Earlier this year, I went through the process of getting my Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. Since India doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, every former Indian national, on acquiring the citizenship of another country, has to go through a painful process of first “renouncing” his/her citizenship (you actually have to apply for and receive a “renunciation certificate”).
Then, once you have that, you have three choices; travel to India on a regular tourist visa when you need to, become a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), which basically gives you a 15-year visa, or get your OCI, which is a lifelong visa. Since the OCI is cheaper than the PIO, and it’s a lifelong visa, I decided to get that.
And after much paperwork was sent in and processed (real, dead tree kind of paper), I received it.
It’s a neat little booklet, kind of like a mini-passport. But what struck me when I received it was that, much like my old Indian passport, the OCI card also has a field for my “father/legal guardian.”
In five days, I will have been married for 12 years.
I run my own business, do our household accounts, etc. etc.
Yet the Government of India needs to know who my father/legal guardian is.
There are many great things about my native country, but this inability to recognize that women of legal age, healthy earning ability, sound mind, and body, don’t need a legal guardian – even if on paper – is not one of them.
That independence is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given by the United States of America.
Happy 4th of July.