A passport to corruption

A passport to corruption

India’s complex mesh of rules on outbound travel are an example of a bigger problem—statist meddling that leads to inefficiency, corruption and harassment of ordinary citizens.

Vayalar Ravi, the minister for overseas Indian affairs, told Parliament on Thursday that one such rule imposed hidden costs of Rs600 crore last year on citizens.

Those who are going abroad to work need to get their passports stamped by an agency that is grandly called protector of emigrants. This is the emigration clearance required (ECR) stamp. Those with ECR passports who are not going abroad to seek work also have to get special clearance from the agency, even though there is no such requirement in India’s emigration law.

The minister has rightly denounced this as a tax on passport holders and a mode of corruption. Obviously, the licence permit raj still thrives in unexpected places. Citizens could do with more delicensing as well.