Indian Govt is working on a Bill, which will be introduced in Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) soon, after having already been passed by Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament), to replace PIO and OCI cards with a single card, named “Overseas Indian Card”. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinions/30048500.cms
NRI (Non-Resident Indian), PIO (Person of Indian Origin) and OCI Overseas Citizen of Indian) words do create some confusion for many people.
The Link below might help you understand what these names mean. http://mha1.nic.in/pdfs/oci-chart.pdf
I think, replacing PIO and OCI cards with “Overseas Indian Card” it is a good idea, provided,
1. Govt does not impose any cost to those with these cards while replacing current OCI/PIO cards with “Overseas Indian Card”,
2. the process to replace PIO/OCI cards with Overseas Indian Cards is simple, automatic and not cumbersome,
3. the new card is valid for life Long,
4. Fees for Overseas Indian Card is reasonable, not expensive.
I do not see any issue with the requirement that the sticker for the OCI/PIO card or their replacement “Overseas Indian Card” should be pasted in the current passport. If we have to renew our Passports, we will need to have the “Overseas Indian Card” sticker transferred to the new Passport. It should however not cost more than a reasonable amount ie $50-100.00.
While at it, we should not miss the real issue in regards to Overseas Indians-NRIs, PIOs and OCIs. This is about India’s reluctance to offer Overseas Indians a true “Dual Citizenship”.
Overseas Indians, whether they hold Indian Passports or have Overseas Passports, love India. They have an emotional bond with India. This is true for a great majority of people with Indian heritage.
If India is really serious in looking after Overseas Indians, and wishes to tap into this network for variety of purposes, it should consider;
a. Giving Indian passports (Dual citizenship) to overseas Citizens of Indian heritage with full rights including political rights,
b. giving convenient voting rights to such dual passport holders as well as Indian passport holders (NRIs), which can be exercised either at the Consulate, High Commission or Embassy premises in their country of residence or through postal or Online facilities. Postal Voting rights, after all, are allowed for India’s diplomatic staff, serving outside India.
Nobody can argue against India’ right to reject applications for Indian Passports to Overseas citizens of Indian heritage if they have security issues or are associated with terrorist/separatist anti-India groups, if a thorough security investigation finds evidence of such background.
In regards to NRIs (Indians living overseas but holding Indian passports), I am aware that Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is in favour of granting convenient voting rights to them via postal, online or voting at the Consulate/Embassies/High Commissions, and has already submitted a memorandum to Election Commission of India in January 2014. https://ofbjp.org/sites/default/files/Memorandum%20to%20CEC%20VS%20Sampath%20on%20NRIs%20Voting%20Issue%20English.pdf
Currently, NRIs must register their names in the voter lists at their place of residence in India, before they left India, and be physically present there to vote, which is practically very inconvenient, and financially prohibitive.
Indian constitution allows NRIs to vote in theory, but Govt has not done anything to make it convenient for >10 million (>1 crore) NRIs, despite its lofty claims!
Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/12th Feb, 2014