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Demand for Overseas Indian Citizenship Cards Rising
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Launched in January 2006, the Overseas Indian Citizenship card scheme has turned out to be a great success which is clearly evident by the rising demand for OCI cards.

OCI scheme has been announced at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2006. Since then, around 90,000 cards have been issued till date, says Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs.

As for the eligibility criteria, any Person of Indian origin staying in countries that allow dual citizenship can apply for the card. An OCI card holder is allowed to enjoy all the benefits as available to any Indian citizen except for right to vote and the right to hold constitutional posts like the president, vice-president or a judge of the Supreme Court or high courts.

There have been complaints from many countries about delays in consular services. Increased size of the Indian Diaspora is believed to be one of the factors accountable for the problem. However, the government is planning to come up with more consulates in countries where the population of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) has crossed half a million.

Another compliant of card holders is regarding the fee being charged for the places of tourist highlights. “The authorities are charging the fee that is applicable to foreign tourists and not the fee that is applicable to Indian citizens”, says one of the cardholders.

The government is trying to resolve the problem and the results will come soon, adds Ravi.

Another problem faced by Indians residing abroad is a technicality in applying for the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card.

As such, descendants of Indians who had migrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries have shown their inclination towards these OCI cards. Now, every PIO applicant is required to show the embarkation cards issued to their forefathers when they had boarded the ships to different countries. This is what every interested candidate is finding difficult to produce.

"We are consulting with the home ministry as it is a matter of national security and we hope to resolve this problem soon," Ravi said.