Is Dual Citizenship necessary in India – the debate continues
Every country has a different legislative and judiciary system and distinctively different laws. However, sometimes these laws might appear quite taxing for the citizens.
One such rule is related to the provision of dual citizenship. India does not grant the provision of dual citizenship to anybody. This means you are eligible to enjoy citizenship rights in India only if you do not have citizenship of any other country in the world. The moment you opt for citizenship of a different country, you will lose your legal status of being an Indian citizen.
However, there is a flip side to the coin too. The Indian Constitution grants dual citizenship (OCI) to people of Indian origin who have denounced Indian citizenship sometimes back and opted for citizenship of countries other than Bangladesh or Pakistan.
But there is another condition that has been applied here; this dual citizenship will only be given to these Indians if their home countries also have similar provisions.
According to a law passed in August 2005, the Indian Constitution can even grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) to Indians who have migrated to foreign countries for specific reasons but have not opted for citizenship of the destination country.
But the country has a strict ‘No’ in the question of granting dual citizenship to anybody under any condition. According to a report presented in the Rajya Sabha in 2022, approximately over 225,000 Indians had to give up their Indian citizenship in the same year as they pursued citizenship in a different country.
Now the question that sets the debate is whether dual citizenship is really necessary in India or not?
Many people who have been forced by the circumstances to give up Indian citizenship feel that it is high time the Indian Constitution gives serious thought to this issue.
The world has become globalized and everybody has the right to explore better career options abroad.
If skilled Indian workers continue their Indian citizenship even after migrating, the fear of the expiry date of the visa will always haunt them.
The logistical fetters will compel them to either keep on applying and reapplying for visa extensions or forgo their Indian citizenship and accept the citizenship of the destination country.
Ultimately, these Indians get forced to prioritize their career over their citizenship and let go the Indian citizenship.
This sliver of the Indian population thinks that this is an obstacle to the growth of India. If the skilled Indian workers would have been given dual citizenship, they could have helped the Indian economy by earning foreign currency.
Moreover, if two skilled workers from two different countries are compared then it will be found how this typical regulation on Indian citizenship is hampering the growth prospects of the Indian worker. The skilled Indian labourer has to stay back in India because he is afraid of letting go of his Indian citizenship.
On the other hand, the other worker belonging to a country that allows dual citizenship will have much more scope for progressing career prospects and enriching his career simultaneously with enjoying the privilege of holding the citizenship of his home country.
Judging from these standpoints in favour of dual citizenship, the bill presented by Dr. Shashi Tharoor in the Lok Sabha to amend the citizenship rights and allow dual citizenship appears a very significant issue that the Indian Constitution must consider.
But if you look at the other side of the coin and try to gauge what may be obstructing the Indian Constitution to disallow dual citizenship so far, you may find some questions very confusing. Some of these questions against dual citizenship rights are:-
- If there is a war between the host and destination country, how will individuals owning dual citizenship choose whom to fight for?
- How is the person supposed to behave and whom is he supposed to support if the social structure and ideologies of his host and destination countries differ drastically?
- Considering that the legal framework of the host and destination countries granting dual citizenship are different, how will a person be trailed if he commits a crime in one country and escapes to the other one?
- How is the person supposed to decide which country is he expected to pay his taxes?
While some countries are totally open about granting dual citizenship of any other country to its population, some countries are selective in this regard.
Nevertheless, the rules in India are quite stringent in this matter and all we can do is wait and watch.
Kolkatta Bureau Chief
Ms. Shail Raghuvanshi