[Image courtesy: http://indiatoday.intoday.in]
I remember the time I landed in Sri Lanka, my very first international trip. We went through towards Immigration, where after checking our passports, while handing it back we got a small package as well. When we got out we opened it to discover it was a Local SIM preloaded with 100LKR [Sri Lankan money].
It really did make a difference, especially since I was travelling abroad for the 1st time and was unsure of what the process to procure a local SIM was. The trip was for 6days and while most hotels had free Wi-fi, what about when we were outside, wandering about. How does one keep in touch with their family or fellow travellers? I had activated roaming on my phone, but knew that was bound to be super expensive and I had told myself and the family I would ping once in a while or best would be leave them an email when I could.
On the other hand, when I landed in Bangkok, it was all hell break loose. Had a tough time figuring out where to go to buy a local SIM, the lady at the counter knew not a word of english, I did not understand the prepaid Plan and well, just picked up one and hoped it worked for the duration of the trip...
Today morning woke up to news that the government will now issue pre-activated, free SIM cards to those visiting the country on e-visa. .. Yay!! Such a brilliant initiative... Admit it, we all need our phones all the time- either to check maps or stay in touch with friends/family, obtain information off the internet, download ticket from emails and so on.
The SIM cards will initially be provided to all foreign tourists arriving at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. It will then be extended to 15 other airports in the country that have provisions for e-visas. As of today, about 161 countries have the option of obtaining e-visa when travelling to India.
This initiative has been launched in association with BSNL, who will be providing SIM cards with a preloaded talktime of Rs 50 and 50 MB data for data/internet on the phone. The personnel at the counter will collect a copy of the e-visa and the first page of the passport before providing the SIM card.
BSNL is intact one of the few service providers who offers connectivity in every nook and corner without any hassle. This is going to make travelling within the country easy for foreign travellers, especially those travelling for long periods of time.