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JASVINDER SINGH OSAN, ENGINEER:

Feared his Sikh looks could arouse suspicion in US
Not many globe-trotting Sikhs, however, buy the argument that a new appearance raises the comfort level. "Security checks at the airports are stricter but it is wrong to say that Sikhs are more vulnerable because of their appearance," says Jagjot Singh, a frequent-flier based in New Delhi.

Passport authorities are cautious in issuing new passports-there will be a fresh police verification if there is a considerable difference in appearance
-since changing the looks is an old trick to get a new passport in place of the one bearing visa rejection stamps.
In a state where the lust for foreign lands has fuelled a Rs 500-crore immigration racket,
people are taken in by claims of travel agents that a shaven face will help a Sikh escape detection by foreign security agencies that crack down on illegal immigration.
After Italy allowed the stay of illegal immigrants, passport authorities got a plethora of requests for fresh passports from them. "Most verification documents carry their clean shaven photos," says Kumar.

Along with the changing face of Punjabi youth, there is a rising concern over apostasy. But dollar dreams seem to have got the better of religious symbols.

-Ramesh Vinayak