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Friday, May 4, 2012

Some important changes in the Passport

It is still considered a ‘pride of possession’ and a document distinguishing between elite few and the ordinary others  - it is the Passport – a document issued by the Government, without which a person cannot embark on an International travel, a document certifying the identity and nationality of the holder.  The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth.  

Till a couple of decades ago, In India, only rich had them or whoever possessed one was considered rich !  - the procedures were considered cumbersome and was obtained after some difficulty of standing in winding queue after filling up pages and providing substantive documents.  It is widely accepted in all places in India as a mark of identity either for opening of bank accounts or for any other purpose.  Factually it is more of a document of identity and not a document of travel into another country  or of consular protection whilst abroad nor provide any privileges.  But without passport one cannot obtain the entry permit or visa enabling travel to a foreign country.

The Indian Passport application would bemuse one at first look requiring special skills to fill it up properly, though the requirements are lucidly explained. There are columns of
ü          Name – provision for name upto 75 character long which would include the Surname  (again lot of commotion as to what this means for Tamilians, people of other States especially those hailing from Northern States of India)
ü          If one has ever changed name, the previous name in full is to be indicated
ü          Then comes the Male / Female option followed by
ü          Date of Birth
ü          Place and country of birth (if born before partition of India at a place which now falls within Pakistan or Bangladesh, the name of place is to be filled with Country specified as ‘undivided India’)
ü          The Name of Father, Mother and Spouse are required to entered.

Then there are the requirements regarding the place of residence with details of duration in that particular place; details of Educational qualifications et. al.  (this is no post written to help one in filling up a passport application !)

In most applications there would be starred places which should compulsorily be filled up and cannot be left blank.  They are considered extremely important as the answer / details provided over there would be material to a decision being taken on that application. ‘Old order changeth, yielding place to new’ and some which are considered compulsorily required become redundant or outdated over a period of time.

For ages, the applicants had to provide details of their Mother and Father.  In fact it used to ask about the maiden name of the Mother !  There is a significant change in the requirement in UK (especially after pressure from Gay lobby) – it would no longer be Father / Mother but the option would be  :  ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’.  The change, which is due to take place within weeks, has been made following claims the original form was ‘discriminatory’ and failed to include same-sex couples looking after a child.  The new form to be introduced by December 2011 will in addition provide for “parent 1” and “parent 2”.   Campaigners for family values said the move ‘denigrated’ the roles of parents bringing up children in traditional families. There are also reports that  compulsory column ‘Sex’  would provide the option for transgender people to opt out of identifying themselves as male or female.

In tune with times, things inevitably will have to change.  It is stated that over there, Gay couples are registered as the official parents of any child they adopt. Those who use surrogate mothers must apply to the courts for a ‘parental order’ in order to be recognised as a child’s official parents.  But the Government must have proper views and stringent rules to ensure that interests of the country as a whole is at the back mind and that they do not capitulate to every demand made by a vocal and unrepresentative minority.

There also reports that Labour took an astonishingly relaxed attitude to the issuing of citizenship to foreign nationals and that lakhs of immigrants have been given passports at almost one every 3 minutes. This means that more than 1.5million foreign nationals became British citizens under Labour.  There are reports of further plans that  Home Office will abolish a rule that gives foreign workers the right to live permanently in Britain after working here for five years. Hitherto, any one who worked or lived for a period of 5 years would be allowed to settle permanently and no thought was given to whether Britain required their skills permanently, or how much they had contributed to society. Now the proposed rules state that a migrant would only be able to obtain a passport, after living legally in the UK for six years, provided they completed 50 hours of community service.

History has it that India has followed British rules and laws many a times, whether these things  impact us would be known with the passage of time

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.
3rd Oct 2011

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