I am not sure. Maybe Texan has better insight on this matter.
Why would they want to prevent people from buying tickets from abroad?
One possibility is that foreign sources were being used by scalpers to corner reservations in some sort of a scam, or they were facing significantly higher proportion of fraudulent CC charges from abroad. Before they took this step they had made it impossible to buy tickets using foreign Visa and Mastercards. Those cards had to be registered with an Indian verifier before they could be used. Amex was still open. And then they tightened the web membership requirement to require that the account be verified by sending a verification token by SMS to a +91 prefix mobile phone.
I hasten to add that this is just speculation on my part. The other possibility is simply that someone has a lot of free time to dream up new things to keep themselves gainfully employed, though having see the nature of this operation in close range I sort of doubt that.
The thing is, in India train tickets are such a prized commodity with demand outweighing supply manifold, cornering of tickets by "agents" and other illegal re-sellers is a serious problem. They book tickets in bulk when the reservations open 90 days in advance and then re-sell them to passengers desperate to travel at a high premium. In the olden days before internet booking came in, these agents use to send their insider men to the reservation offices and book tickets en masse by bribing/adjusting things with the ticket counter staff. When web ticketing option started, they moved on to tech-savvy way of block booking tickets by opening multiple sessions on the IRCTC website using multiple computers and multiple login etc. This menace became irritating to genuine passengers and so Indian Railways decided to tackle the issue head-on to ensure genuine passengers get an equal chance to grab the tickets. Their intentions are good but the implementation absolutely horrible. Every time they add in a "security feature", the agents are one step ahead and find out a way to bypass it, so they add another feature and agents bypass it and so on. They started with the requirement to have an account verified from an Indian cellphone as a way to ensure one person does not own a dozen IRCTC logins. When cellphone SIM cards became dirt cheap and agents started buying multiple phone numbers to create multiple logins, they added some feature about not allowing travel agents to book tickets for the first two hours. Even this didn't work so they came up with some policy about credit cards. Still no luck then now the latest experiment is not allowing anyone from same IP Address to book more than two tickets in a day.
Basically, as this cat and mouse game went on for several years, by now the IRCTC website has become a terrible mess, the ultimate museum specimen of everything that should not
be in a ticketing website. It is a topic of ridicule and annoyance across the country. The rot has gotten so deep by now that the existing system needs to be thrown away and a new ticketing website needs to be built absolutely from scratch. I don't see that happening anytime soon in the bureaucracy-infected system but one can only hope. It is such an irony that the country whose citizens hold software development and IT job positions in companies across the world does not have a good functional secure website for the most widely used service in the country
Edited by Texan Eagle, 08 April 2012 - 05:09 PM.