PM’s opening line at NRI meet: dual citizenship and a call to invest in India


: A day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the tsunami-ravaged islands of Andaman and Nicobar, he came to Mumbai with a promise to India’s diaspora—made with emotion and frankness—on a landmark new deal in dual citizenship.

Emphasising the idea of ‘‘Indianness’’ that binds the nation with its 25 million overseas Indians, Singh told NRIs from 61 nations at the third Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here that he understood the complex migrant psyche.

Appealing for massive investment in education and infrastructure, Singh said: ‘‘Your impatience at our bureaucratic ways is understandable.’’

The PM then announced the decision to ‘‘give substance to the long-standing demand of dual citizenship, without further loss of time. I am painfully aware it was promised earlier. I regret that little has happened.’’

The government will extend dual citizenship to all overseas Indians who migrated post January 26, 1950—provided it is permitted under laws of their home nations.

To take his ‘‘pledge’’ forward, Singh said the cumbersome application forms will be simplified with one user-friendly form to replace the three forms prescribed earlier.

The Package

• For all overseas Indians who migrated after January 26, 1950
• Simpler user-friendly application form
• Improved format of registration certificate
• Smart cards for registration being considered

The format of certificates of registration for overseas Indians will also be improved. ‘‘A smart card is being considered,’’ he said. Acknowledging that governments had taken too much time over the issue, he said he had directed concerned ministries to spell out benefits of such registration, for clarity of policy.

‘‘I hope the day will come when every single Indian who wishes dual citizenship will get it,’’ said Singh.

The PM also called upon overseas Indian parents to send children to study in India. ‘‘The psyche of the migrant is complex,’’ he said, referring to the hard times his family faced during Partition. Emphasising that he and his daughters had benefited from education here, he appealed to NRIs to fund NGOs for primary education in villages of their forefathers.

Our airports are getting clogged, the PM admitted before highlighting reforms in civil aviation reforms, including the open skies policy. ‘‘We need massive investment in infrastructure, rural and urban, to step up rate of economic growth to 7-8 per cent a year,’’ said Singh. With an assurance to extend reforms to polity and administration, he said never in human history have a billion people, mostly poor, built such a nation of promise.

The assurances were plenty, from plans to address the issue of protecting returns on the savings of Gulf NRIs to their work contracts. ‘‘We should try and wean away NRIs in the Gulf from bank deposits to debt or even equity-oriented savings,’’ said the Prime Minister.