PIOs to get overseas citizenship
India will offer overseas citizenship to millions of PIOs, giving them opportunities to own land and property and invest in financial markets.india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 21:19 IST
India will offer overseas citizenship to millions of people of Indian origin, giving them opportunities to own land and property and invest in financial markets, an Indian diplomat said on Friday.
India's constitution does not provide for dual nationality, but due to longstanding demands by the Indians in the diaspora, the government has introduced a new 'overseas citizenship of India' (OCI) scheme to accommodate them.
Although the scheme is not offering full citizenship rights, officials say it does go a long way in providing them with a series of benefits on a par with resident Indians.
The scheme does not give voting rights or the opportunity to stand in elections.
"They will be able to freely invest in assets like property and land, excluding agricultural land," Rajeev Shahare, India's deputy high commissioner to Mauritius told a news conference.
"I've met so many people here in Mauritius who want to invest, but have not been able to do so - this will open up new avenues of commerce and trade," he added.
Around 70 per cent of Mauritius' population is of Indian origin, the majority of whom are descendants of indentured labourers brought to work in the sugar plantations during British colonial rule in the 19th century.
But the majority of Mauritians will not be eligible because the scheme covers only descendants of those who immigrated after January 26, 1950 - when India became a republic.
The scheme will benefit those living in the United States and Europe - many of whom immigrated in the 1960s.
Shahare said while there was an existing scheme called the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), which granted certain rights, the OCI provided more benefits.
"Under the PIO scheme, there were certain restrictions on things such as the amount you could invest, but the OCI is much more lucrative as you can have higher investments," said Shahare.
The OCI scheme will also provide a life-long Indian visa as well as exemption from acquiring residence, employment and student permits.