The Indian NRI wants an issue related to the dual citizenship or free visa to be discussed at the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in order to ensure the new generation stays connected to India, the “mother country”, just like their parents and forefathers have been.
New Zealand member of parliament Kanwaljit Singh was the first to raise the demand at the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention on January 22 held in Varanasi. Singh’s sentiments were echoed by top delegates from other nations.
According to Hindustan Times news reports, Malaysia has a huge number of delegation at the convention. The delegates from Malaysia appeared to be more concerned about that issue, seeking to raise the issue before the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives here on Tuesday.
Karupaiya AL Mustami, MP for Padang Serai, Malaysia, said, “I will like to raise the issue of making a visa (for travel) from Malaysia to India free for the diaspora. We want our next generation to remain connected with the ‘mother’ country in the same manner as we have done so far.”
Mustami said, “A fee of 190 RM was being charged for a visa to India. This fee has been increased to nearly 500 RM now. Everybody cannot afford an Overseas Citizen of India card, as it costs about 1500 RM. The number of visitors from Malaysia to India is going down. We want this number to go up. PM Modi can take up the issue with the Malaysian PM.”
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi had earlier demanded that dual citizenship or free visa for Indian diaspora in India.
Another delegate from Malaysia said, “I agree with the point made by New Zealand MP. We Girmitiyas (descendants of indentured Indian labourers) are like Indian bride here. When the bride goes back, she gets return gift and we want union government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give us return a gift of free visa.”
And another delegate said, “Bakshi’s demand is justified. Most persons come here to visit temples or for medical treatment. A free visa will boost tourism and help the Indian community living abroad.”
However, the organizers claimed the best-ever facilities had been done at the 15th PBD convention in Varanasi, while some delegates asserted more issues need to be done.
Dr Sunil Sinha, a physician from the United States said, “No arrangements have been made to provide vehicles to participants to be dropped at the venue. Participants have to walk a long distance as their vehicles are being stopped at barriers put up at a distance. No assistance is being provided to people with disability. They should have provided a facility of golf cart etc. Moreover, hotels are charging double the normal tariff.”
“This is my third convention and a lot of participants here are not happy with the arrangements,” said Sinha.