I recently got back from a family trip to India and it was awesome. Amongst other things, I attended my cousins wedding, checked out the Taj Mahal and ate a lot of great food. Man I wish I had a personal Indian cook.
Anyways one of the most useful documents I’ve attained in the past few years has been becoming an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). You can read the detailed benefits here. To make a long story short, its not dual citizenship (not allowed by Indian government – get to work on that!). So I can’t vote in elections in the worlds biggest democracy. However, the main benefit is multiple, lifelong visa to India. So for the Canadians out there, if you parents were once a citizen of India, then you can get it for approximately 300 CDN. Set for life. It definitely pays for itself after even 2-3 visits, since you have to pay approximately 82 CDN for tourist visa and more for a business visa.
How else did it pay for itself? Well I like to visit historical places, old forts, palaces, etc. Safdarjung’s Tomb, Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid in New Delhi, cost me mere 20 rupees each (50 cents), othervise would have been 750 rupees per monument. The Taj Mahal also costs 750 rupees each time for foreigners. I saw it twice cos of my OCI card for 20 rupees. Same thing for Fatehphur Sikri, the former Mughal capital of India. Sure its like basically 10-12 bucks/each for foreigners converted, but it adds up! And why not take advantage? Plus it led to some interesting events for instance the agents at the Taj Mahal ticket windows thought I was a government VIP. I was like “this is awesome” in my head.
And it worked in Nepal too. I had to pay 20 USD for the visa entry. But after that it was back to home town discounts. In Nepal they have special price for neighbouring South Asian nations, and so in all instances I simply said few lines in Hindi and they believed I was from India. I didn’t have to flash the card there once as my hindi had improved at that point (still working on that).
Its not just about an emotional connect either, it makes eminent business sense too. It also works as a business visa, sparing the need to obtain separate work permits. India’s growing importance as an economic destination was enough to convince me to get it.
PS: I filmed a little video while inside Shah Jahan’s old stomping grounds. I wasn’t allowed to, but they didn’t realize iphones have video capability. Enjoy!