Passport power: Indian passport and Indian tricolor from Khadi
According to the Passport Index, a real-time interactive ranking tool by Arton Capital, Indians can travel visa-free to 22 countries ( Table 1). Three of these countries (Nepal, Bhutan and Mauritius) are in the vicinity. The list includes some Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago alongside two Latin American countries (El Salvador and Haiti). Three of the countries are located in the Pacific Islands – Micronesia, Vanuatu and Fiji (with a high proportion of citizens of Indian origin), while two African countries offer this opportunity (Gambia and Senegal). Only one European country – Serbia – allows visa-free travel for Indians.
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According to the index, in 2022 India ranked 69th in terms of ease of mobility when traveling to other countries. This ease of travel has been measured in terms of the availability of visa-free regimes or visas on arrival for Indians in other countries.
While India improved marginally in the index (its rank rose four places from 73 in 2021), it still ranked behind many Asian and developing countries. Countries like South Africa (46th), China (59th), Brazil (11th) and Russia (37th) rank higher, while India performs better compared to other South Asian countries. Largely populated by immigrants, the UAE was ranked number 1, followed by European and other developed countries. South Korea (joint 2nd place) and Japan (4th place) ranked best among Asian countries.
More than 9.58 million passports have been issued in India as of December 8, 2022, according to a response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lok Sabha. This equates to nearly 7% of India’s projected population in 2022.
A state separation ( Diagram 2) shows that Kerala had both the highest number (nearly 1.13 million) and highest proportion (estimated at 31.6% of the state’s population) of passport holders in the country. This is not surprising since Kerala is one of the states that has a high foreign population and also relies heavily on remittances (10.2% of all incoming remittances to India went to FY21, according to a recent bulletin from the Reserve Bank of India the state ). Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu ranked second and third in terms of the absolute number of passes. Tamil Nadu was ranked higher than Maharashtra (12.7% vs. 8.4%) in estimated proportion of the population holding a passport.
Kerala again took first place in terms of population holding passports. Among the major states and union territories, Punjab (25.3%), Delhi (18.6%), Telangana (13.2%) and Tamil Nadu (12.7%) followed. Goa was ranked first among the smaller states (29.4%). Kerala was also ranked first in the metric of non-renewed passports (more than 10 lakh), followed by Tamil Nadu (8.84 lakh), Karnataka (7.73 lakh) and Maharashtra (6.49 lakh).
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Among the districts ( Diagram 3), Mumbai had the highest total number of passports issued (35.56.067), followed by Bengaluru (34.63.405), Malappuram (19.32.622), Chennai (18.85.855), Hyderabad (18.06.329), Ahmedabad (14, 95.009) and Pune (14.52.236). While the estimated population of the district is difficult to ascertain as the 2021 census has not yet started, based on the Aadhaar saturation data, the projected population of the district shows that the estimated proportion of the population in Malappuram with passports is among the nearly 47.1 % could be highest in the country.
Each circle represents a district in a state/union territory. Hover over the chart to see the exact number of passports issued in a district
Source: www.passportindex.org, questions from Lok Sabha (Foreign Ministry)
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