One of the initiatives discussed for a couple of years now has been the participation of India in the Global Entry program of the US Customs & Border Protection. This finally seems to become a reality, perhaps if the news is to be believed. From India Today:
“We are preparing a list of frequent travellers who can be part of this. Initially we will include about 2000 individuals but once we have a robust system in place to carry out background checks, the numbers will increase,” said a government official.
Don’t get too excited to start with however, because in typical Indian bureaucracy style, India wants to take a small list of 2000 people first, and see how it goes. So, the first list will be of 2,000 celebrities, movie blokes and high-flying businessmen, and they get this privilege first. As per the Indian Express:
Around 2,000 Indians will initially be on the list for the programme. These will be persons who are frequent travellers and whose details the government can vouch for after thorough verification that there are no criminal cases or economic offences registered against them and that they are of sound financial position. US agencies will carry out their own background checks
Now, my only worry is that this does not become an elite club and the next DYKWIA, considering I read about the pedestrian numbers and the bureaucratic vetting process that the Indian Government is talking about:
Anyone can apply for the facility online, but the government will exercise its discretion. Once they are on a common database accessible by the two countries, members will be given a card that they can swipe at e-gates at US airports to avoid standing in long immigration queues. We are currently working out modalities such as the periodicity of regular checks that have to be carried out and the agency that will execute the programme.
Another quote says:
This list may extend to 15,000 persons in due course for which the US government has already given the nod but the Indian government wants to go slow and see how it works, sources said.
With headlines such as Americans to welcome these 2,000 Indians as VVIPs, I clearly see the media and the ministry does not understand the Global Entry program well enough to make such a big deal out of it.
Also, with the Indian Prime Minister visiting the United States right now, do you think we get an announcement on this anytime soon?
What do you think will we make out of this? A blunder in execution or the real stuff, which is, the right people getting Global Entry authorisation, i.e., anyone who does not have an incriminating past.