb access to the full range of consular services, including Visa services, OCI and India Passport Services.
The cities of the United Kingdom, such as Leicester, Birmingham and London, constitute some of the largest Indian populations outside of the sub-continent, and there have been campaigns for full-time visa services for over a decade. The reason for this is simple. India and the United Kingdom share many special bonds, cultural, economic and historical, but the most important bond we share, is people.
The British Indian community is one of the most outstanding contributors to British society, and the centuries-long exchange between British and Indian culture has strengthened us all. For the 1.5 million people of Indian origin across the UK, travelling to their ancestral home is something which should be as accessible and easy as possible.
There have been many forthright complains by people regarding visa or passport applications in countries for countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America or Mexico. However, India is the only country which has provided such a localised, efficient service, through its partners VFS.
On the other hand, the contrast with the British government’s recent approach could not be more obvious.
These bold steps have been taken at a time when the British government is centralising global visa services, to the detriment of many thousands of applicants in Mumbai, Dhaka and South America.
The majority of visa applications submitted in Mumbai will now be decided upon in New Delhi, 850 miles away, the same distance as the entire length of the United Kingdom. However, most British Indians will not need to leave their city when making applications to go to India.
On one side, we have the UK which continues to be impolitic in cutting costs, on the other side, we have India continuing to emerge into a true cultural power in the world.
In both countries, there are widespread calls for closer relations. The proof of such efforts was symbolised by the historical unveiling of the Mahatma Gandhi statue on Parliament Square last month, attended by Prime Minister David Cameron, and the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
We should welcome such a progressive and forward thinking policy. For other countries around the globe, it may be time to sit and take lessons from the Indian government.