Dual citizenship for Indian diaspora

Himalayan News Service

Mumbai, January 7:

India has decided to grant dual citizenship to all overseas Indians who migrated from the country after January 26, 1950, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh announced today as he urged them to come and invest in the country. “I am happy to announce that we have decided to extend the facility of dual citizenship to all overseas Indian who migrated from India after Jan 26, 1950, as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship under their local laws,” the prime minister said in his inaugural address to Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Indian Diaspora Day) conference. The prime minister’s announcement was greeted with loud applause by some 2,000 overseas Indians attending the three-day convention, many of whom have made a name for themselves in various walks of life in the countries of their adoption.

He regretted that though dual citizenship had been promised in the first two Pravasi Divas conferences in New Delhi, ‘little has happened to implement this declaration of intent.’ “I do hope that a day will come when every single overseas Indian who wishes to secure Indian citizenship will actually be able to do so,” Manmohan Singh said to sustained applause. He promised to simplify the application forms and said a ‘user-friendly’ form combining the three forms prescribed earlier had already been prepared and would be notified soon. “Finally, we will simplify the format of the certificate of registration of overseas citizens of India. Various options, including the possibility of smart cards, are being considered. I hope the security, operational and other aspects of issuing this document will be completed soon.” He said he had asked the ministries to spell out the benefits of registering overseas citizenship so that there was clarity in the government’s policy.

This is the third conference being held to honour the 20 million-strong Indian diaspora spread across the globe and commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi, the original NRI, to the country from South Africa 90 years ago. “Welcome home,” the prime minister told the gathering and noted that it was the first time the conference was being held in the nation’s financial and entertainment capital. In coming to Mumbai this year, the conference had returned to the shore on which that ‘Great Pravasi’ Gandhi had arrived this week 90 years ago and whose memory the conference honours and celebrates, the prime minister said. He noted that Indian immigrants had gone to many countries to seek livelihood or in search of knowledge, skills, training and professional opportunities. He was happy that the economic policies the country had initiated in the past decade had enabled it ‘to connect with you more vigorously and engage you in meaningful ways in the reconstruction of our motherland.’ He said these policies had significantly contributed to the emergence of India as a major economic player.

“Together with the tremendous strides our country has been making in the knowledge-based sector, there is no doubt that the 21st century will be an Indian century,” he added. He assured the conference that the economic reforms process would be carried forward and extended to the administration and polity so that India’s latent potential is unchained.

“There is much that you can contribute, both through the inspiration of your example and through investment in our future,” he said.