Millennium Post

Britain and its visa flip-flops

It seems if spring is in the American air, can Britain be far behind in claiming it as well, wintery chill notwithstanding? Skewed, as this observation might seem to be, it applies perfectly to the United Kingdom’s innumerable see-saws over the controversial and rather racist visa bond regime, especially targeting South Asians and some African nations, including India. With the Conservative government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, rescinding its four-month back half-baked verdict to issue a hefty GBP 3,000 (about Rs three lakhs, in current exchange value) fee to Indians living in Britain as assurance money if they want to call over their relatives, it seemed that the UK has given India the best Diwali gift ever. Of course, it is a big victory for India, since the extremely uncharitable norm would have caused not just enormous damage to our bilateral relations, but also would have set back massively the Indian investment interests in UK, already a formidable sector on its own. Moreover, the visa bond regime would have affected Britain’s own tourism industry terribly, since a substantial chunk of the visitors in UK come from the subcontinent, particularly India. Naturally, scrapping the debatable proposal is a proof of India’s growing international clout, which is slow and steady without being overly abrasive like that of some other global powers.

Clearly, singling out six countries to impose the absolutely discriminatory visa bond rule would have caused Britain a huge embarrassment, even though it was directed at the predominantly white voters who have traditionally voted for the Tories. Evidently, Britain’s, especially London’s, demographic composition is changing and a more cosmopolitan populace, with a strong South Asian and African presence, ensures that such rabid norms don’t see the light of the day. However, merely enraging a section of the people had never stopped the UK from issuing controversial orders, although it has improved significantly as far as race relations are concerned. Nevertheless, with David Cameron following in the footsteps of Barack Obama and celebrating Diwali, the verdict is out in the open. Evidently, Britain has been caught in the wrong foot again.
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