Local Goa News

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rijiju’s ‘authority’ may not grant ‘dual citizenship’

Panaji: The many aspirants to the Portuguese passport in Goa may have hoped for dual citizenship when Union minister for state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju promised to 'resolve' the contentious issue, while he was on a visit to Goa. But those who had asked why can't they hold dual citizenship, seem to be unaware of the complexities of allowing dual citizenship, and that their persistent demand for that elusive dual citizenship could only be pushing them in the opposite direction.
All Kiren Rijiju's central authority, to be set up in Goa, will do is seek to know from parents left behind, if they want to remove their names from the registers in Portugal to continue staying in India, and this exercise in no way will translate into any benefit in terms of dual citizenship, as imagined, for their offspring who are now working in Europe.
Reports that have followed have suggested that the central government panel set up for the purpose will allow individuals to declare if they have registered their birth in Portugal voluntarily, or if their birth happens to have been registered against their will.
The latter, reports state, will be allowed to remove their names from the records in Portugal and retain their Indian citizenship. This conclusion of possible 'involuntary' registration of birth in Portugal has been reached after politician Caetano Silva has argued in a case against him that he did not register his birth in Portugal out of his own will, triggering the row.
But if the central authority goes by this argument, a number of Goans who have registered their birth in Portugal only so that their offsprings could do the same and stake their claim to a Portuguese passport, will come under the scanner. In most of these cases, the parents register their birth in Portugal only so that their children can claim Portuguese citizenship, and they themselves continue to stay in Goa or India, while their offspring use their Portuguese passport to gain entry into the European union.
The Indian constitution itself does not recognize dual citizenship. Some argue that Goa is a special case. Unlike in British India, the Portuguese that ruled Goa claimed better treatment of Goans, mainly through their award of Portuguese citizenship to Goans.
Post-1961, this means that anyone with grandparents or parents born in pre-liberation Goa could claim Portuguese passport. This makes over 50% of present-day Goa eligible to claim citizenship of the European nation.
But even if Goans hope against hope that the central government would make a special case for them considering historical facts, it would require an amendment of the Indian constitution to be brought along the lines of the Constitution of the United States of America, to clarify aspects like barring dual citizens from running for or holding top or sensitive posts in the country.
Dual citizenship, when granted in the real sense, also means that individuals are liable for payment of taxes in both countries.
A section of Goans demanding rights of dual citizenship in India and Portugal (read entry to the European Union), may imagine it as the right to live, work, enter and exit between the two countries as they wish. But dual citizenship, even when granted by certain nations, has never meant such unconditional access.
The central government's authority on the so-called 'dual citizenship' relating to Goans too will eventually only mean stating in black and white if one wants to stay back or give up Indian citizenship in favour of the Portuguese passport. Last year, TOI had reported that everyday, nine Goans were giving up their Indian passports to claim Portuguese citizenship.
Even where dual citizenship is allowed, it is mainly in the case of citizens who were uprooted in large numbers for various reasons. In the case of Goa, India's provisions of citizenship are on the lines of other peoples who were colonized, like China and Japan.
Goans' migration is mainly for economic reasons rather than due to sentimental considerations. A Portuguese passport has always meant entry into the UK or other European countries that are economically better off than Portugal.
In any case, even today, most countries around the world do not recognize dual citizenship, but rather only derecognize a citizen, once he or she has acquired the citizenship of another country. And that is exactly what Kiren Rijiju's authority will seek to do — far from granting dual citizenship.

TOI Goa News

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