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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 16:00 GMT
Dual citizenship for Indians: Is it too late?
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has recently put the issue of dual citizenship on the national agenda.
Dual citizenship has already been embraced by Pakistan and Bangladesh.
However, in India there has been lots of discussion at government level but little action.
If the law was changed, Indians who have become citizens of other countries would also be able to apply for citizenship of India.
Is the government going to deliver this time? Who will gain from the lifting of these restrictions - the people of India or the Indian Diaspora? Or should India have done it earlier?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Bibhuti Bhusan Barman, United Kingdom
Why are the people becoming citizens of other countries to begin with? Is it all about money? I say if one can't commit fully to a country - heart, mind and soul, then they shouldn't become a citizen of that country to begin with.
I can certainly understand the joy of the East European immigrant when he attained US citizenship. Back when he would have immigrated, East Europe was a very bleak place that many sought to leave with no desire to see again. Most Indians in the US are highly educated professionals. They are here because the US needed their skills, but still have strong ties to India. Would you criticize anyone for changing employers when faced with better prospects. No... that is the American Way. I am for dual citizenship for all who emigrated to another land for whatever reason, and who still feel strong ties to their land of birth.
We never hear any criticism of US and Israeli citizens having dual citizenship. Let's not have a double standard here.
I am thrilled to hear that India is considering granting dual citizenship. I have been married to an Australian-born Indian for the last six years but could not decide what to do about my citizenship. I work in Australia and pay my taxes here, therefore I have an interest in the elections and would like to have an Australian vote. On the other hand I was born and bred in India. I cannot imagine losing my Indian citizenship. My family lives there but my children are Australians. What can I do?
I am a citizen of the US having spent my first 30 years in India. I totally support the idea of dual citizenship which is long overdue. It will greatly help first generation Indians who still like to be Indian but are emotionally torn between their new
home and their old one.
My grandfather came to America from Eastern Europe. The proudest day of his life was the day he took the oath and became an American. I remember tears in his eyes when at his 99th birthday party he told everyone that was his greatest achievement. He took that oath as a solemn pledge to put America first in his heart, but today it seems like immigrants look upon citizenship cynically. It's no longer about committing to a country dedicated upon freedom, liberty and justice. It's all about how they can strategically use citizenship to their advantage. No wonder people in America are becoming increasingly concerned about first generation Americans - especially after September 11th.
I can't see why this hasn't been done already. My parents who both came to the UK in the 60s still have family and 'ancestral' homes in India but they need to get a visa every time they want to return the country of their birth.
In most cases this is fine, but in emergencies, it can cause some problems, like when my Grandmother passed away on Christmas Eve and my mother had to wait until the 27th until we could arrange a visa from the Indian High Commission.
I cannot but agree with the proposal of dual citizenship.
I became a naturalised French citizen along with my wife some thirty years back. Both of us are born in Goa and visit India every year for our Christmas holidays with our family and friends but something seems to be missing. Could it be dual citizenship? For obvious reasons we certainly think so.
Some European countries have no difficulty in granting dual citizenship to their nationals so why should the India of the 21st century lag behind?
Following the introduction of the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) cards which provides almost ALL rights of citizenship except, probably, the right to vote, why not have dual citizenship instead?
I am not an Indian but I feel there is no room for double allegiance on the part of any American, native born or immigrant. Would India also allow the millions of Muslims who fled the country for Pakistan and Bangladesh to become Indians?
The government should allow people who have been living in India for more than a certain number of years (say five) to apply for Indian citizenship along with any other they already have. But if you have never lived in India, there is no reason for you to have Indian citizenship.
Dr Sharad Kumar, UK/Canada
Dual citizenship is but the first step towards breaking down the boundaries that so artificially divide people on the basis of "allegiance" and such other high sounding words.
For heaven's sake, let's get it over with. There might be some security concerns or issues with abuse of the system, but surely they can be overcome via other means? The benefits to India and the Diaspora far outweigh any possible downside.
