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Petition Tag - oci
Hon’ble Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Hon’ble Shri P. Chidambaram, Minister, Home Affairs, India
Apropos, the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas slated for January 7-9, 2011 in New Delhi - the Manipuris all over the world join the 24 million strong Indian diaspora to welcome the initiative to lay an elaborate platform for growth of Indians domestic and abroad. We are happy to note that India’s North East Region will be focused during this event and that the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) is an organiser.
While we acknowledge the special efforts of the government of India to boost the economic development of India’s backward NE Region, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that some of India’s archaic policies remain conflicting many of the new development initiatives in the Region defeating their purposes and objectives. One such policy potentially stopping the Manipuris from benefitting from the new programs of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is the Protected Area Permit (PAP).
PAP restricts the visit of foreigners to Manipur. It restricts even the overseas Manipuris born in India who wish to visit their home state, Manipur. The purpose of PAP as stated by the Indian Home Ministry is “protection of culture” of the people in certain places in the country. We do not understand in what way foreigners visiting Manipur for business or tourism can harm the Manipuris while they cannot do this to other Indians. In this age of globalization, the physical segregation of the people in Manipur from the overseas Manipuris and other foreigners does not relate anything to the protection of their culture. Rather, keeping them barricaded from foreigners will diminish their competitive abilities resulting in a crippled population. Manipuris have endured two millennia long history of their own, professed rich culture and performed illustriously in many fields at any level. They need exposure to a wider arena of competition and not protection in an enclosure to sustain their heritage.
PAP obliterates the rights and privileges of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) or Person of Indian Origin (PIO) as these apply to the Manipuris. With OCI an overseas Manipuri will not have the right to freely visit and stay in his or her homeland in India while other overseas Indians enjoy these privileges. Even obtaining PAP by an overseas Manipuri for visiting Manipur sometimes poses an insurmountable problem as its application process is incongruous with that of visa timing.
The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Ministry of DoNER, and MOIA are trying to create grounds for attracting investments from overseas Indians and foreigners in tune with India’s robust growth in all spheres. We assert that Manipuris in Manipur and elsewhere deserve a fair role in this cherished program. We fear that in the present circumstances, the progress India wants to make in the NE Region will go lopsided favouring the states without PAP in the same region while Manipur remains hamstrung by it. PAP makes India’s genuine efforts to help its diaspora an unfair play leaving Manipur deprived of the opportunity. India’s “Look East” policy envisages a large scope of interactions between India and various peoples and governments of the South East Asian countries through the North East corridor. PAP will significally fetter all steps in this initiative.
In spite of its beauty, natural resources and vivacious people Manipur had to witness a general decline in value system among its populace during the past four decades of its socio-political strife. Perhaps a paradigm shift may be required in India’s development approach in the NE Region from the subsidy dispensing mode to a capacity building one. Removal of PAP is one essential step in this line.
We are concerned that PAP opposes India’s commitment of equality of rights, privileges and opportunities to its citizens as enshrined in its democracy.
Based on the reasons described above we strongly believe that removal of PAP from Manipur is a socio-politically and economically sensible act for the Government of India.
Various government reports state there are approximately 250,000-350,000 cases of child abduction in the United States each year. Annually, over 10,000 of these cases involve American children abducted by parents to foreign countries because of bitter custody disputes between multi-national or multi-cultural couples. Sadly, many of the children are taken to countries that disregard U.S. custody orders such as Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and China.
The painful consequence is American parents never seeing their children again. Exacerbating this horrific crime is an inept federal system that ignore the seriousness of parental abduction and continuously fails to take action to bring our children home. The injustice goes further. When a child from another country is abducted and taken to the U.S., American authorities have a 95% success rate of returning foreign children to their home countries. Why does our government give less attention to American children illegally held in other countries?
The crux of assisting other countries -- and not American parents -- falls on the lap of the U.S. State Department. According to a news report, the government often places diplomacy above the needs of American children and their parents. U.S. Senate and U.S. House committees have heard testimonies from parents of abducted children about the unprofessional, inadequate, and lethargic effort by the U.S. State Department's dysfunctional Office of Children's Issues (OCI), which is the designated agency handling international child abduction cases. A left-behind parent told a congressional hearing that OCI remains a problem rather than a solution: “This is shown by their lack of return correspondence, their constant turning over of personal, their ridiculously vague and soft treatment of violations by other Central Authorities, their inherent lack of knowledge and training regarding foreign laws, and their overall lack of concern for the parents they are supposed to support.” Besides the Office of Children's Issues providing little or no assistance to left-behind parents, the U.S. Justice Department needs improvement in handling this crime. A senior official from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children admits there is no one within the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) who is professionally trained to manage international child abduction cases. Reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office concur that changes are needed.
The answer is the Parental Abduction Recovery, Enforcement, and Network Training Act, also known as the PARENT Act. This proposed legislation calls for the transfer of responsibilities and funding, regarding international child abduction prevention, from the Office of Children's Issues to a new division in the U.S. Justice Department. This future division of trained prosecutors would focus only on interstate and international child abduction cases. The PARENT Act concentrates on a better distribution of resources to educate legal, judicial, and law enforcement officials by using professional organizations connected to child abduction prevention across the country. The PARENT Act also calls for the need of mediators to help resolve abduction cases as well as greater jail sentences for abducting parents.
It is time to stop the Office of Children’s Issues from mishandling its international parental abduction prevention duties. Thousands of parents, grieving over the loss of their children, have been ignored, neglected, and mistreated by this office. We need an agency that doesn’t cater to foreign officials and makes empty promises, but takes aim at protecting our children and enforces our parental rights. Consequently, we need experts to handle one goal, bring our abducted children home. The PARENT Act calls for Congress to make this a reality.
For a review of the PARENT Act, please go to: