New Bill in Indian Parliament Seeks to Amend Article 9 and Allow Dual Citizenship for Indian Diaspora

“Nearly 30 million Indians abroad make the largest diaspora in the world. Taking a foreign passport for the sake of convenience does not make them any less Indian,” said Congress MP Shashi Tharoor while introducing a bill in the Parliament, seeking to amend Article 9 of the Indian Constitution, so that foreign nationals of Indian origin can be granted dual citizenship, a long-standing demand for and from the Indian diaspora.

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Article 9 of the Constitution of India is a mandate for those who acquire citizenship in foreign countries to renounce their Indian citizenship rights. It is further complemented by the Indian Passport Act, which does not allow overseas Indians to hold an Indian passport after acquiring foreign citizenship. Rather, foreign nationals of Indian origin may incur a penalty of up to $1050 for holding the Indian passport.

In response to global Indian diaspora’s demand for dual citizenship, Indian government introduced the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card at the 2006 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held in Hyderabad. Under the OCI status, foreign nationals of Indian origin are allowed to live and work in India for an indefinite period of time, though they are bereft of the rights to cast their votes, hold public service offices and buy agricultural properties in their native country.

In the regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the OCI card has been promoted fairly and the erstwhile prevailing misconceptions about it have been mitigated to a greater extent. The OCI application process has been streamlined too. If the dual citizenship bill is approved, India-born foreign citizens will be able to hold Indian passport which entitles Indian nationals to visa-free entry to 25 countries and visa on arrival in 39 countries.

The United States, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are home to over 7.5 million Indians in total, according to the UN World Migration Report 2018. The Indian populace of Australia comprises of 620,000 as per the 2016 census. About 120,000 Indians acquired the citizenship of Australia in between 2013 and 2018. The United Kingdom alone is home to 1,451,862 people of Indian origin, according to the UN Census 2011.

Also Check: India’s Budget 2019 – New Tax Rules for NRIs

Granting dual citizenship to the influential and highly skilled Indian diaspora will allow them to participate actively in India’s governance, policymaking and politics, according to Congress PM Shashi Tharoor’s statement supporting the dual citizenship bill for foreign citizens of Indian origin. “Indians living abroad are already contributing immensely to India and there’s such an enormous wealth of experience that India can benefit from further,” he opined.

Shashi Tharoor cited two instances to justify his arguments in support of the dual citizenship bill. Indian American leaders’ political stronghold in Washington DC was a driving force behind the historic India-US nuclear deal. In 2011, the government of Australia revoked ban on uranium exports to India, at the request of Australian Indian leaders.

The government of India invites the Indian diaspora to invest in various industries and support various social causes for the socio-economic growth of India, but does not engage them in the country’s governance and policymaking. Even India’s research corridors are closed for Indian-origin leaders with foreign citizenship.

On his maiden visits to the USA and Australia in 2015, Prime Minister Modi invited Indians in Sydney, New York and San Francisco to be ambassadors of several socio-economic projects, such as Clean India and Swachh Bharat Mission in their country of origin. Undeniably, Indian Americans, Indians in the UK, Indians in the UAE, Australian Indians, and Indian expatriates in the rest of the world contribute to support many charities for the underprivileged in India.

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15 thoughts on “New Bill in Indian Parliament Seeks to Amend Article 9 and Allow Dual Citizenship for Indian Diaspora

  1. SUNIL CHOHAN

    It is time for India to recognize the tremendous money that we Indians from overseas are able participate more and more and considered Indian not just NRI’s. Hopefully all red tape will be removed eventually.

    Reply
  2. Kuldip

    It is a great news for us living abroad. Will there be any amendment of this law to include next generation of indians born overseas.

    Reply
  3. Abhishek

    OCI is sufficient for Indians abroad to contribute to India. No need for dual citizenship, as it would open avenues for anti nationals to miss use it against India.

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    • R Shaikh

      I think they are speaking of dual citizenship for ONLY diaspora, not non-nationals. Indian born should have the right to vote in thier native country. We have longstanding family, community, religious and political ties and interests in India. The OCI card is better for non-national spouses and persons born overseas who now reside in India.

      Reply
    • Ashish

      I am disagree with you. I think India should allow dual citizenship because they will bring money to india and will feel more involved with the country.

      Reply
  4. Nayan

    I think it make sense to provide dual citizenship. We have to surrender passport and need to get visa to visit India where we born that sounds crazy. It is rediculous and other country people laughing when they hear about our country rules. Most of countries allow dual citizenship as per my survey. I hope Indian government let us allow keep Indian citizenship also.

    Reply
  5. rayasam shashi

    Any chance this will be passed? I think this will be good as most countries allow dual citizenship and why should Indians be exempt?

    Reply
  6. Ravi

    There is a misconception that a Indian origin person with foreign passport is called an NRI. No, an NRI is an Indian citizen who lives more than 6 months away from India. It’s a good idea to give dual citizenship to persons of Indian origin (PIO’s). This will encourage the PIO’s to be motivated to participate and contribute for many causes and bring a change to the old, rotten and spoilt political system. It will also encourage new methods of developments in the agricultural sectors where people are interested to come and do mass agriculture with an advantage of pumping maximum funds. Let’s see if politicians and bureaucrats will allow.

    Reply
  7. Lok

    India should allow for selected countries dual citizenship it will be mutually beneficial both India and Indians living abroad, slowly world is becoming global village and we are in 21st century the world is becoming smaller day by day with various communication channel and India should move forward with new thinking.

    Reply
  8. Rima

    India should allow for dual citizenship. Not only it will help the Indian economy a fair chance to grow but people living in another country can also contribute to bringing a change. We are already proud of our country and this opportunity will enhance our proudness.

    Reply
  9. Apoorva Shrivastava

    The Current Crisis of COVID has opened a pandora box! OCI is now being clubbed with other foreigners, which has meant that they are now unable to travel between the two countries, as initially, the government blocked all foreigners from traveling including OCI. So, families who have their elderly parents in India are unable to now visit their home due to their passports.

    With OCI, though a Visa, it was a general thought that we were bring clubbed along with other Citizens for such matters. But in this crisis, we have been segregated. Thus, I feel dual citizenship would help OCI who have families both abroad and India. Many countries don’t ask their citizens to revoke their citizenship if they take up new and additional citizenship.

    Reply
  10. Sudarshan

    India should allow for dual citizenship. Lot of foreign earn income can benefit Indian Economy.

    Reply
  11. Suman

    There is no reason not to allow dual or multiple citizenships for Indians as is the case for most other developed countries. The irrational fears of security are not based on any reason/facts. We dont need passport /visa to travel to Nepal or Bhutan. Do people from those countries all move to India? Similarly most developed countries allow dual/multiple citizenships so does security concern not apply to them. Anyway anyone even a person of non-Indian origin can apply for citizenship and get Indian passport so what is the real concern in allowing dual/multiple citizenships.
    Not allowing this only shows paranoid, ignorant, jealous nature of those opposed to this. Such people dont care about India. They want to keep it isolated and want to inconvenience their own citizens and drive them away. Indians living overseas are an asset to the country and should be engaged as much as possible to let our country grow in the world.

    Reply

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