Making the OIC regime more liberal – editorials
Foreign Citizens of India (OCI) are slowly allowed to return to their home country. After the pandemic-induced ban on OCI holders, there should be some insight into the future of OCIs. “Citizen abroad” was always an inappropriate name since the holder did not have a status close to citizenship. They did not carry Indian passports, had no political rights and faced restrictions such as not being able to buy agricultural land. The fate of OCI holders has made it clear that this is just a long-term visa with grafted minor economic benefits, a convenience to travel, but not much else.
The OCI regime needs to be reformed to fulfill the promise of its name. Many of the economic constraints on an OCI holder make little sense at a time when India is chasing foreign capital and investment. Holders must have the same financial and commercial freedoms that an Indian citizen enjoys. More ambitiously, a path should be established with the idea of making OCI the basis for genuine dual citizenship. Given the size of the Indian diaspora, its economic and technological contribution, and the government’s adoption of ethnic nationalism, this should be a natural progression of politics.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act has standardized the principle of prioritized immigration. Dual citizenship can be initially negotiated with certain countries and weighted in favor of those with educational or economic qualifications. Over time, as India becomes more comfortable with the idea, it should expand and be treated as a natural component. The OCI system is at the crossroads. You need to change your name to suit your current status as a glorified visa or to become a forerunner of a passport bridge between India and your friends.