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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Anachronistic Practices

Being called a global citizen looks fanciful – and frequent fliers are seen as “those privileged” (or suffering lot depending on whom you speak to) amongst business circles. There are several unhighlighted issues that travelers come across while moving around the world. Vinnie is vocal about India’s discriminatory travel policies. I do share Vinnie’s view that this is blatant discrimination. These policies were relevant in a way till about 2/3 decades back, when the economic and political order were totally different. There is no reason today for following such an archaic regulation in what is seemingly a fair world!! With the dollar losing value against the Indian rupee, its going to pinch foreign travelers visiting india a lot harder on two counts - generally the dollar tariff also gets adjusted to exchange variations and other expenses related to travel also suffers this dollar value depreciation. This needs to be done away with no more time lost for a decision. Normally economics will dictate fair sense to prevail in a market aligned economy, but it is a situation where demand far exceeds supply. I believe that this is in a way a global phenomenon. As a global traveler, I find that the Indian hotel tariffs are definitely amongst the highest – probably in the same league as Tokyo and London and this is completely unjustifiable. Unless competitiveness sets in fairly deep – these issues tend to go unnoticed amongst the hospitality industry folks but as consumers being part of the larger ecosystem , the response is status quo is NOT OK.The problem in India is that the head is in the current century and the tail is in the previous century – there are some laws laid by the British when they ruled India in the 1800's, which are still being referred to for enforcements.

As a related point, GCC countries routinely discriminate between westerners and asians on compensation benefits. Sandy Kemsley talks about inordinate delay(8-9 working days for turnaround) in Visa processing by Indian consulate in Toronto – and the discussion is to primarily highlight scope for process improvement there. Well- Sandy agreed. All other things being equal, consulate practices are more or less reciprocal in nature. If you are an Indian citizen and resident in India, the US embassy may take upto 6-8 weeks(on an average) to even schedule an appointment for interview for processing a visit visa – add 2-3 days for further turnaround post interview. AMEX, the most talked about financial institution finds it impossible to recognize my credit history and long association I had with it outside of America when it takes for processing my credit card application while in the US.
Well regulations and processes always need to be current and fresh – these need to be aligned to modern day economic realities. Part of the job of the cognoscenti is to raise the awareness and keep pointing to such imbalances and discriminations.

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