Official data released by the Government of India states that since 2015, more than eight and a half lakh Indians have renounced their citizenship. Data also reveals that a record number of Indians gave up their citizenship status last year in 2021, close to one and a half lakh. Earlier, Dr. Amit Mitra, former Finance Minister of the Government of West Bengal had shared his concerns by taking to Twitter :
“35,000 Indian entrepreneurs of High Net Worth left India between 2014-2020, as NRI/Immigrants. India ranked no 1 in exodus in the world”.
Were these statements made out of political compulsions or was there some actual substance behind them? Argumentative Indians examines -
India, unlike some other countries, does not allow for dual citizenship - and all Indian nationals who acquire foreign nationalities are legally required to renounce their Indian citizenship. Although the law is not always enforceable, most Indians who acquire citizenship overseas do apply voluntarily. Indian applicants are inclined towards acquiring passports that offer better lifestyle and economic opportunities. These citizens also comprise the creme de la creme of India’s well educated population along with High Networth Individuals (HNIs) who seek residency in western countries through investment opportunities known as the ‘Golden Visa’. Estimates suggest that there has been a net loss of 14% of Indian HNIs as of 2019 and a mass exodus of another 8,000 in 2022 is expected. These HNIs include the educated youth and entrepreneurs who would benefit the country, were they to be given the option of dual citizenship.
The reformists argue that since India forms the largest migrant population globally, the country should look to harness their full economic capability by allowing for dual citizenship. Currently, Indians lead globally when it comes to sending remittances back home. A change could likely be beneficial for India due to the remittances sent by overseas Indians and the money they park in Indian banks as NRI deposits. Both these factors could help the country’s external balance too. Additionally, such a change in policy would also allow India to address its long standing issue of brain-drain to other developed countries. If India is to truly become a ‘VishwaGuru’ in the right spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, can it afford to exclude a sizable chunk of its hoi polloi just because they aspire for a better standard of life?
On the other hand, status-quoists are wary of conflicting interests for an individual when it comes to dual nationalities. For a country that has gone through the tumultuous journey of reclaiming its identity from the fangs of colonialism, those concerns are shared widely, including the leadership. Legitimate concerns for India to not accept dual citizenship is also attributed to the lack of an efficient taxation mechanism and the fear of outside interference in the country.
Additionally, it must be noted that the Citizenship Act which defines all aspects of citizenship in India dates back to a time when the country had just achieved Independence. Since then, India’s global standing amongst the comity of nations has undergone a transformational change. India and Indians are no more just content or concerned with Indians and India. Globalization has given citizens the opportunity to learn the benefits of migrating to developed nations. If allowed dual citizenship, this very diaspora could be the agents of change with their knowledge of global best practices in addressing the developmental changes that instigated them to relocate in the first place.