India forges closer ties with diaspora

R. A. Hettinga
Thu, 9 Jan 2003 12:56:44 -0500

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Status: RO
From: Charles Evans <>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2003 08:46:25 -0500
Subject: India forges closer ties with diaspora

Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 07:39 GMT
India forges closer ties with diaspora
By Jill McGivering
BBC correspondent in Delhi

India's government has announced that it will grant dual nationality to
some of the 20 million people of Indian origin living overseas.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the
start of a high-profile three-day event in Delhi for overseas Indians.

The conference has been seen as part of a move by the Indian Government
to form closer ties with the Indian diaspora, which many see as a
powerful potential source of investment, support and influence.

Many Indians living overseas have been calling for dual nationality for
a long time.

Changing status

Although many of the diaspora maintain personal and  professional ties
with India, some complain that their status as foreign passport holders
has made both travel and business difficult.

For others it is an issue of personal identity.

Careers or marriages might have taken them overseas but they do not
want to feel estranged from India.

There are conditions attached.

The prime minister stressed that dual nationality was not an automatic
right and would only apply to certain countries, which have not yet
been named.

Some critics have accused the government of favouring ethnic Indians in
countries like Britain and the United States - people who might have
money to invest and whose political support for Delhi could carry

Help hindered

Twenty million people of Indian origin now live overseas.

Many here realise that successful overseas Indians could play an
important role in supporting India's development.

Many Indians living overseas already make a major contribution to
investment, charitable donations and lobbying on India's behalf.

But some complain their official status as foreigners has made it
harder for them to help.

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