Should India grant dual citizenship?

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According to professor Arnett, Globalisation since time immemorial has led to the free commutation of resources and manpower across the globe. The diaspora that emerged as a result of various reasons including war, business, globalisation, economic and environmental development, has led us to question the essence of strong nationalism, and more importantly regarding citizenship. 

Globally, citizenship is recognised under two broad ways, namely ‘jus soli’ or citizenship by birthright, which means an individual is granted citizenship owing to the territory in which they were born which is prevalent in areas like the USA and ‘jus sanguinisor’ citizenship by blood which is extensively followed predominantly  in areas of Asia and Europe. This implies that citizenship is determined by the nationality of parents rather than the place of birth.

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Between the Government of India Act of 1858 and The Independence of India Act, the answer to the question of who a citizen is has changed radically through the times. At the time of forming the Republic of India on 26th January 1950, India and its citizenship was still in chaos. The citizenship act of 1955 and several amendments brought to it has finally recognised an Indian citizen as any person whose domicile is India and has at least one Indian grandparent or has been staying in India for a minimum period of 5 years. These provisions were laid in articles 5 to 8 of the constitution and its validity poses scepticism in modern times due to emerging trends of migration and globalisation among many other reasons.

Ever since December 2004, citizenship in India is determined by the fact that the person should have at least one grandparent of Indian origin in their ancestry. Such individuals are considered as People of Indian Origin (PIO). However, Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) recognises broader citizenship to people who are originally persons of Indian origin but are staying abroad. Such individuals are not involved in the election procedures and are not capable of running for public offices in India. But they can stay in India for long periods without issues related to visa. In recent years, PIO and OCI have been merged and are often used as a single identification card.

In India, as mentioned above, acts like the citizenship act, 1955 and articles 5 to 9 in the constitution identifies a citizen. According to article 9(1), any individual who by naturalization or registration acquires citizenship of another country ceases to be an Indian citizen. Hence, both PIO and OCI do not qualify as dual citizenship,  as complete Indian citizenship would oblige the person to abdicate the citizenship of any other country.

Why do we need dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship is essential in many cases where the individual has to move, stay or abide by the legal systems of more than one nation. Such a situation may be inevitable in cases like that of the marriage of individuals from different countries, children of such couple or children born outside India to Indian parents or in case of certain professional cases.
Also, in the current global scenario, a pro-dual citizenship stance by India, at least partially and with selected international partner states is significantly beneficial for India. A large proportion of the Indian population is dispersed across the globe. NRI income is a great source of Indian economy.  Enabling dual citizenship is beneficial on these levels also.

Why is dual citizenship discouraged in India?

Citizenship is, in essence, implied loyalty. In India, dual citizenship with neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, etc. is explicitly banned, owing to the border tensions as well as political reasons. Apart from this, the socio-political circumstances in India, raises several difficulties for dual citizenship, including factors like to whom, the citizen would pay taxes, what will happen in case of a war between the nations and what is the likely action when fundamental duties of the two nations clash at some point. 

Current options

The closest applicable option available is the Overseas Citizenship of India. Under this citizenship the following benefits are granted:
    Multiple entries, multi-purpose life long visa to visit India;
   Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India; and
   Parity with NRIs in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
However, this is not complete dual citizenship as it does not allow a person to vote.

Despite all these, India is still reluctant in granting dual citizenship. Considering the volatile situations present in India, this is more or less a right decision for the time being. However, India’s readiness for change, as observed in the legal developments in the recent past (post-1990s) gives a ray of hope. Dual citizenship is thus an essential and integral part of development in India in the long run; however, it is a step to be employed strategically and with prudence.

- Ananda Krishna

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Should India grant dual citizenship? Should India grant dual citizenship? Reviewed by EMN on May 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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