• From: sbistcbangalore@xxxxxxxx
  • To: sbinews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 10:55:34 +0500

Global Indian homecoming

With the passing of the dual citizenship bill, there is a formal recognition 
that managing the Indian diaspora is not a matter of economics alone. 

In earlier decades non-resident Indians and others of Indian origin were wooed 
primarily as a source of investment. But the fragility of such economic bridges 
became very evident during the foreign exchange crisis of 1991. NRI funds were 
among the earliest to flee the country. 

In contrast, the cultural links with those in the diaspora have proved over the 
years to be somewhat more robust. There has been a very visible effort to 
develop the Indian identity of second generation Persons of Indian Origin. 
These efforts are routinely captured by television cameras with pictures of 
families waving Indian flags at cricket matches. Dual citizenship should help 
this desire to retain an Indian identity. And with the diaspora also becoming a 
significant source of funds for some political parties, it is hardly surprising 
that the bill found support among some opposition parties too. 

It is not that the bill has no critics. In keeping with the old mindset there 
have been murmurs about the actual economic contribution that can result from 
dual citizenship. Hindi cinema did not need this benefit to tap the diaspora 
market. But this is much too narrow a view of the issue of an Indian identity. 
This identity is worth nurturing for its own sake without having to come up 
with profit and loss accounts. A strong statement of Indian identity across the 
world will have an impact on how the world perceives India . A much more 
serious criticism of the dual citizenship bill is its inability to disregard 
geographical boundaries. The offer of dual citizenship to PIOs is limited to 16 
countries. The argument that other countries are a security challenge is not 
very convincing in a world where terrorists are known to have virtually any 
nationality. Security concerns have to be addressed at the level of the 
individual rather than the country of residence. Such a selective 
approach only serves to divide the diaspora. And that surely does not help the 
global Indian identity

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