Friday, September 11, 2015

On Acquiring Canadian Citizenship

Today (11th Sept-2015) marks the final step in a 10-year journey for my family, as we complete our quest for acquiring Canadian Citizenship- a process we started in Sep-2005
I write this with mixed feelings. When I woke up today I was an Indian citizen and by the time the sun sets today I will have become a Canadian Citizen having taken the oath of citizenship at a Citizenship ceremony in the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton after which I will receive the certificate of citizenship
The citizenship ceremony involves affirming to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada (the symbol of the government in Canada) and to faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian Citizen. (Note: The Queen personifies the state and is the personal symbol of allegiance, unity and authority for all Canadians). My wife, Anita and Rohan will be by my side as we together embrace a new identity as citizens of the first world. (Note:  My daughter, Ankita acquired Canadian Citizenship earlier this year).
Today will also commence a process of renouncing Indian Citizenship, surrendering our passport and (optionally) acquiring Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status and documentation. India does not recognize dual citizenship, hence they have devised this OCI status which equates us with NRIs in terms of financial transactions, property ownership and visa-free entry into India.
From a legal standpoint, this milestone for us means that henceforth we will travel on a Canadian passport and be eligible to vote in Canadian elections while losing the right to vote in Indian elections. The Canadian passport is decidedly more respected and accepted as it enables visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to over 177 countries. Other than that very little changes. Canada encourages landed immigrants to bring with them their cultural heritage and value systems from their land of birth and upbringing. Canadians are rightfully proud of the multiculturalism that is visible everywhere you look. So we will continue to be Indian at heart while also being Canadian in our outlook and worldview.

As the saying goes, you can take a person out of India but you cannot take India out of a person!