What it means for India after it slips to 90th rank on ‘world’s powerful passports’ list

The Henley Passport Index placed Japan and Singapore at the top of the rankings, with their passport owners being allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries

India India held the 90th position with its passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 58 countries. AFP

“Narendra Modi has enhanced the value of India’s passport, which is an honour for the country,” said Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday while addressing a conference titled Delivering Democracy: Reviewing two decades of Narendra Modi as head of government.

However, according to Henley Passport Index 2021, a report by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners, the nation’s rank fell by eight positions from 82 in 2020 to 90 in 2021. In fact, a look at the rankings from 2014 shows that India slipped 14 places since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power — from 76th in 2014 to 90th in 2021.

As India slips on this index, here’s a look at how this is measured and what it means for India.

Passports ranked

Each year, the Henley Passport Index is released and shows which country’s passport is most powerful.

According to the 2021 index, Japan and Singapore rank first with their passport holders being allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries. Japan secured the top position for the third year in a row.

South Korea and Germany were ranked second with their passport owners being able to travel visa-free to 190 countries.

As per the index, India held the 90th position with its passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 58 countries. India shared this rank with two other countries — Burkina Faso and Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, the passports of Afghanistan and Iraq were ranked the lowest.

Five most powerful passports:
1. Japan, Singapore
2. Germany, South Korea
3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain
4. Austria, Denmark
5. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden

Five least powerful passports:
1. Afghanistan, Iraq
2. Syria
3. Pakistan
4. Yemen
5. Somalia

How is this measured?

The index, which covers 227 countries, is calculated on the basis of the data provided by the International Air Transport Association.

The Henley Passport Index is one of the most reliable indexes and the research team, according to its website, uses publicly available and reliable online sources to cross-check each passport against all 227 possible travel destinations. This research process is ongoing throughout the year. It is coupled with a rigorous monitoring system to pick up relevant visa-policy shifts.

The report says that for each travel destination, if no visa is required for passport holders from a country or territory, then a score with value = 1 is created for that passport.

On the other hand, where a visa is required, or where a passport holder has to obtain a government-approved electronic visa (e-Visa) before departure, a score with value = one is assigned.

Why does it matter to India?

If you look at the rankings, very simply it is clear that holding an Indian passport does make travel a bit more difficult, as one needs to avail of a visa for most other countries.

Moreover, it also is a reflection of the country’s position on the global map and also of the nation’s diplomatic efforts.

The results from the Henley Passport Index also provides a clear picture of how we are able to move or are confined to immobility, starkly highlighting the growing gap in travel freedom.

The Indian passport has thus not become a travel-friendly passport.

However, the Henley Index states that APAC countries, which are recovering better from the COVID-19 pandemic, will have more powerful passports in the future.

With inputs from agencies

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