Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Non-resident Citizenship: That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles

Rabin Man Shakya
State Education Director, NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter

It is true that Nepal is in the constitutional crisis today. Whatever  trouble and agony the Nepalese  people are bearing today is mainly because of the stupidity and stubbornness of the ruling parties as well as the Terai Madhesi parties.

But one of the remarkable aspects of the new constitution of Nepal is related to a provision that grants non-residential citizenship to the non-residential Nepalese living across the world.

The new constitution of Nepal has included a provision to grant citizenship without political rights to NRNs who hold citizenship of countries other than SAARC nations. As per the constitutional provision, NRNs holding such citizenship will be ensured economic, social and cultural rights in Nepal.
This means that the NRNs can purchase and sell properties or engage in business activities in Nepal. Article 19 of part 2 of the new Constitution of Nepal dealing with citizenship states that NRNs holding citizenship of foreign countries excluding SAARC nations can be granted non-resident citizenship that will make them eligible to exercise economic, social and cultural rights as per Nepal's law.

However, there should not be any confusion that non-resident citizenship guaranteed by the new constitution of Nepal is not a dual citizenship. It is just partial dual citizenship.

Anyway, the provision of non-resident citizenship in our new constitution is a fait accompli. That means for the time being, at least, there is no option for NRNs except to accept it because that is the practical and real situation that the NRNs can not change right away. But NRNA should always be effortful in pressing the government and the parliament for the full dual citizenship in future.

More than 70 nations across the world including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan already have implemented the provision of dual citizenship with none or minimal exceptional prohibitions.

Just twenty years ago, we could not have thought about the non-residential
 Nepalese living across the world. Going to America, Canada, Britain Australia and so on  and settle down in those countries is something most Nepalese could not have imagined back then. I myself spent 10 years in the former Soviet Union doing my Masters and Ph D in Journalism. Back then, even going abroad for studying was considered a very big privilege.  Today going anywhere in the world is not a very big deal. I never imagined back then that I would end up settling in the US.

Globalization and global migration are taking place very rapidly. Millions of Nepalese have migrated to other countries in search of jobs and better opportunities owing to dismal economic scenario in Nepal.

In fact, as a result of globalization and global migration, it will be hard to find a country where a Nepali has not reached today.

Thousands of enterprising, educated and professional Nepalese have sought opportunities abroad. The new wave underscores the evolving nature of globalization. However, no matter, where they go or settle, a Nepali always remains a Nepali.

There is no doubt that NRNA should be  the common platform of the Nepalese people living abroad. It should champion the common cause  and interest of the Nepalese living abroad, not just the interest of the nouveau riche, entrepreneurs and technical experts.

Today,  Nepalese diaspora living abroad have some kind of impact and influence on the entire rural and urban lives of Nepal. In fact, non-resident Nepalese have become a house-hold word in Nepal.

There is no doubt that NRNA should not be a political platform and  NRNs should not be contracted by viruses of political maneuvers and bickering. But it goes without saying that there should always be cordial and harmonious relations between the state and the NRNA. At the same time, the state must play a pro-active role to facilitate and encourage the NRNs to create create jobs and augment the national economy.

It is to be noted that the seventh international convention of NRNA was held Oct 14-17, 2015 in Kathmandu in which 1127 NRN representatives from across 52 countries of the world had taken part.

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