Sunday, February 08, 2004

NRIs in India - right or wrong

Few years ago, a mere glance at the "bridegroom wanted" column in the local personals would have been a very good indicator of the IT boom that was sweeping through India. And then the bust heralded a down trend in the frequency of such ads with the foreign returned/settled techie's going down in the charts. This period also saw a marked increase in NRI's coming in droves to India with their investing dollars/pounds etc.

The government soon recognized the spending power of these pseudo-Indian citizens and started several measures to woo them, the annual PBD etc. Of late, the government is talking about giving voting rights to these NRIs, much alike the votes that Americans on national duty are eligible for. This at a time, when even the American government is talking about the (in)feasibility of ensuring the validity of such votes in this age of chads and hung electorates.

I am not degrading the status of the NRI, but a NRI claiming rights in both India and the country of his origin does not appeal to me as morally right. I mean, a NRI has voluntarily left the country of his birth only because he thinks that the conditions are detrimental to his progress or are slowing his progress - the classic case of the other side of the ocean having the greener pasture. So now when you find the grass is dying now, you can come back to the original grazing ground, but obviously you can't expect to get the same territory that you had earlier - meaning you can't demand things that half the people who stayed back and fought against the conditions, who started the gold rush in the first place.

I am not saying that these ppl dont deserve what the government is offering in a platter, but only that these efforts can be worthwhile if the targetted audience is different. Its the NRI's moral right to give something back to India. Not every NRI came abroad as a indentured laborer. So is it proper to leave when the going gets tough and come back only to cash in to a boom?

I think its not and its not becoming of a national government to give out rights like that freely. The situation does not demand that. It's not that NRS's are denied rights like these in the nation of their adoption. So the need to heap it on them in India is just not there. Will saner heads in the Vajpayee government prevail in this issue?

My take on this matter is that, we are in such a position that we can institue a system like the american green card system, for these NRIs. If you want (not that the NRIs are fighting for these rights that the BJP government is falling over to provide) to get some rights in modern day India, move to India for a couple of years, pay the taxes (at least token taxes) just like the average tax payer and contribute to the GDP with not just overseas money but with your sweat and flesh.

It might look like India is persecuting its own kin but it is just fair that we expect them to provide some inputs for the same rights that we as citizens of India get. And the main input for the government is taxes and its just fair that these taxes be paid by every qualified Indian citizen, even if the citizen is an NRI.

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