The South Asian Times

18 September 2019 22:07 PM

Bill introduced to allow dual citizenship for Indians

New Delhi: Draft legislation brought before the Indian parliament seeks to allow dual citizenship for millions of foreign nationals of Indian origin who currently have to renounce Indian citizenship once they become citizens of another country.

Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor introduced a Bill last week to amend Article 9 of the Constitution of India that provides for automatic termination of the Indian citizenship upon acquiring citizenship of another country.

“We have the largest diaspora in the world, many of whom have migrated abroad for better opportunities. Taking a foreign passport for convenience does not make them any less Indian,” said Tharoor.

According to the UN World Migration Report 2018, over 15.6 million Indians are living in other countries, making it the largest diaspora in the world, followed by the Mexicans and the Russians.

A large section of India’s global diaspora has been calling for India to allow dual citizenship. The government of India, in order to cater to some of the demands of Indians living overseas, introduced the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. The OCI has been further streamlined and extensively promoted under the BJP government.

While the OCI allows foreign nationals of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely, they can’t vote or contest an election and don’t have the right to own agricultural land in India.

Tharoor argues that the people of Indian origin, many of whom have been highly successful tech-entrepreneurs and quite a few also rose to high public offices overseas, have an important stake in India.

“In the era of globalization, more people from India will search for opportunities abroad.

“By automatically terminating their Indian citizenship when they seek citizenship of countries of residence, the law effectively cuts them off their roots and makes them feel like they do not have a real stake in their country of origin,” he told the legislators.

The UAE, the United States and Saudi Arabia are the top three countries of residence for people of Indian origin outside India, together home to about 7.5 million Indians.

Update: 30 July, 2019

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