July 4, 2011

A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)

Issue: X-8

July 4, 2011

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GOPIO is a community supported non-profit organization taking up issues of the Indian Diaspora and attempting to unifying the community in its common causes. Support GOPIO by becoming a Life Member or chapter member. Once can become Life Member online by visiting


When the new rules regarding the surrender of Indian passports upon acquisition of US citizenship were introduced by the Government of India Ministry of External Affairs in May 2010, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) expressed strong objections. GOPIO also objected to Indian Consulates charging $175 USD fee for surrender of old Indian passports and additional penalties for various "violations". GOPIO collected over 30,000 petitions and sent its objections along with the petitions to the Prime Minister of India. Based on the persistence and objections raised by GOPIO and other community organizations, on June 1, 2010, a partial relaxation of the rules was achieved and the fee reduced to USD $20.


Nevertheless, the removal of burdensome procedures and fees on Indians who became citizens of other countries was not addressed in a coherent, consistent and equitable way. As a result, during the last one year alone, there have been demonstrations, hunger strikes and thousands of emails to the Indian consulates, GOPIO and the government of India, yet the issue never got the full attention of the Government of India for a comprehensive solution as promised.


In January, 2011, a GOPIO delegation comprising of GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh, Executive Vice President Ashook Ramsaran and former chairman Dr Thomas Abraham, presented a memorandum to the Ministry of External Affairs and again explained the hardships and delays people have been experiencing in obtaining visa for visiting India and how such bureaucratic procedures are consequently alienating NRI/PIO communities. In particular, GOPIO wanted that the surrender certificate requirement should not be enforced in case of people who had obtained foreign citizenship more than 10 years ago as the Indian passports loses its validity after 10 years anyway.


On January 6, 2011, GOPIO held a conference session on this subject at its annual convention in New Delhi. A high ranking representative of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Additional Secretary B.K. Gutpa attended this meeting and interacrted with GOPIO delegates and MEA became more aware of the continuing problem (see GOPIO News March 25, 2011, or click and


In May 2011, a high level delegation from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)headed by MEA Secretary Dr. Ajai Choudhry along with Additional Secretary B.K. Gupta and Under Secretary Cherian Thomas visited the USA to look into complaints of the people regarding visa issue (see GOPIO News June 1, 2011). GOPIO met the delegation in New York, Houston and San Francisco and presented another memorandum including several demands to simplify these problems. some of these were included in the GOPIO's January 6, 2011 memorandum to the Minsitry of External Affairs.



It is heartening to know that two of the demands in the GOPIO memorandum have been accepted and have been implemented by the Ministry of External Affairs Indian with directives to all Indian High Commissions and Consulates. That is, (1) Elimination of surrender certificate from those who became naturalized citizens more than 10 years ago, and (2) An OCI application need not be accompanied by an original US passport.


The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has issued a circular to all Indian Missions/Posts as follows:


          (i)  Registration of surrender certificate: Since visa and other applicants (for consular services) of Indian origin are being put to discomfort by the request for surrender certificate every time they seek a service, all Missions/Posts have been advised to register the surrender certificate, electronically or otherwise, at the first occasion it is presented. Such a record will ensure that PIOs will no longer be required to produce the certificate on every occasion of approaching the Mission/Post for consular assistance.


         (ii)  'Deemed surrender' cases: In order to deal with instances where a Person of Indian Origin was in possession of an Indian passport that expired more than 10 years ago, and where in the intervening period, he/she has acquired foreign citizenship, all Missions/Posts have been advised to treat such cases as 'Deemed surrender.' On the production of documents showing the acquisition of foreign nationality more than 10 years ago, such persons will be issued 'deemed surrender' certificates, without causing the additional burden of producing passports which may not be in the possession of the Person of Indian Origin."


The Indian missions are currently working out the details of implementation with their own offices and through Travisa.


"We compliment the MEA high level delegation in accepting some GOPIO's recommendations and MEA issuing the directives accordingly. The elimination of surrender certificate requirement from people who have obtained foreign citizenship more than ten years ago, will not only stop the decline of goodwill in the Indian community for the Government of India but can also  reduce workload at the consulates," said Inder Singh, GOPIO Int'l Chairman.


"Now that the work load will be less, Indian missions in western countries and Travisa should finish off all the backlogs soon and make the process of getting an OCI card and entry visa to India easier for the Indian community," said Dr. Thomas Abraham, former Chairman of GOPIO International, who has been involved in this issue from the beginning.


"Finally, MEA has taken some steps to remove the difficulties faced by many who became citizens of other countries and desirous of visiting India or applying for OCI cards. This is a welcome action that removes an undue burden on former citizens of India and improves goodwill towards India", said Ashook Ramsaran, Executive Vice President of GOPIO International.


For more information on the new rules, visit the websites of the Indian missions.


GOPIO International can be contacted at +1-818-708-3885, Email:



GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.


GOPIO Individual Life membership is open to all who believe in the mission of GOPIO. The one- time fee is $5,000 for Platinum Life Membership, $2,500 for Gold Life Membership and $1,500 Silver Life Membership and half the amount for each category for those from developing countries and India.


GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world so as to network people of Indian origin all over the world. If you do not have chapter in your city, please visit GOPIO website (


GOPIO Chairman - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: 818-708-3885, E-mail:

GOPIO President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel:  +44 28-9807-8787, Email:

GOPIO Executive Vice President - Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York City, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail:



To become a Life member of GOPIO, one can sign up online at or fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO International, PO Box 560117, New York NY 11356, USA.

and get details of chapter initiation (visit Process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more.  For more information, contact:



Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder President and Chairman Emeritus, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)

Editors: Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO Executive Vice President (New York, USA)

Webmasters: Prashant Gupta (Hyderabad, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)

Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh  (GOPIO-Internaitonal)


GOPIO NEWS welcomes NRI/PIO related news items from all over the world. Be a volunteer correspondent or reporter. Contact Dr. Thomas Abraham, Tel: 203-329-8010, E-mail:

Visit GOPIO's Official site at or