Indian community in Australia has started an online campaign to urge Indian Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi, to grant dual citizenship to overseas Indians.
Spokesperson for the campaign and President of Indian Australian Association of NSW Inc, Dr. Yadu Singh said “It’s time that Indian government grants NRIs dual citizenship”.
He further said “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 like USA, Canada, UK and Australia 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:
- Granting Indian passports (dual citizenship) to overseas citizens of Indian heritage with full political and economic 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.
Dr Singh also said “It is important for second and subsequent generations of Indians, besides first generation, to stay emotionally and politically connected with India. Dual citizenship will make it more likely that this will happen”.
Prime Minister Modi has the political capital, strength in the Parliament and the goodwill for/from the overseas Indians, who supported him massively, to get the Parliament to grant dual citizenship to Overseas Indians.
The campaign has just started from Australia. It has created great excitement in Indian community. It is gaining momentum and it will get enthusiastic support from Indian diaspora all over the world, particularly United States of America, Canada, UK and Australia. It will continue to be run until India sees merits in granting dual citizenship.
Dr. Singh said “I will make an appeal to PM Modi personally if there is an opportunity to meet him”.
Appeal is run via Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/the-honorable-sri-narendra-modi-appeal-to-grant-dual-citizenship-to-overseas-indians and Social media (www.facebook.com/IndianDualCitizenship)
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