World Politics

To Accept Or Not To Accept: The Perennial Dilema Of The Indian Citizen

For a large number of Indian citizens working abroad, the initial teething troubles of settling down in a new country, quite distinct from one’s own, are only among the first of the myriad challenges that he or she has to put up with. Culture, weather, food habits, social and societal interminglings, language, customs, traditions, practices, etc. are some of the myriad challenges that a desi finds himself caught up in, leading to a situation where he or she is even constrained to question his or her wisdom in having moved out of his or her country in the first place.

However, ploughing through the aforementioned challenges with his or her steely resolve, he or she ultimately manages to blend into the societal framework, and in a matter of some time stretching to approximately over 5 (five) years, while being comfortably ensconced in their own cocoon, they are faced with the next big question as to whether they should accept the citizenship of the country they are now part of (excluding, of course, the Gulf regions).

The answer to this query requires a lot of introspection. For some, accepting citizenship of their country of employment and residence is quite painstaking, as they know that accepting citizenship of another country and, consequently, losing out on Indian citizenship is not all that easy to come to terms with.

For starters, unknown and unintended to most is the fact that upon voluntary acceptance of a citizenship of another country, their citizenship of India ceases automatically under Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, as there is, till date, no provision of a dual citizenship for an Indian, meaning he/she cannot be an Indian citizen along with being the citizen of another country. To make matters worse, immediately thereupon, a host of challenges spring up along with this automatic cessation of his or her Indian citizenship, like seeking a visa to visit his or her own country and dealing with immoveable properties involved in agricultural and plantation activities.

Fortunately, some of these problems faced by our former Indian citizens with respect to visas for travel in and out of India have been resolved through the introduction of the concept of the Overseas Citizen of India under Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, where certain categories of such persons of Indian ethnicity are allowed to register with the Central Government in India so as to obtain an OCI card. The said card helps such people with, inter alia, multiple entry visas into and out of India and non-reporting to the office of the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office). However, Section 7B of the Citizenship Act lists out all the said activities that such persons holding an OCI card cannot do and are proscribed from, which proscription includes being deprived of the right to vote and the right to deal in immoveable properties in India, related to agriculture and plantations, apart from being barred from holding a public office in India.

While the bar on such persons from holding public office in India is understandable and is also in sync with requirements in other developed Western economies too, what is beyond one’s comprehension is such former citizens being deprived of the continuance of their Indian citizenship, including the right to vote, which is a very basic rights, considering that by accepting citizenship of a foreign county, the said person does not cut himself away from India and to mistakenly assume that he/she does so, would only be unnatural, considering that such persons have families and properties here in India, apart from being a large part of the Indian diaspora who travel to India and remit moneys to India on a regular basis and these two acts should by itself, be a cause célèbre for just by these very actions of theirs, they contribute to, inter alia, invaluably enriching the Indian economy, adding the much needed push to help grow the Indian GDP and being responsible for making India to be the largest growing economy in the world.

It is in keeping with the said spirit, WFY has, while interacting with the lawmakers in India, organized a conclave on the said subject, on the afternoon of the 16th of January at the Constitution Club at New Delhi, India, under the topic “KEEP THE DOOR OPEN” campaign, to impress upon the Indian law makers, at the Centre, to discuss, in Parliament, so as to make an appropriate provision in the law, where the equally invaluable contribution of such global Indians and their meteoric roles in galvanizing world trade and economies is not sacrificed at the altar of a foreign citizenship, nor the intended benefits accruing upon conferment of their continued citizenship of India, not lost out on skewered and myopic thinking of erstwhile law makers who were never faced with such a crying and dire situation of ever so willing Indians and a Government seemingly unwilling to accommodate them into the folds of mother India.

Contributions and sponsorships for the said cause are more than welcome and can be sent at or on

It is in understanding and empathysing with this peculiar situation that the former Indian citizen finds himself/ herself in, that WFY is now taking upon itself to espouse the cause of such former Indian citizens who have involuntarily ‘lost’ out on their continuance of Indian citizenship for no fault of their own and who certainly cannot be faulted for venturing out to find greener pastures and consequently, the automatic cessation of his/her Indian citizenship, merely upon their accepting of a foreign citizenship, is too harsh a ‘punishment’ to be meted out with, apart from such a ‘punishment’ being extremely disproportionate, reprehensible, insensitive and incorporated without application of mind, in view of the fact that these persons continue to contribute to the Indian economy in  myriad ways, in addition to being proud Indians. Speakers who are listed to participate include:

  1. P. Wilson: Member of Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu as a member of DMK and a senior advocate 
  2. Dr. Lauro Pfoze: Member of Lok Sabha from Outer Manipur (Naga People’s Front) 
  3. Giridhar Yadav: Member of Lok Sabha from Banka( Bihar), member of Janta Dal (United) 
  4. Naresh Bansal: Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from Uttarakhand (former General Secretary (Organisation) of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Uttarakhand) 
  5. Tirath Singh Rawat: Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, and former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. 
  6. A Narayanaswami: Member of the Lok Sabha from (current Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment of India) 
  7. Dushyant Gautam: Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and National General Secretary of the Bhartiya Janata Party (Haryana) 
  8. D. Raja: Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) (Tamil Nadu). 
  9. Sitaram Yechuri: Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and Indian Marxist politician; the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist); and a member of the Politburo of the CPI (West Bengal). 
  10. Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav: Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha and Secretary-General of the Samajwadi Party (Uttar Pradesh)

The said conference shall be moderated by a senior journalist, Shri. Vinay Kumar. The programme shall be screened live for all, especially the target former Indian citizens who form the global Indian diaspora.

Shaju Francis

The author is enrolled at the Bar in New Delhi, has his primary place of practice in New Delhi, and has been in active practice for over 26 years. He was awarded a scholarship at the Centre for American and International Law, Plano, Texas, USA, for participating in its Comparative International Course in the summer of 2014, inter alia, on the basis of his work. He is available at

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