New Delhi miffed as Iran asks India Inc visitors for HIV, Hepatitis, TB tests

AIDSIran wants a high-level business delegation from India to test for HIV before issuing visas. (Thinkstock)

Iran wants a high-level business delegation from India to test for HIV before issuing visas, angering New Delhi as such a demand is seen as discriminatory and politically incorrect.

Most countries have done away with this requirement and India too ended mandatory HIV testing for visa applicants more than a decade ago.

The 97-member delegation has been put together by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and has 68 executive director-rank officials from firms such as Oswal, Metro Tyres, Luminous Power, Kohinoor Foods, and RP Goenka.

The group is scheduled to visit Tehran from December 15 to 17 to showcase Indian products and for a buyer-seller meet in Isfahan on December 19 on the invitation of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and Iran Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the delegation have also been asked to test for Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis, all for the first time, sources said, forcing New Delhi to raise the issue through diplomatic channels with Iranian authorities.

The Indian government, through a November 22, 2002 order, had announced a change in policy, ending all mandatory HIV testing for foreign-born residents and visa applicants, including foreign students.

While no specific reason has been given for this move by Iran, India sees this as barriers being created and considers it a worrying sign. New Delhi feels that hurdles such as these are indicative of why business ties don't seem to take off despite the best of intentions.

The main objective of the delegation is to increase India's exports to Iran, which registered a fall of 3.77 per cent during 2011-12, mainly due to problems with banking channels. Although latest figures are not available, they are expected to have dipped further.

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