HSMP Forum’s Press Release

                  Dual Citizenship Campaign Finds Resonance In Political Corridors                 

Dt – 6th February 2011 

 

A new wave of reassurance from Indian political circles has reinforced the hopes of those who have been forced to give up their Indian nationality on attaining foreign citizenship fighting for their right to dual citizenship.

 

The relentless campaigning by the HSMP Forum, a prominent UK-based organisation has yielded hope after Indian politicians acknowledged the need to review the dual citizenship policy.

 

Mr Amit Kapadia, Chairman/Executive Director of the Forum met key Indian politicians recently to garner their support for the dual citizenship campaign.

 

Mr Kapadia said, “We have found a lot of support from cross party politicians regarding the dual citizenship provision and they have shown great willingness to raise this matter in the Parliament and political circles. Many are confident that this change is inevitable and long overdue. We believe this issue has been long suppressed and undermines the contribution of the non-resident Indian community settled abroad. We want and implore the Indian government to give this matter its due importance.”

 

Mr Kapadia also met cross-party senior politicians and party leaders such as Mr Rahul Gandhi, General Secretary of the Congress, Mr M Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law and Justice, Mr D Raja of the Communist Party of India, Dr Subramaniam Swamy of the Janata Party, Mr Nitin Gadkari, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Venkaiah Naidu Senior BJP leader, the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi and some state chief ministers to discuss this issue. Although, most politicians were supportive of the dual citizenship provision the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi was not in favour of the dual citizenship provision.

 

The UK-based campaigning organisations HSMP Forum and Association of Immigrants work for the rights of Indians, and other non-European immigrants in the UK. They have been successful in pursuing immigrants’ interests in the face of legal challenges with a focus on safeguarding their rights to work and settle in the UK.

 

Not resting on their laurels, the HSMP forum now has been vehemently campaigning against the Indian government’s policy of forcibly revoking Indian passports to Indian citizens who take up foreign nationality. It argues that those aspiring to retain Indian citizenship alongside their foreign nationality should not be forced to surrender their Indian citizenship/passports.

 

It has also asserted that the Overseas Citizenship of India or the Person of Indian Origin cards fall short of the sense of the identity and security given by retaining one’s Indian nationality. The lifetime visa called Overseas Citizenship of India is not recognised as Indian citizenship. The Indian immigrants settled in the UK state when visiting their motherland they need to feel like Indian citizens rather than foreign nationals 

 

Last year the NGOs wrote to the Indian Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh expressing the concerns of non-resident Indian community settled in the UK but found no progress or review of the dual citizenship issue.

 

The letter said that Indians settled abroad share a strong sense of commitment to the adopted country at the same time, feel a sense of responsibility towards their mother country.

 

“Having pursued our goals relentlessly for years, many of us have earned the right to citizenship, which consolidates our position in our adopted country and facilitates investments in our home country in terms of trade, property, healthcare, education and other financial matters. Such investments are our way of offering gratitude to the motherland, and also serve the country’s economy. No country would want to make citizens of those who do not care about the country of their birth. Although we have adopted a foreign nationality and a way of life, India still remains our home to which most of us pay a visit at regular intervals.”

 

The letter further stated that dual citizenship would help to restore the faith and confidence of the NRI investor by making them a part of the country’s progress instead of reducing them to a mere visa holder.

 

Although the Indian government recently announced the provision of voting rights for non-resident Indians holding Indian passports, the larger issue of dual citizenship for those who have taken up foreign citizenship has remained unresolved. 

 

The only objection expressed by some politicians is security concerns in providing dual citizenship to people settled in certain countries. The forum argues that certain rules can be put in place to protect any further concerns held by the government in introducing dual citizenship but this should not lead to a complete deprivation especially for those who were born as Indian citizens.

Certain conservative political mindsets are of the opinion that since the NRIs left the country on their own accord for commercial gains they should be stripped of privileges back home.  The forum argues that citizenship is a basic birthright for those who were born in India and not a privilege.

Dual citizenship will serve the dual purpose of cementing their bond with the country and directing investments back into the country, allowing NRIs to maximise their emotional and economic contributions.  

Notes to the editor:

1)      http://www.hsmpforumltd.com/Dual%20Citizenship%20campaign%20meetings%20with%20Indian%20politicians.pdf   

 

http://www.hsmpforumltd.com/archives.html

 

2)      http://www.hsmpforum.org 

These are some of the statements which bear testimony to the sentiments of Indians settled in the UK

Dr. Amaresh Swaro, a UK-based General Physician from Orissa who has successfully obtained foreign citizenship said he wished to remain a proud Indian citizen. He says, “Dual nationality gives us sense of belonging to our home country as well as our adopted country. Taking away our Indian citizenship just because my family and I have chosen another country to live in can have serious psychological impact. This also deters non-resident Indians from making investments which is crucial since NRIs bring billions of foreign currency into India.”

Horticulturist Mrs Bala Kompalli hailing from Hyderabad says the dual citizenship will help her share her academic success with her colleagues back in India.  “Dual citizenship will help us stay committed and show gratitude to our home country which gave us the education and confidence to succeed in a foreign country.  I wish to share new developments in my field with Indian scientific organizations through travels and study trips.”

Dr. Subbulakshmi Natarajan who is from Chennai and an Education Consultant settled in London said, “I attained my doctorate degree in English from a renowned Indian university and worked in a reputed university as the Head of Department in India. By denying us dual nationality, aren't we deprived of the chance to serve our own country of birth? Are we refused our right just because we are recognised in a foreign country? Doesn't it sound like asking a woman to forget her parents, for her in-laws, when she treats them both with equal reverence?”

Amol Karnik, finance professional from Mumbai, working as a credit manager in the UK said, “It is very disappointing that whilst India is making tremendous economic progress, it still follows archaic laws regarding immigration policies. Some people might think dual citizenship is dangerous because it could lead to conflicting loyalties.  I would like to compare it to one’s loyalty to a parent and spouse: an individual is bound to one by nature, and to the other by choice. One can love both equally strongly, but in different ways.”

Dr Anuradha Sunil, a General Physician living in Reading, UK for the past eight years and hailing from Chennai said, “I live with my 10-year-old son while my husband lives in India since he has businesses there. We travel between India and UK every 4-6 weeks. Since my son and I acquired British citizenship recently we have been forced to surrender our Indian passports. I am very upset about it. All our family members, relatives are based in India. The OCI card is no consolation and I feel my son has been stripped of his birthright to be a proud Indian. My father who is a farmer is distraught that his children will not be able to own a part of the ancestral land.”

Mrs Bagyalaxmi Naidu living in Trichirappalli said, “I am an Indian national and three of my four children live in the US and UK. My husband and I have large areas of agricultural lands as our ancestral properties. My children have acquired foreign citizenship and we are quite unhappy that my children and grandchildren are made to forego their Indian citizenship. Being an Indian is an emotionally sensitive issue for us. It is very upsetting that my children and grandchildren will not be able to own our ancestral lands. It is high time that the government reconsiders and accords full citizenship status to people like my children.”

Baskaran Kumarasamy said, “Many Indian Immigrants in the UK are unhappy regarding the dual citizenship issue. Unfortunately, the Indian Government has not done anything to address it. We are in the process of taking further action and are planning to organise a protest outside the Indian High Commission.”

 

 
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