The government does not propose to issue dual passports to Non-Resident Indians(NRIs). Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has ruled out the possibility, saying it is a “complicated issue”.
The government, however, plans to bring consular services at the doorstep. If Ravi is to be believed, instead of visa seekers knocking on consulate doors or having to wait endlessly for visas to India, consulates will stamp visas at the doorstep. This will be one of the major announcements at the forthcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (Conference of Indian Diaspora) to be held here in January next year.
In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, Ravi said: “The government’s decision is against issuing dual passports. It is not possible to offer dual citizenship or dual passports. There are many reasons, but all that I can say is that the government policy is against it.”
Refusing to give reasons for the decision, Ravi said: “No one can ask me why; there is no question of why. Who are we trying to help? All I can say is that the government will not even consider the proposal of dual passports”.
When asked that some countries had this provision, Ravi shot back: “Many countries may have such rules; we are a sovereign nation and are not obliged to follow anyone.”
As an alternative, the government is offering an Overseas Citizen of India card. “This is like the US Green card, which gives citizenship rights to NRIs minus political rights. Need I say more?” Ravi said. He is upbeat about the “government’s proposed consular services at the doorstep”.
“Visa officers will go to people once a month and issue visas. This will be possible when more consulates are in place”.
Ravi said Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had agreed to the proposal “in principle” and the finance ministry had given the go-ahead to open more consulates. “There are so many complaints about the poor service of consulates and India’s image depends on the efficiency of these consulates. It is not possible for people to spend days running around for visas. The Finance Minister told me he has no objection to new offices in different countries provided they were self-sufficient. The External Affairs Minister agreed that we must do something immediately.”
The government will also announce setting up of an NRI university in the Special Economic Zone: “The NRIs in the service sector cannot afford the huge fee which they are expected to fork out under the NRI quota. The government will provide quality education in medical, technical and engineering courses and I will announce it in January,” Ravi said.