Apply for India eVisa

India Visa Policy Changes on a French Journalist's Life

India Visa Policy Changes on a French Journalist's Life

In recent events that have drawn international attention, India's stringent visa policies have been scrutinised. Among those affected is Vanessa Dougnac, a French journalist whose longstanding ties to India were abruptly severed. This development not only casts a shadow over the lives of many foreign nationals with Indian roots but also signals a worrying trend in the country's approach to freedom of speech and the press. In this comprehensive analysis, we delve into the implications of these policies, the personal stories they've disrupted, and the broader consequences for global democracy.

A Home Far Away from Home

Vanessa Dougnac, 51, epitomises the dream of a global citizen. Having spent nearly 25 years in New Delhi, India has been more than just a place of residence for Dougnac; it's been her home, workplace, and the backdrop to her family life. Her journey, marked by a deep commitment to journalism and an equally profound integration into the Indian way of life, has faced an unexpected roadblock. The cancellation of her visa and residence permit starkly highlights the personal toll of India's tightening grip on citizenship laws.

Journalism in the Crosshairs

Dougnac's career as a freelance journalist, spanning over two decades, has seen her traverse the length and breadth of India, bringing stories of its people, culture, and issues to the global stage. However, her professional endeavours have hit a significant roadblock. The denial of her journalist permit by the Indian authorities in September 2022, coupled with the revocation of her OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card, has not only impeded her work but has also stripped her of her rights to reside in the country she calls home.

The OCI Dilemma

The Overseas Citizens of India card, a linchpin in the lives of nearly four million people, symbolises a bridge between India and its vast diaspora. Offering various rights, including visa-free travel and residence, the OCI card is crucial for many individuals of Indian descent and their spouses worldwide. Yet, the tightening regulations and the government's stringent stance on controversial activities, such as journalism and research, have put many OCI cardholders in a precarious position.

A Policy of Exclusion?

At the heart of this issue is a broader debate about India's evolving citizenship laws under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration. Critics argue that these changes reflect a shift towards a Hindu-nationalist agenda, potentially undermining the secular and democratic foundations of the country. The Dougnac case highlights the conflict between the government's attempts to control its international image and the fundamental freedoms of press and expression. Dougnac is accused of creating "malicious" content against India. 

The Human Cost of Policy Changes

Beyond the headlines and policy papers, revoking visas and OCI cards bears a profoundly personal impact. For individuals like Dougnac, it signifies a rupture in their personal and professional lives, casting them into a limbo of uncertainty. The accounts of impacted individuals illustrate the human cost of these policy changes, emphasising the hardships of uprooted lives, interrupted careers, and the quest for identity.

Navigating the Future

As India continues to redefine its relationship with its diaspora and the global community, the implications of its visa and citizenship policies warrant scrutiny. Vanessa Dougnac's story is a poignant reminder of the careful balancing act between the needs of national security and the principles of freedom and democracy. As the world watches, the unfolding narrative will undoubtedly shape the discourse on citizenship, rights, and the essence of democracy in an increasingly interconnected world.

In Conclusion: A Call for Dialogue

The revocation of Vanessa Dougnac's visa and OCI card is more than an isolated incident; it reflects broader policy trends that affect countless lives. It raises pressing questions about the future of India's democratic values, the role of journalism in society, and the rights of global citizens. As we ponder these issues, engaging in a constructive dialogue is crucial, recognising the complexities of governance while upholding the principles that define open, democratic societies.


How have India's visa policy changes impacted foreign nationals with Indian roots?

The tightening of visa policies in India, particularly around the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card, has significantly impacted foreign nationals with Indian roots. These changes have increased scrutiny and restrictions on journalism and research, affecting their ability to work, reside, and travel in India.

What are the implications of these policy changes for global democracy and freedom of speech?

The policy changes reflect a concerning trend toward limiting freedom of speech and the press, potentially undermining the democratic values of openness and debate. This has broader implications for global democracy, signalling a move towards more authoritarian governance styles that could influence other nations.

How does the OCI card function, and why is it important?

The OCI card serves as a form of identification for foreign nationals of Indian descent, granting them various rights such as visa-free travel and the ability to live and work in India. It symbolises India's attempt to maintain a connection with its diaspora, making its revocation a significant loss for those affected.

What are the broader debates surrounding India's citizenship laws under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration?

The debates centre on the modifications to India's citizenship laws, which critics argue represent a shift towards a Hindu-nationalist agenda. This shift has raised concerns about the undermining of secular and democratic principles in India, as well as the nation's tolerance for dissent and minority religions.