Council for Strategic Affairs

Council for Strategic Affairs

ONE BHARAT, ONE CITIZENSHIP – Dialogue of Dual Citizenship

By Dr. A Adityanjee

Background

Bharat, that was India, is a civilizational state. There are very few civilizational states currently. Some have disappeared from the face of the earth. The mighty Persian state has gone, replaced by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mayan and Incan civilizations are extinct. Civilizations don’t die. They commit suicide. No one wants Bharat to commit civilizational suicide. That will happen exactly if Bharat were to approve dual citizenship. Indian constitution does not allow for dual citizenship. There has been chatter in official circles about deliberations on approving dual citizenship for Bharat. Some of it is encouraged or triggered by the Indian business groups and by the non-resident Indian lobby. 

Dr. S. Jaishankar while interacting with entrepreneurs at the TAKEPRIDE 2023 summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) stated that there are challenges to the notion of dual citizenship in Bharat while the debate is still going on. There are economic arguments as well as philosophical arguments in favor of approving dual citizenship in Bharat.

Introduction to Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

Human migration is a complex, multi-determined process ongoing for thousands of years and it cannot be controlled or stopped as it is dependent on a multitude of factors that include demographic, economic, religious, climatic, wars, famines etc. However that said, citizenship is a tightly regulated legal process by the Westphalian nation state that has bearing on the national security.

Philosophically speaking, if Bharat’s motto is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, there is no reason not to grant dual citizenship. Liberal argument would be to allow dual citizenship to anyone who has relinquished Indian citizenship because the borders don’t matter. Emotionally, this is a seemingly correct liberal approach but rationally it would open a can of worms.

Historically, persons of Indian origin (PIOs) were taken as indentured laborers by the British colonialists to their former colonies to work in the sugarcane farms and rubber plantations. Most of the NRIs who left Bharat are arguably economic migrants. Others went for higher studies abroad and got jobs overseas and chose to stay there. Some could not get jobs or academic placements locally in Bharat because of a culture of corruption, connections, and caste-based reservations. Since the transfer of power happened in 1947, the new rulers of Bharat adopted a regime of license, permit and quotas that did not encourage innovation or fair play, forcing citizens of Bharat to migrate abroad looking for opportunities that were not available locally. There is also a recent concern that many high-net-worth Indians (HNWIs) have chosen to give up Indian citizenship and acquired foreign citizenship for tax purposes.

Recent Statistics claim that as many as 6,500 high-net-worth Indians are likely to leave Bharat in 2023, according to the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023. This makes Bharat the second-highest country in terms of HNWI outflow, with China taking the lead with a net loss of 13,500 individuals. The report reveals that the top destinations for HNWI migration in 2023 are predicted to be Australia, the UAE, Singapore, and the US. Allowing dual citizenship will probably prevent such individuals from relinquishing Indian citizenship.

Having dual taxation agreements with some key countries can prevent this partially. Countries like the US, tax their citizens on their worldwide income. Hence, dual citizenship will not help such individuals because taxation rates in the US are high. There is an ongoing global discussion about some countries making money by selling their Golden passports and citizenship to high-net-worth individuals by investment schemes for citizenship.

A recent book by Kristin Surak suggests a $4 billion industry of worldwide network of lawyers, consultants and advisors who facilitate investment migration by selling such golden passports to millionaires. In fact, the US spearheaded this new phenomenon much earlier by starting a program of granting green cards by investment that leads to path to US citizenships after five years. Wars, political stability, higher taxes, and personal freedom to travel have always been key reasons for millionaires to migrate.

  • Many Russian oligarchs are starting to get Golden passports to escape US financial sanctions.
  • High net worth Chinese wish to have a second home because of lack of political freedom at home in the communist system.

The priorities of high-net-worth individuals are metamorphosing to their children’s prospects, the quality of their lives, and the legacies they leave. Wealthy Indians want to ensure that their children get higher education in top-notch academic institutions to pave the way for their success instead of being rejected locally in Bharat owing to caste-based reservations. 

Narayan Murthy famously stated in a CBS 60 Minute interview that it is more difficult to get admission in an IIT as compared to the MIT. HNWIs from war-torn countries always look for safe havens where they can raise their families. Half of the population of Ukraine has emigrated owing to the war. HNWIs are looking to migrate to places that are more resilient to climate change and that offer a good quality of life. Such economic citizenship may suit these persons temporarily, but such betrayal must not be rewarded by granting dual citizenship provisions.

To point a dialogue, The likes of Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, and Mihul Choksi who fled Bharat after committing white collar economic crimes and embezzling bank loans should not be beneficiaries of dual citizenship. 
Mother India lost her independence because of betrayal by domestic actors like Raja Jaichand, Raja Man Singh and Mir Jafar. There are serious security risks to Bharat as there are enemies states next door. People of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins should not be routinely able to acquire dual citizenship of Bharat owing to the grave security risk they pose. Similarly, one would not approve the agents of foreign intelligence agencies, like David Headly (Doud Gelani), Tahawwur Rana and Patwant Singh Pannun to be able to acquire dual citizenship of Bharat.  Similarly, there are too many enemies and strategic adversaries of Bharat and they may exploit the granting policy of dual citizenship making them to open the flood gates, creating a vacuum scenario and run the scheme quote dry.

