Visa Crunch

Indian Talent Shift: 881, 254 Indians Have Given Up Indian Citizenship Since 2015, Says MHA

The news of the recent appointment of Parag Agrawal as the new CEO of Twitter has warmed the hearts of a billion Indians. It is a subterranean shift that is taking place that is largely going unnoticed.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 8,81,254 Indians have given up their citizenship since 2015. The data published by the government in Parliament is a fascinating read.

In 2015, about 1,31,489 Indians renounced their citizenship. In 2016, the figure was 1,41,603, and in 2017, it was over 1,33,049. In 2018, there were 1,34,561 such ‘unpatriotic’ Indians who were no longer interested in keeping their Indian passports.

In 2019, the figure increased to 1,44,017, before falling to a more manageable 85,242 in 2020. As many as 1,11,287 Indians have renounced their citizenship until September 2021. Singapore, for example, has opened its doors to Indians. You can get residency there for a million-dollar and there are no further inquiries done.

Furthermore, Scandinavian countries have relaxed immigration rules, making it easier for Indians to relocate there. Above everything else, Indian IT ‘coolies’ are in high demand in the United States. “Indian ex-pats are happier with their working hours and live-in countries where new concepts of work play a more important role than back home in India,” says InterNations, a Munich-based global social networking site for ex-pat communities. “Indians have better work hours and a better work-life balance in other countries.”

As per InterNations’ Expat Insider 2021 study, 59 per cent of Indians working overseas migrated for their career, which is significantly higher than the global average of 47 per cent. Nearly one-quarter (23%) found a job on their own, 19% were hired internationally, and 14% were sent by their employer.

Only 3% moved to another country to start their own business, which is still possibly a bit higher than the global average of 2%. The average age of Indian ex-pats working abroad is 38.7 years, which is about four years younger than the global average of 43.1.

The gender partition among them is extremely unequal: 81 per cent are men compared to 53 per cent globally, with only 19 per cent being women (vs. 46 per cent globally).

Furthermore, they are more likely to work full-time (93%) than the global average (82 per cent). Indians working overseas have a high level of education: nearly nine out of ten have a bachelor’s degree (35 per cent vs. 33 per cent globally) or a postgraduate/degree, master’s (54 per cent vs. 47 per cent globally).

A further 6% have a PhD as their highest level of education, which is a fractionally smaller proportion than the worldwide average of 8%. Because India does not allow dual citizenship, those seeking citizenship in other countries must surrender their Indian passport.

Indians who give up their citizenship, on the other hand, can apply for an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, which allows them to live and even run a business in India. Surprisingly, the Indian government is unconcerned about this outflow, making the process of renunciation of Indian citizenship as easy as possible.

When asked if the government has simplified the process for Indians who want to renounce their citizenship and if it is possible to do so online, the Minister of State for Home Affairs in the Government of India, Nityanand Rai said, “Citizenship of India may be renounced under the provisions of Section 8 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 read with Rule 23 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009”.

And, yes, it is possible to do it online. One of India’s leading migration experts, S Irudaya Rajan, believes that this trend will continue. “So-called experts come from other countries and hold so-called education festivals, where they pick up and whisk away the best talent available.”

“While India spends money on teaching students (at IITs, IIMs, and other institutes), foreigners find ways to wean them away,” he says.

According to Rajan, it is past time for India to try to reverse the trend by offering citizenship to bright foreign students studying in India. “We need to find innovative ways to attract both foreign and Indian talent,” says Rajan, who also serves as Chairman of The International Institute of Migration and Development in Kerala.

Unfortunately, this appears to be a lone voice in a country where getting out of the country is top of mind for most people.

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