The issue of granting dual citizenship to Indians living abroad remains alive, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has acknowledged the “economic and security challenges” involved in such a move. Speaking at the TAKEPRIDE 2023 summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Jaishankar said that the existing Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) scheme is a step towards addressing the needs of the diaspora, but the debate on full dual citizenship continues.
Navigating Economic and Security Concerns:
Jaishankar’s remarks come in response to a question at the summit about the ease of doing business for Indian entrepreneurs settled overseas. Dual citizenship would potentially ease such hurdles by removing visa restrictions and granting automatic work permits in both India and the host country. However, Jaishankar emphasizes the complex considerations involved, particularly regarding which countries such privileges could be extended to without posing economic or security threats.
OCI: A Bridge, Not a Full Solution:
India currently offers the OCI program, intended for individuals of Indian origin who migrated from countries other than Pakistan and Bangladesh. OCI cardholders enjoy several benefits, including multiple-entry visas, long-term residency rights, and the ability to apply for Indian citizenship under certain conditions. However, it falls short of true dual citizenship by excluding voting rights and participation in Indian politics.
A Global Comparison:
While nations like the United States, Finland, and Israel embrace dual citizenship with specific regulations, India’s constitutional framework and security concerns necessitate a more cautious approach. The debate within India reflects the complex balance between addressing the aspirations of its diaspora and safeguarding national interests.
The Road Ahead:
Jaishankar’s acknowledgement of the ongoing debate suggests that the possibility of dual citizenship for Indians is not entirely closed off. However, it emphasizes the need for careful consideration of potential challenges and ensuring the scheme aligns with India’s economic and security priorities. Moving forward, the discussions on this subject are likely to involve continuous evaluation and potential adjustments to the OCI program or the exploration of alternative models that cater to the needs of India’s global community without compromising national interests.