By Gyan Pathak
Contrary to the claim of Modi fan club, India’s global prestige has been falling sharply. Even the rank of Indian Passport fell from 74 in 2013 to 90 in 2021 out of 199 countries, according to Henley Passport Index. The slippage of its rank was 16 places during Modi’s regime. It clearly contradicts the claim of the members of Modi fan club, and belief of supporters that after Modi became prime minister of India, India’s prestige has tremendously increased, since he has made the country a ‘global player now’.
Within one year of Narendra Modi’s becoming prime minister of the country, the rank slipped to two places in 2014 to 76. Then the year of the worst fall in ranking came in 2015, when it slipped to 12 places to be ranked 88. I little improvement was registered in 2016 and 2017 when the ranks were 85 and 87, much lower than the year before he became prime minister of India. Recovery was sharp in 2018 and the country was ranked 81, though seven places below 2013. The ranks in 2019 and 2020 remained at 82 which sharply fell in 2021 to eight places to be ranked at 90 and a time when the world is opening up for international travel after the containment measures and lockdowns of the last two years of the pandemic. 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 and they are all praise for Modi is false, since the so called praisings are not reflected in the Passport Index, which actually devalued its rank. It means Indian Passport holders are not so welcome in other countries or destinations without prior visas, as has been claimed by the Modi fan club that Indian’s prestige has been increased. Presently, India shares its rank with Burkina Faso and Tajikistan.
The Henley Passport Index also provides mobility score of the country’s Passports, ie, 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 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 2021 Passport Index with 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.
Australia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia score between 187 and 183 in mobility index and occupy the ranks between top 4 and 10.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestinian Territory Nepal, North Korea, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Libya, Iran, Lebanon, Sri Lank and Sudan are ranking from the bottom ten with mobility score ranging from 26 to 41.
It goes without saying that India’s performance in this regard has been dismal in enhancing the prestige of Indian Passport holders.
The index has been prepared by Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm. It claims to be the “original ranking of all the world’s passports”.
The Global Mobility report says that the global mobility gap is at its widest point ever and continues to expand due to proliferating barriers to entry erected since the outbreak of the pandemic. 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. (IPA Service)