Indian diaspora wants free visas or dual citizenship

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, an Indian origin lawmaker from New Zealand on Tuesday demanded dual citizenship or free visas to India for the Indian diaspora.

Karupaiya AL Mustami, a Parliament member from Malaysia’s Padang Serai, echoed Bakshi and said the diaspora should be given free visas to help their next generation remain connected with the mother country in the same manner as they have done so far.

He said the Indian visa fee for Malaysian nationals has been raised from RM 190 or Rs 3,286 to nearly RM 500 or Rs 8,646. “Everybody cannot afford an Overseas Citizen of India Card as it costs about RM 1,500 [Rs 25,939],’’ he said, referring to the card that allows people of the Indian origin to travel to India without visas. He said the number of visitors from Malaysia to India is going down. “We want this number to go up,’’ Mustami added.

Another delegatefrom Malaysia said the descendants of indentured Indian labourers in India are like brides. “When a bride goes back, she gets return gift and we want the Indian government and Prime Minister Modi to give us a return gift of free visas.”

Yet another delegate concurred with Bakshi. “Most people come here to visit temples or for medical treatment. Free visas will boost tourism and help the Indian community living abroad.” Separately, some delegates complained about facilities for the convention even as organisers said the best ever amenities have been provided for this year. “Participants have to walk a long distance as their vehicles are stopped at barriers put up at a distance,’’ said Sunil Sinha, a physician from the US.

First Published: Jan 21, 2019 23:58 IST

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