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Dual citizenship

New Delhi, Dec. 30: The NDA government is “actively considering” granting dual citizenship to the Indian diaspora, which extends to 50-odd countries in the world, reports our special correspondent. The proposal mulls granting them an Indian passport and also allowing them to do business and buy property.

The issue, though not a new one, has again been revived in view of the Pravasi Divas - the largest congregation of People of Indian Origin (PIO) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) - to be held in Delhi between January 9 and 11.

Though granting dual citizenship along with an Indian passport has been one of the wishes on top of many PIOs and NRIs lists, the Centre may surprise everyone by fulfilling it this time.

Opinion is divided on whether an amendment to the Constitution is required for the purpose, or minor amendments to the Citizenship Act of 1955 will do. But indications suggest that the BJP government is more serious about the issue than its predecessors.

One of the main reasons for this may be that many of the key functionaries of the BJP living abroad - who also helped the party sustain itself during the difficult period in the 1980s –form the bulk of the Pravasis who will be arriving in Delhi for the gathering.

There are speculations that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may make an announcement at the function.

Indications suggest the three nodal ministries - home, foreign and law - involved in the issue of dual citizenship have now been able to narrow down their differences.

In the past, the Centre’s attempts at offering dual citizenship did not find many takers because it did not come along with an Indian passport.

But it is not clear what benefits and rights the PIOs would enjoy. Some feel they would still not be considered full citizens because they would not have the right to vote or join the Indian bureaucracy or the armed forces.

However, dual citizenship would provide many of them the advantages of buying property and setting up business in India.

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