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India Will Give Free SIM Cards to Tourists

Nowadays, our smartphones have become our constant companions. In addition to providing us the luxury to call, message and surf the Internet, they also provide us a sense of security 24x7. They become all the more important when we're in a foreign land where we may not know many people or might not even understand their language at all. The Indian tourism Ministry seems to understand this plight of the tourists, and has hence decided to give out free SIM cards to tourists on arrival in India.

The free SIM will only be made available to tourists who arrive in India using electronic tourist visas, which currently covers an impressive 150 countries.

The Indian Ministry will hand out the Welcome-to-India SIM card as a part of a welcome kit that includes maps.

With this move, the Indian Tourism Ministry is hoping to attract more tourists to the Indian subcontinent and enhance their stay and experience in the country, without worrying about running long phone bills.

Currently, the process of getting a local SIM in India may take a tourist anything between 24 hours to a week. In addition to the wait, the process is quite cumbersome. One has to submit a pile of documents to their SIM vendor in order to score a local Indian SIM. These documents include an application form for the SIM, colored passport photographs, a photocopy of the personal details page of their passport, a photocopy of the proof of their home address in their home country (passport, driver’s license or any other Government issued document would suffice), a proof of where they will be staying in India and a photocopy of their Indian visa. Once all the documents are duly submitted, they are "verified" and you're handed over a SIM along with a 10-digit Indian mobile number. According to paper, the number should be operational within 24 hours of the purchase, but unfortunately, that is often not the case.

Some of the things that might not seem so much welcoming to the tourists in these Welcome-to-India SIM cards is the fact that they will be valid for 30 days only. Though they will come with pre-loaded talk time and data, they won't offer international roaming facility. This means, in order to make a call to their home country, they will have to make use of their home number.

India's tourism minister Mahesh Sharma has confirmed that the Indian Home Ministry has already given its nod to the project and the work on the project has already started. Sharma is hoping that the initiative could be launched on September 27, on the occasion of United Nation's World Tourism Day.

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