Colombo, March 21, 2011
The Indian High Commission in Colombo announced that visa applications by visitors to India could be made online from March 25, 2011, providing a user friendly service to local nationals.
Analysts here said that it is yet another attempt by India at competing with China to lure Sri Lanka.
The statement by the High Commission said, ‘the new procedure will enable visa applicants to apply online from the comfort of homes, offices and cyber cafes'.
Analysts point out that India's four visa offices in four corners in the tiny island are far more excessive than necessary.
Indian visa offices have been set up in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and at the Consulate General of India in Hambantota.
China getting closer to Sri Lanka, which is strategically located across the Palk Strait merely 33 miles (53km) off the sub-continent, is viewed by India with irritation, analysts say.
Expansion of China's activities in and around South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Philippines could pose both economic and security threat to India, they point out.
China has already set up naval bases in Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Analysts further point to the fact that the construction of the mega project of the Hambantota International Port in Sri Lanka at the cost of a staggering $500 million has been undertaken by two Chinese bodies, China Harbor Engineering Company and Sinohydro Corporation.
The Chinese workforce involved in the construction work and the presence of Chinese nationals in vast numbers in the island have aroused India's suspicion, analysts say.