The proposal to do away with the address page in passports would mean the little book will lose its pride of place as an accepted identity marker.
Many changes being considered in passports carry the bureaucratic compulsion of making the government’s job easier. While there’s no contesting the need for speed in clearing people at airports and ports, the question is whether the government is insulting poor and uneducated people going abroad to earn a living. Should their passports carry an orange colour in a quirky form of discrimination? While such a distinctive colour may indeed speed up things at busy immigration counters, the person carrying such a document may well feel inferior. It must be remembered that such people are the salt of the earth and toil overseas to send money home to support their families. Such foreign exchange inflow also represents a significant portion of the national balance of payments. Now consider if they should be discriminated against while most Indians carry blue passports.
The proposal to do away with the address page in passports would mean the little book will lose its pride of place as an accepted identity marker. This move seems to have come from the women and child development ministry and may have to do with issues of privacy and even protection of the identity of adopted children or offspring under single parent care. This might even help parents seeking discretion over travel data when they are involved in separation or divorce battles. The upholding of the right to privacy should be welcomed. But, as with all tasks handling huge numbers in India, the time taken between proposal and execution may take years. Mercifully, existing passports will remain valid until they have to be renewed.