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Dual citizenship for Indo-Trinidadians

india Updated: Aug 05, 2006 10:59 IST
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A University of West Indies professor is among the first two Indo-Trinidadians to receive the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards.

Rajendra Kumar Rastogi and Rinu Birla Totla received the cards from the Indian high commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Jagjit Singh Sapra, here on Thursday, according to a report in the Trinidad & Tobago Express newspaper.

The OCI card, launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the 4th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual Indian diaspora conclave, in January, confers dual citizenship to persons of Indian origin (PIOs) provided their country of residence allows such a status.

Rastogi, who arrived in Trinidad in 1974, married a Trinidadian and acquired citizenship shortly thereafter.

He is a professor in the department of food production in the University of West Indies' St Augustine campus.

Totla was born to parents who had emigrated from India to Trinidad. She recently married an Indian national and later moved to India.

Among the various benefits offered by the OCI card are multiple-entry, multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India and exemption from reporting to the police for any length of stay in India.

Meanwhile, according to the Express report, around 100 PIO cards have been issued by the high commission to Indo-Trinidadians in the past one year. The card carries 15-year visa validity.

The PIO card is issued to a person who had at one time held an Indian passport or whose parents, grandparents or great grandparents were born in and permanent residents of India. The person can also be the spouse of an Indian citizen or a PIO.

Indo-Trinidadians, most of whom are descendants of Indian workers who came to Trinidad and Tobago in the 18th and early 19th centuries to work as indentured labour in sugarcane plantations, comprise nearly 50 percent of the country's population of 1.4 million.

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