Thursday, January 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Amartya, Naipaul may get citizenship
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8
More than 1000 eminent members of the Indian diaspora from over 46 countries will converge here tomorrow for the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, an annual event held in recognition of the significant role played by NRIs and people of Indian origin (PIO) in nation-building.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will inaugurate the three-day event and is expected to announce the much-awaited decision on the grant of dual citizenship to PIOs.

The decision to organise such functions recommendations was made by a high-level committee under the Chairmanship of Mr L.M. Singhvi which had suggested that the event be held every year on January 9 — the day Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa to lead India’s freedom struggle.

There had been a persistent demand from the Indian diaspora, which currently numbers more than 20 million, for the grant of dual citizenship.

Under the existing Indian legislation — Citizenship Act of 1955— Indian citizenship is automatically forfeited when an Indian citizen acquires the passport of a foreign country.

The PIOs, however, had pointed out that they were often forced to acquire foreign passports for functional reasons and this did not imply renunciation of their loyalty to India.

The Singhvi Committee had recommended that the dual citizenship with appropriate safeguards would facilitate the contribution of the diaspora to India’s social, economic and technological transformation and national development.

Those who were granted dual citizenship, would be entitled to all rights and privileges enjoyed by Indian citizens but would not be allowed to contest elections nor have the right to vote.

World renowned NRIs and PIOs such as Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and V.S. Naipaul, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Fiji Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, Prime Minister of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth, Minister of Works of Malaysia, S. Samy Velly, CEO of McKinsey USA Rajat Gupta and America India Foundation Executive Director Pradeep Kashay are among those who will participate in the event.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan and Defence Minister George Fernandes will address the conference.

The Prime Minister will present the Bharatiya Samman Awards to eminent PIOs.

The three-day conference will have parallel sessions on education and human resource development, information technology, media, literature, voluntary sector, financial services, healthcare, defence and tourism.


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