The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dual citizen demand

New Delhi, Feb. 17: India is considering a demand raised by non-resident Indians to extend the benefit of dual citizenship to people of Indian origin residing in the Netherlands and Sweden.

At the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas last month, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced dual citizenship for Indians residing in the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and some parts of Europe.

J.C. Sharma, secretary, ministry of external affairs, said: “The ministry has asked its legal committee to consider the possibility of granting dual citizenship to people of Indian origin residing in Holland and Sweden too.”

“After the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, we have received requests for dual citizenship from these countries also. But the laws of the host country should permit it as well,” he said.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) has launched a new division to leverage the global network of NRIs/PIOs by initiating an action plan to bring about a ten-fold increase in FDI (foreign direct investment) inflow from the Indian diaspora to $5 billion by 2008.

Ficci says approximately 65 to 80 per cent of China’s current FDI of over $40 billion comes from overseas Chinese. In contrast, India’s diaspora contributes less than 10 per cent of the current FDI inflow to India amounting to only $4 billion.

As part of another major initiative by Ficci and the ministry of external affairs, plans are afoot to attract investment by NRIs in India’s special economic zones. To attract investments in the zones, the ministry plans to grant special concessions (fiscal and others) and provide infrastructural facilities to interested investors.

Ficci secretary-general Amit Mitra said: “We would also work towards raising the inflow of overseas Indian savings to the country. We would like to double the current level of savings within three years’ time.”

Estimates reveal that overseas Indian individuals annually invest $24 billion in bank deposits, shares and bonds. India, however, attracted only about $3 billion of these savings in 2002.

The external affairs ministry has also constituted an advisory board comprising eminent leaders of the Indian diaspora to work jointly with Ficci’s diaspora division.

The advisory board will comprise 10-15 members, including a chairman, co-chairman and members. The board will include Rajat Gupta, CEO of McKinsey & Co, Lord Dholakia of the UK, and US-based Narpat Bhandari.

Lord Bagri of the UK, Hong Kong-based business tycoon Bob N. Harilela, Manu Chanderia of Kenya, professor C.K. Prahlad and Swadesh Chatterjee of the US are among those being approached to join the board.

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