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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 7, 2019

Contested and Cemented Borders: Understanding the Implications of Overseas Indian Citizenship

  • Ananya Kumar-Banerjee EMAIL logo
From the journal New Global Studies


Although the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) schemes have existed for some time, they began to serve a political and economic purpose for the Republic of India with the arrival of the twenty-first century. The OCI status asserts “Indianness” as a legible quality in diasporic memory. It does the work of cementing political Indo-Pakistani and Indo-Bangladeshi borders, while coopting the language of transnationalism to bolster the fundamentally nationalist regime of capitalism at work in the Republic of India. The goal of this regime is to promote a functionally nationalist, and thus, anti-transnational reality. As more generations of South Asians live and grow up abroad, creating a legible “Indianness” functions as a service to the capitalist Indian economy. These individuals abroad are encouraged to identify as diasporic “Indians” who must engage with their “motherland.” Thus, the transnationalist discourse of decreasing territoriality is exploited by the Indian state to serve goals that function in ideological opposition to transnationalism. As this discourse of legible “Indianness” becomes more successful, there will be increasing incentives for the ruling party in India to further privilege OCIs. In the end, the language and capital of the OCIs affirms the powers of capitalism contemporary Indian nation-state.


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Published Online: 2019-12-07
Published in Print: 2019-11-18

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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