India: One Foot In, One Foot Out of the Modern World

I just filled out a tourist visa application for one of my kids going to India.  I found it intriguing that on the one hand:

  • If you are a student, you had to give employment information on your source of support, but the only options were spouse and father.  No option for mother's occupation
  • You had to specify a religion -- no option for "atheist" or "none" or "none of your freaking business"

On the other hand:

  • There was a gender option for "transgender".

Anyway, the Indian online visa process had the Italians beaten hands down.  Actually the Chinese beat the Italians as well.  And, everyone I know who is not American tells me the US is the worst about visas.


  1. ErikEssig:

    Of course if someone is planning on overstaying the visa, the clumsy US process is worth it.

  2. xtmar:

    What are you doing in Italy that needs a visa? Most short term stays in the EU are visa free for US citizens, last I checked.

  3. Nimrod:

    Well, they're correct not to have "none" on there because everyone is following some set of beliefs that are effectively the same as a religion (as they are based on socialization rather than empiricism), and they're correct not to have "atheism" on there since that's not a religion but rather a specific religious/philosophical position that doesn't explicitly state any other beliefs.

    But if they don't have an "other" option on there then they're going to need a lot more options.

  4. Chris Smith:

    Transgendered is there because of the Hijra.

  5. blackbellamy:

    They have an OTHERS option. You seem to define "living in a society" as "religion" which is a very unique way to define religion. So unique that I never heard of it before - I fear it might be particular to you and thus not very useful.

  6. Nimrod:

    It is useful if it gets people to understand that they can't claim to be "rational" and "scientific" simply by denying affiliation with all traditional religion. I'm trying to expose a lie that people have fallen for.

    Most likely what you've heard is "religion" defined purely in terms of whether a belief system defines its positions in reference to "God", however this distinction is only useful for creating propaganda in favor of de facto religious movements (such as Maoism) that preach intolerance of all other religions. Like Orwellian newspeak, if you can just control the definition of "religion" then you can dupe people into believing that they're not really following a religion and thus must be perfectly rational "scientific" realists!

    The fact is that nobody can really be a radical empiricist because there's not enough information, time, or processing power in the brain to do so. People are going to end up inheriting beliefs from their environment, and even people with a belief in the philosophy of science (whether at a "folk" or formalized level) aren't going to question most of them because they aren't even aware of what they are (they're underlying assumptions). Some of these beliefs will be false and many will at least be non-optimal in many ways.

    So my point is that everyone has inherited beliefs from culture and religion even if they aren't going to church or otherwise actively reinforcing them. The real issue is, are you aware that these beliefs have effects? Do you even know what you're assuming? And do you see any point in questioning anything? Do you know what traditional religion some of them originated from?

    I do agree that my definition isn't very useful for propagandists who just want to dupe anti-religious people in order to control them. But it is useful for anyone who has come to the conclusion that tradition isn't automatically stupid.

  7. WillusM:

    As a US citizen, I can't comment personally on the US Visa process. I can say that otherwise, Russia is the absolute worst in my experience, and I've heard the same from my visa/passport agent.

    I don't remember all the details, but last time I went through their ringer it was something like this: fill out an insanely detailed application through an infuriatingly slow and unreliable web interface, obtain application number. Print a copy of said application, sign, and physically present it at the embassy (when you can get an appointment, some weeks later). Application is rejected the first (and second) time as a matter of routine. If more than a couple weeks have elapsed since you completed your application, you start again at the website from scratch! Repeat. Repeat. Now you have an entry visa!

    Enjoy your trip, but don't overstay, or you risk experiencing the "exit visa" process...

  8. enoriverbend:

    At least he's getting a tourist visa. Business visas for India are expensive, the paperwork worse, and the process can be very slow. (So slow that paying for an expediter service may be a reasonable proposition.)