India must grant voting rights to OCIs too


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 ‚Äúreverse brain drain‚ÄĚ 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.

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