By Mohan H. Patel
New York: I would like to extend congratulation to Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, and his Cabinet for having fulfilled recently their promise of granting voting rights to NRIs living outside of India. That is a right step in a right direction. However, still there is a problem of OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) in respect of voting rights.
As the Prime Minister is aware that NRIs living in the USA and the UK. were asking the government of India for giving them dual nationality for last two decades and the government offered OCI without voting rights and created India Overseas Citizenship in 2006. In essence, there is no dual nationality in real sense. It discriminates against overseas Indian citizen.
Now time is ripe to correct or amend law since there is a trend of “reverse brain drain” towards India and sons and daughters of India are returning to India. Let us embrace returning sons and daughters of India with dignity and honor and utilize their talent, experience and vision in the political process at local, state and center levels so our political system and country would benefit at large.
In this connection, following steps are suggested for the government of India’s consideration:
l OCI cardholders after two years may be granted regular Indian citizenship instead of five years of OCI requirement;
l Present requirement of continuous one year stay for getting Indian citizenship may be changed to altogether aggregate one year stay during period or requirement may be reduced to continuous three months of stay; and
l There is no need of above if OCIs may be treated on a par with regular Indian citizen by the stroke of pen by an executive order or Parliament action.
Let us do something in good faith for mutual benefits for India and OCIs.