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Modi at Madison Square Garden: PIO cardholders to get lifetime Indian visa

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New York/New Delhi (Sept 28, 2014): In an announcement that will bring cheer for People of Indian Origin (PIOs), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that life-time visas will soon be given to PIO card holders.

Acknowledging the problems faced by the PIO community, Modi said, "We will also merge the PIO and OCI schemes in due time." He announced that PIO card holders staying in India on long-term basis will no longer have to report to the local police station.

Addressing a huge gathering at the Madison Square Garden, Modi also said that the government will look at providing long-term visas to US nationals visiting India for tourism purposes. Modi also announced that American tourists will be given visa on arrival.

The UPA government had decided couple of years back to merge the cards but could not make it a reality. ET had learnt some days earlier that principal secretary to the PM Nripendra Misra had convened a meeting of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs officials to brainstorm the matter.

It was decided that there will be a speedy implementation of the merger of the two cards to facilitate travel of Indians staying abroad and their participation in various activities in India.

America houses largest number of Indians anywhere in the world and many of whom have grown in influence and stature over the years. Indian Americans comprise about 2.81 million people, about 1% of the US population, the country's thirdlargest self-reported Asian ancestry group after Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans, according to American Community Survey of 2010 data.

At the Madison Square, Modi also pitched his 3D mantra to the Indian American community. Modi said, "We have democracy, demographic dividend and demand on our side." "These are three things that no nation has, except India. It is these three things that will take India to an assured path of success," Modi said.

"Just like Mahatma Gandhi made freedom struggle a national movement, we have to make development and progress a people's movement. 1.25 billion people should work for the betterment of India," Modi urged. "I am sure that now an atmosphere has been created where every Indian wants go work for the nation," Modi said.

"Like you, Mahatma Gandhi was an NRI. I implore you to do something in your capacity for the country," Modi exhorted.