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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.

Your reaction

When people of other countries are reaping the benefits of dual citizenship, why shouldn't we do the same

Bibhuti Bhusan Barman, UK
I am an Indian by birth and by heart. Recently I got Permanent Residenceship (PR) of UK. I can't think of losing Indian citizenship. Dual citizenship would help me and others to move freely. And I am sure many would also freely invest in India, thus contributing to India's economy. Also, when people of other countries are reaping the benefits of dual citizenship, why shouldn't we do the same? When the rest of world is supporting this, we would be fools not to support this. So I whole-heartedly support this idea of going for dual citizenship.
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.
Greg, USA

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.
Manu Anand, US

The government should not give citizenship to everybody

Apurva, Singapore
I am a Singapore PR. I love India and I am not taking Singapore citizenship just yet because I don't want to give up my Indian citizenship. For an Indian, this would be a good move because we could move a bit more freely and still be linked with our country of birth. But the government should not give citizenship to everybody, it should be controlled. On the whole a good move by the government for its citizens and for those Indians living abroad.
Apurva, Singapore

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?
Surinder, Australia

One can't serve two masters

William, USA
This is absurd. One can't serve two masters. One can't have two wives. One can't play for two sporting teams at the same time. And one can't be loyal to two counties at once. One has to commit becoming a citizen fully, or not at all. It's really an insult to the country that the person has become a naturalized citizen of. It's a betrayal of trust.
William, USA

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.
Krishnaswamy, USA

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.
Beth, America

Dual nationality is the only realistic and natural option

Anonymous, UK
As a British woman married to an Indian citizen, I would warmly embrace this move. My husband is torn between his commitment to Britain and the convenience of having a British passport and his natural loyalty and affection for his country of birth. Even if he does choose to adopt British citizenship, he is and always will be Indian at heart so why can't his dual allegiance be recognised by giving him dual nationality? As for our children, they really are both Indian and British, and so dual nationality is the only realistic and natural option.
Anonymous, UK

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.
Vinod Chhotu Patel, West Bromwich, UK

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?
Custodio de Souza, France

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?
Tanweer Khalfay, Kuwait

Dual citizenship should be linked to money invested in India

Achs, India
I am an Indian living in the US. Dual citizenship should be linked to money invested in India. If a person of Indian origin has invested a certain amount in the infrastructure development of the country only then should he/she should be given dual citizenship.
Achs, India

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?
John Theodore, USA

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.
Ram Kumar, Belgium

It is estimated that expatriate Indians are worth some $200 billion

Dr Sharad Kumar, UK/Canada
Why not? Being a Canadian citizen of Indian origin, I have always wondered why the Indian Diaspora is so ignored by India of all places. We Indian expatriates number some 10 million, have the skills which India can surely use and have settled down pretty much everywhere across the globe and hence have a unique and intimate knowledge of the world which both India and the country of our current citizenship can use. Last but certainly not the least, it is estimated that expatriate Indians are worth some $200 billion which is second only to the expatriate Jewish and Chinese people.
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.
Shyam Kishore, India

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.
Anand Seshadri, USA

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.
Srinivas Sagar, USA

You can have cultural ties to a nation

Sameer, USA
I am a born and bred American whose parents are of Pakistani decent. The idea of dual citizenship is not only absurd but an oxymoron. When you declare your allegiance to one country, your allegiance belongs to that country alone. You can have cultural ties to a nation. But that is independent from your nationality.
Sameer, USA

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.
Ravi S. Bemra, USA

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.
Vinod Dawda, UK

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 Ruma Mishra, Asst. Professor, Psychology Mass Bay College, Boston, MA, USA

Indians will be able to pay a bit back to the country we all love

Dr. Raj K Jain, UK
I think that it is an overdue decision. Mr. Vajpayee was the first foreign affairs minister in India to recognise the contribution of Indians living overseas to the country of their origin. We NRIs love the country of our birth and feel a pain when we have to stand in a queue of foreigners at the Indian airports. Indians will be able to pay a bit back to the country we all love. One can share love and loyalty between the country of birth and the adopted country. I appreciate the gesture of honouring overseas Indians as proposed by Mr. Vajpayee. Future generations of people of Indian origin will also feel a belonging to India. Mr. Vajpayee, do not delay any more.
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.
Malolan Cadambi, Ames, IA,USA

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.
S. Kumar, Switzerland/India

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.
Anilkumar Haria, UK

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.
Sumita Mani, Hong Kong

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.
Imran Ahsan Mirza, Australia

They should have a legitimate voice in the affairs of the country

Prateek Gupta, India
An overwhelming YES. Why the hesitation for dual citizenship? It really beats me. This would spur investment in real estate and make the non-resident Indian (NRI) an important voice in national matters. If NRIs contribute so much via foreign remittances, they should have a legitimate voice in the affairs of the country and it can be achieved by this vehicle of dual citizenship.
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.
Rags, USA

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.
Jagadeesan Sethuraman, USA

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