New Delhi, Jan. 9: Laying out a red carpet for the vast Indian diaspora, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today announced dual citizenship for people of Indian origin but urged them to stop bickering to project the positive image of a united India.
“Our collective attention needs to be rescued from sterile controversies and trivial issues that dominate the headlines and focused on the real tasks to be accomplished so that India can catch up with the developed world,” he said at a gathering of 1,500 people of Indian origin at Pragati Maidan.
The Prime Minister said overseas investments would get a fillip only if the truth about India was told abroad in a “credible and effective” manner.
Then he added: “We do not want only your investments but we also want your ideas. We do not want your riches, we want the richness of your experience. We can gain from the breadth of vision that your global exposure has given you.”
But he made it clear that the citizenship legislation, due to be introduced in Parliament’s budget session, would be offered to Indian-origin people in “certain countries” only. He also hinted that a compulsory insurance scheme would be unveiled shortly for workers migrating to the Gulf.
Dual citizenship will give people of Indian origin the same rights as Indian citizens while doing business in the country which has relatively stringent barriers for foreign nationals.
Opening the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations, Vajpayee said one-sided pictures of India were often put out in the world. “You could project a positive image of India — not as propaganda but as true reflection of the reality on ground,” he urged.
“Groupings like Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi and Marathi associations serve a useful purpose in preserving linguistic skills and regional cultures. But it is also necessary to strengthen the broader Indian identity in the country of your residence.
“When you are united as Indians, your voice carries greater weight: both for highlighting issues of your concern in your host country and for promoting Indian causes. This is a truth of great long-term significance for Indian communities everywhere,” he said.