Opinion piece on dual citizenship in The Economic Times

Dr Yadu SinghIt’s time Indian government granted NRIs dual citizenship

October 31, 2014, 4:16 am IST in ET Commentary | India | ET

There are an estimated 25 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), people of Indian origin (PIOs) and overseas citizens of India (OCIs) spread across more than 200 countries. Cumulatively, they contributed about $70 billion in remittances to India in 2013-14. The recent changes in the PIO and OCI cards announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi are welcome.

But they do not meet the long-term demand of dual citizenship by overseas Indians. The overseas citizenship card (OCC) falls well short of genuine dual citizenship. Many of us overseas Indians have been demanding genuine dual citizenship, with full political and economic rights in India on par with the rights enjoyed by Indian citizens. Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee was right in stating in 2005: “If we want to involve the diaspora, then we can’t deny them the right to vote or the right to occupy important office.”

Overseas Indians, whether they hold Indian passports or have foreign passports, have an emotional bond with India. That holds true for a majority of people of Indian heritage. When major democratic and developed countries have no issue with dual citizenship, there can’t be a real justification for India to treat its own people unfavourably.

The promise of dual citizenship was made by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003. Since then there have been statements from senior politicians about them favouring dual citizenship. But the matter has not progressed further. Statements are not enough. The following actions should be taken: 1. Granting Indian passports (dual citizenship) to overseas citizens of Indian heritage with full rights including voting and political rights. 2. Granting of convenient voting rights to such dual passport-holding overseas Indians as well as overseas Indians with Indian passports (NRIs), which can be exercised either at the consulate, high commission or embassy premises in their country of residence and through postal or online facilities.

India should consider taking a cue from Australia’s repeal of Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 that took effect from April 2002 permitting dual citizenship.

(The author is a resident of Sydney, Australia)

http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-commentary/its-time-indian-government-granted-nris-dual-citizenship/ http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31816&articlexml=Give-Us-This-Day-Our-Dual-Citizenship-31102014015034# OPED_Oct31_CAP

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Dr Yadu Singh, Sydney, Australia/4th Nov, 2014

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7 thoughts on “Opinion piece on dual citizenship in The Economic Times

  1. Dear Dr Yadu Singh,
    Well written and very true. We must work together and take all efforts to convince the Honourable Narinder Modi Prime Minister of India during his coming visit to Australia.
    Cheers
    Surinder Manku

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  2. It’s true that overseas feel affiliated about India. But as matter of fact this applies to first generation only. Most of the second ggeneration and onwards slowly gets detached.

    For a layman can you please highlight the bbenefits for an individual and for India. And what are the negatives that are causing this delay.

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  3. In the sixties Hari Leela of Hong Kong (one time richest indian in HK ) camped for six months in India for making investment and went back without succeeding. Similarly many NRI ‘s have expertise to offer but there is no platform. Mr Modi should create the system needed for NRI to give what they have to offer. Knowledge and innovation are wheels that drive modern economy not just money. Why is it hard to involve NRI’s because there is a elite club where power is and that is not open to an outsider. You got to know some one to pull you in the insider circle, that is the starting point. Big money is the trump card not your expertise. Whilst the host countries of NRI not only hear them but respect them for their efforts and ideas. This attitude also plays some what in the dual nationality issue, the threat of NRI’s getting to elite club as equals.

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