Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bollywood and global immigration: ShahRukh Khan being “detained” by American immigration officials

A bollywood star is sent for “Secondary Inspection” by US customs and Immigration service and it becomes sensational news. What started as a news item of Mr. ShahRukh Khan being “detained” by American immigration officials turned out to be a routine secondary inspection which even seasoned business travelers, self included, routinely face. And because it was Mr. Khan who was sent for the inspection, it was not just him but fanatic bollywood fans across the globe that were indignant.

A globe trotting American Permanent Resident with an Indian passport, I have been sent for secondary inspection on more than one occasion by officials at port of entry in Canada and the US. All the time, I just shrug my shoulder at the additional scrutiny, answer the additional questions asked and walk across the borders.

While globe trotting executives have accepted this as a matter of routine, the VIPs, VVIPs, superstars seem to be peeved by the need for inspections. The debate here is not really about the right of nations to have immigration inspectors screen people crossing borders but more about the right of the Very Important Persons and celebrities to bypass checks and controls reserved for most other global citizen.

  • Should all hell break loose if a celebrity is sent for a secondary inspection? No!
  • Is this even news worthy? Not unless you happen to be Mr. Khan or his publicist
  • Should every Immigration inspector in every major country know who Mr. Shah Rukh Khan (or every other bollywood star) is? No
  • Should Superstars be accorded special status while crossing borders? Maybe (only if they are at personal security risk)
  • What about all other Very Important Persons (government officials, ministers, Corporate CxOs and everyone else). Give me a list and I will tell you?!

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