Dual citizenship to Indians living abroad could act as a major catalyst to driving tourism numbers into India, writes Major Murli Dhar, former IATO chief. While the Indian government has issued OCI cards to NRIs, as announced by the PM in his trip to Britain a few months ago, but it would do well to press for the same as it sits on the table with various governments, world over. (As told to TourismFirst)
“It was during IATO Convention held in Jodhpur in 2000, when the then President IATO Major Murli Dhar advocated for dual citizenship to NRIs. The issue was debated at length. Major Murli Dhar noted that if NRIs and other people of Indian origin were given dual citizenship, they would be able to maintain contact with their roots. They would like to know more about their home. They would be aquatinted with their culture and traditions. They might send their children to India for education which is much cheaper. Dhar was of the opinion that education at the schooling stage in India, comparatively, is very good and cheaper, and should be given preference. For higher education, studying in foreign countries like USA, UK, Australia etc. can be preferred if pocket allows. NRIs could come to India for medical treatment – Allopathic, Ayurvedic – which is much cheaper in comparison to western countries. India has world class doctors and infrastructure. He further feels that above would augment tourist flow as well.
Dhar further stressed that these NRIs would also like to explore the feasibility of investment and bring much needed foreign exchange. China’s huge investment is from Chinese living abroad. More than half of Chinese inbound tourism come from people of Chinese origin. People of Indian origin is still a hugely untapped domain.
Now, the government has realized the importance of dual citizenship but they could not do so as it requires approval of the country where NRIs are residing. However, subsequently the Government gave the facility of OCI cards which allows NRIs hassle free travel and unlimited stay in India. They would be encouraged for impulsive travel. They no longer would be required to plan their visit in advance. They were exempted from registration with the Police authority.
But this India Diaspora would not be allowed to have constitutional appointment, e.g. they could not contest for Parliament and State Assembly. They would not be elected as President or Vice President of India, as Judge of Supreme Court, High Court etc. Same was in the case of Government jobs too. They would not be entitled to acquire agricultural land and plantation properties but could always accept as gifts. They could work, do business and make investments in business and property. They could keep deposits in bank which was exempted from the income tax.
Today the Government is contemplating to give the right to vote to NRIs, hopefully this will be through soon.
The above facilities have enhanced the image of the NRIs and have made them proud of their Indian connect. Hopefully our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has visited so many countries, and has been acknowledged as a very popular and dynamic leader, would like to discuss the importance of dual citizenship and its benefits his counterpart countries that he is visiting.”