Will India Contest Rs 2.7 Lakh Bond Demand From Visitors To UK?
Do Tories dislike foreigners, especially from the sub-continent, and particularly from India? All the three restrictive immigration acts, in 1963, in 1971 and now were enacted during Conservative governments. In 1963, Harold Macmillan, a Tory Toff, was the prime minister, in 1971, prime minister was Edward Heath and now the government is headed by David Cameron.
A pilot scheme introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May, and to be effective from November is aimed to make visitors from “high risk” countries, that surprisingly includes India, to put up a cash bond of £3000 Rs 2.7 lakh—to enter Britain. If the visitor does not return at the end of six months, the bond will be confiscated.
The banding of India with five other countries Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, shocked the Indian government and Indians. Even NRIs were taken aback. But they should not have been taken aback. As stated above all the . restrictive immigration laws have always been enacted during the Tory rule. This is more than just coincidence. Possibly the Tories still have traces of the low opinion Winston Churchill had about Indians.
His “historic” speech while opposing independence to India was full of criticism and a very poor view of the Indian people. But few know what he said during the great famine in West Bengal. I was told that Australia and possibly New Zealand that had surplus wheat offered to send some for the starving people in West Bengal but Churchill declined. When the two countries pointed out that thousands of people were dying, Churchill allegedly said that anyway Indians produce children like rats.
The British Government explained that the six countries were picked up for their high number of visa applications and what the Government sees as relatively high levels of immigration abuse and fraud. “This is the next step in making sure our immigration system is more selective, bringing down net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands while still welcoming the brightest and the best to Britain,” Mrs May said to the press.
“In the long run we’re interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services.”
One can understand the concern the British government has about high numbers of applications for settlement. Britain is a small island and its population is increasing at a fast rate thanks to people from Pakistan, Bangladesh and a few African countries. London’s population has touched 8.3 million.
In 2012, 296,000 people from India, and they were granted six-month visas, as were 101,000 from Nigeria, 53,000 from Pakistan and 14,000 apiece from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The International Passenger Survey estimates show India as the top country for people coming to the UK with 11.9% of all immigrants. It’s followed by Pakistan, (5.8%), Poland (5.4%), Australia (5.2%) and China (5.2%).
The treatment of India on par with African countries and Pakistan and Bangladesh has perplexed a couple of NRIs who are members of Lords or Commons. Lord Navnit Dholakia, who has been in the forefront taking up causes of NRIs in particular and interest of India in general raised the issue in Lords.
During oral questions he raised concerns over the way that visas may be dealt with by the new UK Visas and Immigration department. Questioning the procedures Lord Dholakia asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): “What arrangements are in hand to review the decisions of entry clearance officers?” Noting that “in the past immigration adjudicators overturned the decisions of entry clearance officers in many cases”, Lord Dholakia queried “How do we ensure that there is no bias in the way decisions are taken, …[?] Lord Dholakia in asking this point was emphasising the problems that many families have faced when applying for a family visa.
Keith Vaz, MP from Leicester where a large population of Indians and Pakistani is settled also raised the issue in the Commons. “The Home Secretary’s plans for bonds for visitors from certain countries are unfair and discriminatory. This flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s intention to attract the brightest and best to Britain and sends out the wrong message to the countries concerned. I am worried that the plans could potentially alienate already settled communities in the UK.
“There are a number of holes in the Home Secretary’s pilot. If this is to be workable she must have a proper consultation. She said she wants to deter over-stayers, yet with the mess that is E-Borders there is currently no way to monitor if people actually leave the country. The bond level of £3000 is completely unrealistic. If somebody was determined to work here illegally this could be earned back in a matter of months.” The fact is Britain is helpless with regard to immigrants from Eastern Europe—Polish and Romanians, in particular, who came to England in hordes. They provide cheap labour, upsetting the British economy. They are spread all over Europe and have taken up varied jobs—from working in fish industry in Scotland to farming, plumbing and as house cleaners.
The authorities, although they do not speak about it, are worried about Pakistani and Bangladeshi visitors. They invariably have in Britain either a family or friends. A lot of them easily “melt” away. Some time a few are caught but quite a large number are never apprehended.
Apart from the British National Party (BNP) which is extreme right and which opposes people coming from the sub-continent, particularly Pakistanis, the UK MigrationWatch headed by Sir Andrew Green is on principle opposed to uncontrolled immigration. Sir Green said contrary to the view that they contribute a lot to improve British economy, the migrants contribute in one week merely 4p per person.
Sir Green accuses Whitehall of trying to divert attention from the problems caused by migration. But, a Home Office spokesman said there was “a clear consensus” that migrants had helped the economy to grow.
He agreed that they certainly did add to production, but they also add in virtually the same proportion to population. This is a major worry. Immigrants from the sub-continent except Indians, have been producing children without any control. The increasing population has strained public services.
The Confederation of British Industry said MigrationWatch was “seeking to score a few cheap political points”. “Migrants to the UK bring valuable skills and ideas with them and help to fill job vacancies where Britons are unable or unwilling to do so,” she said. “Their taxes help pay for our public services and our pensions, long after many migrants have returned home.
“Their presence also helps keep inflation low at a time when there are many forces pushing the other way.”
The Ernst and Young Item Club, an influential economic forecasting body that used Treasury models, estimated that immigration had brought in an extra £12bn to £18bn in tax since 1998this was the estimate made in 2004. So there is every possibility that the draft could undergo many alterations, especially because the protests over the grouping of India with those other five countries seem to be having an impact on the British. “In any case it is not justifiable.”
Of all ethnic communities Indians are far more assimilated and integrated, they do not demand any changes in British culture and social values, they are far ahead in education, earnings and they are the most law-abiding. Indians in prisons are the least in Britain. Many Indian-origin writers have either won or figured in the long and short lists of Man Booker Prize.
The number of Indians in the Sunday Times list of 1000 wealthiest, and in the first 10, beats all other ethnic community members by huge margin. Almost all households know who Tatas are.
Above all Britain can hardly annoy India, with its economy in shatters. Business with India could give some “good feel factor,” as it always has.