India losing its global presence under Modi?

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Off-late India has been losing its pride globally. Just recently, the rank of the Indian Passport fell to 90 out of 199 countries, according to Henley Passport Index. It was a huge drop from 74 in 2013, a fact that Bhakts would find hard to digest. India’s global prestige has been falling sharply under the Modi regime and given the recent protests and agitations, it does not seem to be even heading in the right direction. The current position clearly contradicts the claim of Bhakts, and the belief of supporters that after Modi became prime minister of India, her prestige has tremendously increased. Within just a year of Modi becoming prime minister of the country, the rank slipped to two places to 76 in 2014. Then the year of the worst fall in ranking came in 2015 when it slipped to 12 places to be ranked 88. It shows that the global prestige of Indian passport holders not only suffered during the entire Modi rule, but it considerably suffered during the pandemic.

The logic of the Modi government that the world was surprised at its good performance during the pandemic and vaccination of its citizens is false since the so-called praisings are not reflected in the Passport Index. This means that the Indian Passport holders are not so welcome in other countries or destinations without prior visas, as has been claimed by the Bhakts. It would be interesting to note that currently, India shares its rank with Burkina Faso and Tajikistan. The Henley Passport Index also provides a mobility score of the country’s Passports, i.e., the number of countries or destinations where the passport holders of the particular country can go without prior visas, in other words allowed visa free travels. Indian Passport holders can travel to only 58 countries or destinations as per the 2021 score. In 2013, the mobility score for India was 52, which slipped to 51 in 2015. India recovered its score of 52 in 2016, but the next year in 2017 lost three and reduced to 49. However, in 2018, India was able to achieve a score of 60 only to be reduced to 59 and 58 in 2019 and 2020 respectively, where it is stuck today.

With historical data spanning 16 years, the Henley Passport Index is the only one of its kind based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA). The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. Updated quarterly, the Henley Passport Index is considered the standard reference tool for global citizens and sovereign states when assessing where a passport ranks on the global mobility spectrum. Indian Passport has thus not become a travel-friendly passport after Modi came to power, but its travel friendly status has diminished with its rank. Japan and Singapore have ranked no.1 as per the 2021 Passport Index with a mobility score 192, while Germany and South Korea no. 2 with mobility score 190; and Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain no. 3 with mobility score 189. Many countries in the global south have relaxed their borders in a concerted effort to revive their economies but there has been very little reciprocity from countries in the global north, which have enforced some of the most stringent inbound Covid-19-related travel restrictions. Even fully vaccinated travellers from countries at the lower end of the Henley Passport Index remain locked out of most of the developed world.

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