I agree with this idea of dual citizenship. It would make it convenient for a lot of NRIs and they too could have a stake in the country's progress. Also the number of Indians settled abroad has increased monumentally. It is time that dual citizenship is enacted.
Yes, India should allow dual citizenship as the world shrinks more and more in today's global economy.
Consequently, eligible and aspiring NRIs
should be able to acquire the other nation's passport while keeping their current Indian/other passport.
Developed countries such as Japan, Italy, UK and Israel have only benefited from it as will the stated developing nations including India.
Dual citizenship is a way forward as it allows more interaction on a socio-economic plane. It will help in forging more active links between nations. As far as allegiance is concerned, swearing an oath does not stop anyone betraying that oath.
Definitely a great step forward. NRIs would see this as a vital link to reassociate with their heritage and past. Especially children who watch the latest Indian movies like K3G and feel they should return back and serve the nation their parents came from.
A good example is the citizens of Israel who have US citizenship and also help out their nation in a time of crisis.
Dr. Raj K Jain, UK
Dual Citizenship? Why?
The first generation Indians abroad are those people who were brought up in India and then moved to other country for better opportunities. They used Indian subsidies to be brought up. They studied in some of the best educational institutes in India and now when it was time to repay their dues back to their so called "motherland" they pay their taxes and loyalty to a foreign land.
Why should these people be given a dual citizenship? They were never loyal to India and now by giving them a dual citizenship - India would just be confusing them and they would be cheating their new "motherland".
In this era of Globalisation, the international borders are just political borders. Dual citizenship is certainly the first step towards achieving global citizenship which cuts across man-made borders, cultures, races, religions and languages.
I don't think there is any reason to give dual nationality to the Indian's living abroad. If one person went out of India and took another nationality, then India is no more his country. If one gets a dual nationality, the question of loyalty will come. Indians have special identity and culture, which is quite different from the western world. So, if one person decided to loose that by accepting the other, why should we bother about them. I strongly oppose giving dual nationalities to the Indians staying abroad.
The issue of Dual Citizenship not only applies to the first generation Indians but to the second Generation as well. The bond between families does not diminish with frontiers, family links continue. Indeed, with Indian Government encouragement to maintain these ties via the NRI scheme the impetus, to proceed on this issue, surely becomes even stronger.
Yes, there always is a difficult and heartfelt concern when one gives up their nationality for another, but this situation makes you no less loyal to the country of your adoption than to the country of your father or grandfather, it is only natural that India should proceed positively. Britain already recognises duality of citizenship.
Look at the dual citizenship status enjoyed by Australians, New Zealanders, Israelis etc in relation to their British citizenship.
In today's global village, national boundaries are getting blurred. Having a citizenship of a country simply makes working/living/doing business with that country easier. I consider myself an international citizen with a special bond with India. If India allows dual citizenship, it will be a win-win situation. India will benefit from the resources of the NRI and the NRI will find it easier to retain a relationship, business or otherwise, with India. As for the future generation, my daughter holds a British passport, but is Indian and British. She should be allowed to enjoy belonging to both countries - that is her heritage.
Yes, I think India should embrace the modern world where people have come so close to each other that boundaries are no more a matter. Otherwise India seems to be pursuing an isolationist policy for its people. When there is more interaction between people, there emerges a bridging factor among nations, it will produce more understanding about Indian culture and people. The best way of achieving that is by allowing dual citizenship right to its people. It is great convenience.
Prateek Gupta, India
I am an Indian settled in the USA. I don't see any reason why India should allow dual citizenship. When you become a citizen of the US you are expected to 'renounce allegiance to any prince, potentate or Pope' and swear allegiance only to the US.
I think that this is an excellent idea and long overdue. It will greatly help first generation Indians who still like to be Indian but are emotionally torn between loyalty to their new home and their old one.
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