Letters to the editor

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Published: August 6, 2015 12:36:19 AM

Getting Russian visa no hassle

Getting Russian visa no hassle

The Russian Embassy is rather disappointed by the article “Visa Power” (The Financial Express, August 2). We least expected to come across false allegations regarding Russian visa rules on the pages of your respected newspaper.

Russia, like a few other countries, grants Indian citizens visas on the basis of three documents: the passport, the application form and invitation.

The online visa application form contains only 21 questions and asks neither for the history of travel nor for the particulars of the applicant’s ancestors—that some governments find intriguing enough to inquire—though the article reports otherwise. The applicant is not expected to scan and upload his passport or photograph. The embassy, in most cases, treats a letter from the receiving Russian party—whether it comes by fax, email or is delivered by hand—as an invitation, in accordance with the Russian-Indian Bilateral Agreement on simplifying of visa procedures, 2010.

We would like to point out that this can be easily found online by even a layperson, leave alone a journalist. The cost of the visa and the processing time is defined by the principle of reciprocity. Russian visa can be applied for well in advance, a year ahead of the planned journey, should one find it desirable. An urgent visa is issued on the same day upon filing of the necessary documents.

Taking into consideration the travellers’ convenience, four Russian visa centres were opened last year in India to eliminate the tiresome wait at the overworked consular sections. The applications are now accepted in the business districts of New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

As a result, the number of Russian visas granted to Indian citizens in 2015 has risen 60% as compared with the corresponding period last year. To feel the difference, the author of the article should drop in at the Chanakyapuri diplomatic enclave any time between 6 and 11 a.m. on a weekday and see for himself/herself which embassies keep applicants waiting in the rain and toasting in the sun. Unlike some countries that are infamous for harassing travellers for minor visa violations with morally and financially exhausting “exit permit” procedures, Russian deportation rules allow separating the husk from the grain.

The few malicious infringers and the mass of victims of unfortunate circumstances are approached differently, in the sense that the the latter are allowed through a seamless process to return home. In case of repeated and severe violation, the consequences entail a financial penalty and a swift deportation. Russia and India enjoy Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership and historically share the Atithi Devo Bhava attitude towards each other. Hence, such misinformation as carried in your pages is absolutely unacceptable for the two countries’ smooth relations.

Tanya Kopylova (Press Attaché, Embassy of the Russian Federation)

Develop storage for solar power

Apropos of “Getting wind energy to work” (August 3), realising rather late in the day the primacy of renewable energy, we can nevertheless make up for it by initiating efforts on its storage as well. Solar, wind and other new energies suffer from the drawback of our limited ability to store the electricity they generate since even the most promising can only produce power on an intermittent basis. To date, no technology has proven cheap and viable to cater the massive requirement in the scale of storage. An array of innovations for bringing batteries for larger scale storage are on. Some are old technologies with revamped components such as large advanced lead-acid batteries, some the new breed of lithium-ion ones and others; more recent battery technologies such as flow batteries, metal-air batteries and sodium-nickel chloride are also there. The government must help integrate renewable energy capacity with new storage technologies that can trigger a surge in renewable power. This alone would dictate the future rate of progress of renewable energy exploitation by India. It should be made part of the national missions on renewable energy.

R Narayanan, Ghaziabad

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