June 1st, 2008
Outsourcing of Visa applications
As a major step towards upgrading visa services, the High Commission of India, London, and the Consulates General of India in Birmingham and Edinburgh would be outsourcing the collection of visa applications and their delivery from the end of May 2008-beginning of June 2008 (for exact dates, please see below).
Since 2002, there has been a rapid expansion in the number of British nationals going to India for tourism, business, etc. In fact, the numbers of visas issued have almost doubled during this period.
This has been a reflection of the growing Indo-British ties in all spheres of life. This has also been facilitated by the spurt in the number of Airline flights between India and the U.K. Given the constraints of space and manpower, it was found that the High Commission and the Consulates General were unable to provide the environment for high quality services that they would have liked to provide. This was despite the fact that visas continued to be issued on the same day in most cases.
This matter had been engaging the attention of the concerned authorities in India for quite some time.
It was, therefore, decided to outsource the collection and delivery process while the processing of visa applications including the decision to grant a visa or otherwise would continue to remain with the High Commission/Consulates General.
VF Services (UK) Limited has been selected as the agency that would implement the visa outsourcing throughout the U.K. for Indian visas. The firm has considerable experience in handling visa applications.
At present it is handling visa applications for 21 countries, which include the U.S.A., U.K., Canada, Australia, U.A.E, Thailand and Schengen nations. It has a modern IT driven on-line application and tracking system and is expected to provide value-added services.
To ensure a smooth transfer of acceptance of visa applications and their delivery from the High Commission/Consulates General to VF Services (UK) Ltd., the outsourcing operations will be implemented in a phased manner.
In the first phase, commencing May 29, 2008, two Indian Visa Application Centres (IVACs) will begin operations in London.
In the second phase, beginning a week later, an IVAC will become operational in Birmingham.
In the third phase, a third IVAC in London and another one in Edinburgh will also get operational.
The VF Services (UK) Ltd. IVACs in London for accepting visa applications and return of documents in the first phase will be located at the following places:
- 60-62 Wilton Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1DE, and 142-148 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7DU.
- Visa applications can be submitted at the IVACS from 0830 hrs. to 1430 hrs. and documents can be collected from 1100 hrs. to 1600 hrs. on all working days (Monday to Friday).
- A service-fee of GB Pounds - 06.90 plus prevailing VAT charges @17.5 percent per application will be charged by VF Services (UK) Ltd. over and above the normal visa fee of the High Commission.
- Postal/courier/bank/agency charges, wherever applicable, will be additional, to be borne by the applicant.
IVACS will provide following services:
- Online application/payment module;
- postal applications;
- flexible mode of payments - cash, credit and debit cards, and postal orders (bank/agency charges wherever applicable); online tracking system to know status of visa-applications;
- telephonic and e-mail enquiry system;
- dedicated counters for registered travel agents, individual logins and passwords.
With the commencement of the IVACs in London, all visa applicants should submit their applications to either of the VF Services (UK) Ltd. offices at London (60- 62 Wilton Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1DE; 142-148 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7DU).
The Consulates General of India Birmingham and Edinburgh would continue to accept visa applications including postal applications till Indian Visa Application Centres become operational there.
List of Counties that fall under the jurisdiction of CGI, Birmingham are:
Birmingham, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Durham, Humberside, Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Midlands (West), Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Tyne & Wear, Warwickshire, Yorkshire (North), Yorkshire (South) and Yorkshire (West).
The list of Counties that fall under the jurisdiction of CGI, Edinburgh are Edinburgh and the whole of Scotland.
All postal applications, other than falling under jurisdiction of Consulates General of India, Birmingham and Edinburgh and complete in all respects, should with effect from May 29, 2008, be addressed to VF Services (UK) Ltd. at their address 142-148 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7DU.
The registered travel/visa agents should submit their applications at 142-148 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7DU - with effect from May 29, 2008.
The procedure for submitting visa applications to VF Services (UK) Ltd. may be checked on their website http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk .
India aims record steel output
India's annual steel production will touch 124 million tonnes by 2012 with a planned investment of Rs. 2.76 trillion ($64.46 billion), up from 109.17 million tonnes in 2007-08, Minister of Steel Ram Vilas Paswan said in New Delhi recently. Paswan released his Ministry's four-year report card 'Forging New Frontiers', detailing the head-way made by the steel industry in the four years of the United Progressive Alliance rule.
He said the country's crude steel production was growing over 10 percent annually from 34.71 million tonnes in 2002-03 to 53.90 million tonnes in 2007-08.
"The production of finished steel went up to 55.27 million tonnes in 2007-08 against 40.71 million tonnes in 2003-04," he said, adding that the total investment in steel sector would go up to $203 billion in 2020.
The state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited's (SAIL) proposed Rs.540 billion expansion plan is expected to boost its production capacity to 26.2 million tonnes by 2010 and 60 million tonnes in 2019-20.
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Allocation for e-governance
The Centre has allocated Rs. 400 billion for implementation of e-governance across the country, IT and communication Minister A. Raja said recently in Chennai.
"Out of the Rs. 400 billion, Rs. 60 billion would be spent by the Information and Technology Ministry while the remaining would be from other departments," Raja said. Under the scheme, to be launched in all the village panchayats shortly, 100,000 common service centres (CSC) would be set up for the benefit of the common man, he said.
The project would enable people to record revenue registry, obtain ration cards, community certificates and other essential documents through the CSCs, Raja said, adding that taluk, panchayat union and state headquarters would be computerised through this scheme. He said that if the IT industry were to support R&D to help develop commercial products, the government could provide financial support up to twice the amount provided by industry under the 'Multiplier Grant Scheme'.
Infrastructure growth at 9.6%
The infrastructure sector comprising six core industries grew at 9.6 percent in 2008 fiscal, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Barring cement and finished steel, the other industries - crude oil, petroleum refinery products, coal and electricity - registered a decline in growth in 2008. The infrastructure sector grew at 10.5 percent in the same period in 2007.
Reacting to the figures, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said the spurt in the steel and cement production among the core sectors would help stabilise the current spurt in the prices of these items.
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