New Delhi: It is prudent that the Union Home Ministry has expressed reservations over the Tourism Ministry’s plan to extend the tourist visa-on-arrival facility to China citing security concerns.
In our rush to seem magnanimous we can ill afford to ignore the fact that China had inflicted upon us the hostilities of 1962 and that there is a long-standing border dispute between our two countries which shows no signs of getting resolved.
Much though there is a degree of interdependence between the two countries on economic issues, it can hardly be overlooked that China has deep-rooted defence co-operation with Pakistan that is inimical to Indian interests.
The Chinese have been going so far as to object to the visit of our Ministers to Arunachal Pradesh, claiming that that is Chinese territory.
Truly, the extension of visa-on-arrival policy to a growing number of countries has boosted tourist arrivals in the country. Fuelled by it, tourist arrivals in 2015 are expected to be 7.5 per cent higher over the previous year.
But the Home Ministry’s concerns that security considerations need to be factored in are not without basis. Only after a clearance from intelligence must the Tourism Ministry go ahead with extending the facility to individual countries.
We certainly need to cultivate China for mutual benefit. Trade between the two countries has zoomed in recent years and there is hope of a fresh inflow of Chinese capital into the country. But we need not go out of our way to extend facilities to China which that country does not extend to us. Co-operation on a basis of reciprocity would be a sound principle.
It is heartening that Prime Minister Modi is due to visit China in May. Not only must we iron out border differences to the extent possible but we must pitch for Chinese investment in a major way.
But all said and done, we cannot ignore security considerations for anything.