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Is the home ministry right in stopping foreigners from journalistic activities?
The Union home ministry believes that foreigners who are visiting India on a tourist visa are involving themselves in journalistic activities by recording various events. The ministry has asked its foreign missions and states to look into the matter - especially the norms of tourist visas, which according to them cannot be used for such work.

TOURIST VISAS are primarily handed out to foreign tourists by the Indian government for recreation, sightseeing, and meeting friends relatives, etc. But should we bar tourists from capturing what's happening in public in India? Can the Indian government monitor each persons travelling in India on a tourist visa? How does the government define what is journalistic and what is not journalistic?

So a number of issues can be raised if people coming via tourist visas are not allowed to, say, send text messages, stories, and pictures. Something can be recorded and can later be sent - once the foreigner is out of the country and in another country.


Even if such measures are adopted by India, who is going to keep track of all the tourists who come to India – as to what they are doing. Will the government deploy people to keep track of each and every tourist? Practically, it is not possible.

Normally, tourists who come to India have at least a camera to record their stay in India. Some even carry their handycams and make interesting videos. There are chances that those people who come to India as tourists and take nice photos, which may find their way in one of the newspapers in some other country. In this case - how has the tourist violated a law?

These orders issued by the home ministry seem to have no logic to some extent, as they have not laid any specific regulations. India sees an influx of tourists from all around the world, from countries such as America, England, China, Japan, Israel, Dubai on an annual basis.

Granted that a tourist might have ulterior motives - terrorism, spying - but that does mean a blanket rule should be put in place. The ministry must look into the details before formulating a policy and define 'journalistic' activity in contest to foreign tourists.

 


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