An Open letter to PM Modi of India
When we, I mean, NRIs/OCIs have contributed so much to the prosperity of India, why are we being treated as second class citizens? How are you going to justify as Overseas Citizens of India when you do not give us the same rights as any Indian citizen would get barring the voting rights?
Here is a case in point – demonetization of ₨1000 currency notes.
You give the citizens of India, who are in India, an opportunity to open an account to deposit up to 2.5 lakhs of rupees without even asking where those ₨1000 notes came from. We are overseas citizens, but did we get a similar form of support to deposit the ₨1000 notes that we carried with us when we left India to deposit them in our overseas countries of residency?
You allow us to carry a maximum of ₨10,000 overseas per person. A family of four would then legally carry up to ₨40,000 in currency overseas. If you calculate the number of NRIs and OCIs living outside India and carrying such legally allowed amount, it would run to crores. Did you give them the same provisions that you extended to the citizens in India to ensure their rights as overseas citizens of India are honored?
We are Overseas Citizens of India, right? It carries the underlying meaning that we are recognized as Indian Citizens living overseas. If you are meaning to treat the overseas citizens of India on par with the citizens of India residing locally, did you do your job as Prime Minister of India to treat all citizens of India as equal?
If you had thought that your job as a prime minister entitles you to such responsibilities, why were we let down so badly?
The amount we could have legally deposited could not have exceeded ₨40,000 at any time for a family of four. We were given time of three months to come to India to deposit the amount or find a person who can carry our money to India to deposit. Even after carrying them to India with them, they could not deposit them in their own accounts except exchanging them at RBI offices – not all offices but a few only. A simpler task would have been to ask us to deposit the money at a local NRI branch, providing all the details of the NRO accounts that we have in India. You could have limited this deposit to ₨10000 per person. The banks then could have surrendered the notes to RBI. This did not happen.
Even when we opted to send the monies with someone we can trust to deposit, the NRI banks in India did not have the directive to receive the deposits in such a manner. Even when the persons carrying such currencies into India (by declaring at the customs that they have them) to be legally converted to valid denominations, they were not allowed.
Now we are fast approaching the end of June 2017, a deadline set arbitrarily without any consultations with NRIs or NRI representatives. The monies we might have sent (a meagre ₨20,000 in my case) is sitting with my folks in India without any solution. The only solution that I have is to travel to India, collect the money from them and travel to Bombay to get it converted at RBI.
Is this how you treat us in spite of all the contributions we have made? Should not we have a basic right as OCI to be given an opportunity to transact the monies as any common citizen of India would be privileged to do?
How are you going to address our concerns beyond this arbitrary deadline of June 2017? Hope that common sense tells you that OCIs cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on airfares to come to India to exchange notes that does not even cover their costs of flying to India.
Do you have any answers for us?