We Bharat are already facing Chinese intelligence agents masquerading as Tibetan refugees in Bharat. China has managed to bribe Indian journalists into writing favorable media articles and provide sensitive information. We have had bad experiences with espionage operations by superpowers trapping intelligence personnel like Rabinder Singh and Colonel Ratan Sahgal. During the nineteen seventies, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi raised a serious concern that a cabinet member was working for a foreign intelligence agency. Declassification of the infamous Mitrokhin archives from the now defunct USSR’s KGB records suggests that Indian government was seriously compromised because of the bribes paid by the KGB to the ruling party functionaries and numerous leftist organizations. Intelligence operatives of another super-power admitted their role in assassination of former Prime Minster Lal Bahadur Shastri and renowned nuclear scientist Dr. Homi J Bhabha to prevent India from becoming a nuclear power.

In the last fifteen years, hundreds of nuclear scientists have died in India for unexplained reasons. Incidentally, the cook of the Prime Minster Lal Bahadur Shastri allegedly responsible for poisoning him; Tashkent fled to Pakistan and was being paid his pension by the Government of India. It might become easier for these foreign intelligence agencies to maintain and sustain their espionage operations routinely in Bharat if dual citizenship were to be allowed. Every counter-espionage action of monitoring agencies will lead to law-suites in the Supreme Court about discrimination and harassment on grounds of dual citizenship. Once dual citizenship is allowed, can one ever prevent a dual citizen from claiming the high constitutional posts like Prime Minister or President of the republic? Usually, the precedent of the US in allowing dual citizenship is invoked while advocating for the same in Bharat. In the US, that allows for dual citizenship, only a natural born citizen can become the President. Make no mistakes, the US with its strong-arm tactics and power for extra-territorial prosecutions can force other nations to extradite anyone for its own national security needs. Bharat is not in that league, yet. The “whole birther” movement instigated by Donald Trump was to deny legitimacy to Barak Hussain Obama from becoming the President. Similarly, doubts were cast on Senator Ted Cruz when he was contesting primaries again Donald Trump. Politicians like Governor Jennifer Granholm and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger could not hope to become the US president because of foreign birth/origin. Countries like the US allow dual citizenship and traditionally encourage migration from other countries. Interestingly, the US also taxes heavily its own citizens who want to relinquish their US citizenship and must pay a whopping 28% of their estate’s value to leave the country and relinquish US citizenship.

In Bharat also, this issue of birth of origin came to the fore when Antonia Maino (aka Sonia Gandhi) was tom-toming her credentials to become the Prime Minister of the Republic with the famous statement “Two Seventy-Two” after Vajpayee government was defeated by one vote in a no-confidence motion! Dual citizenship will allow Manchurian candidates to usurp the high political offices in Bharat while pulling the strings for their masters sitting abroad. There are serious questions about dual citizenship of a leading politician of an opposition party in Bharat who spends perhaps more time abroad than in Bharat under questionable circumstances. It is pertinent to question as to how these trips abroad are financed in the absence of any legitimate source of income. The question will inevitably arise; dual citizenship for whom? Will it be only for PIOs and NRIs or for any Tom, Doud or Hui?

We saw the specter of hordes of young Muslim males from West Asia descending upon western Europe in a preplanned manner to colonize Europe and alter demography. Conceivably, we could see a similar situation in Bharat. We already have millions of Bangladeshis, Afghans and Rohingya Muslims illegally squatting in Bharat. While the government of India still has not been able to implement the CAA for the persecuted minorities from India’s near abroad, there is no sense opening the flood gates of potential immigrants under dual citizenship scheme. There is already a mechanism for people of Indian origin (PIOs) to have the OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards and the NRI credit cards. Benefits of the OCI card are threefold: i) Multiple entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India; (ii) Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India; and (iii) Parity with NRIs in financial, economic, and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

To end the dialogue in right of vote and run for office; OCI cardholders, unlike NRIs, cannot vote in Indian elections and cannot run for high constitutional offices. And there is no rational reason why PIOs having relinquished Indian citizenship and would like to vote & run for higher offices in Bharat

Dr. A Adityanjee
President of the Council for Strategic Affairs. He is based in Cleveland, OH, USA.

Conclusion

However, To Conclude,  A bridge to dual citizenship from OCI cards is being talked about by the Government of India. It is advisable to take a more restrained and conservative viewpoint instead of succumbing to the demands by a rich NRI and PIO lobbies or for that matter by the CII or FICCCI for their demand of dual citizenship as it is likely to prove inimical to national interests. Mother India cannot be subjected to the betrayal by fifth columnists under control of the foreign spying agencies. Government of India must not become an inadvertent ally of the enemies of the nation by approving a dubious dual citizenship scheme.

To contest the thought, Dual citizenship is not beneficial for Mother India. There is only one Bharat and there should be only one citizenship in Bharat. If you stand on two stools, you are liable to fall. Let us save Mother India from the perils of dual citizenship and fifth columnists while there is still time.