Indian minister V. Muraleedharan receiving the memorandum of concerns from Indian Cultural Forum members in the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Indian expats in the UAE have requested their home country government to simplify the rules for adding the surname to passports bearing only the first name.

Representatives of a community group submitted a memorandum in this regard to India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan during his three-day visit to the UAE last week.

The office bearers of the Indian Cultural Forum (ICF) Dubai, a recently established community group that promotes cultural ties between India and the UAE, and works for the welfare of Indian expats, placed the request to the minister.

“We took up this issue with the minister as there are huge procedural delays and expenses in adding surname to a given name in some cases, especially in the case of Indian children born here,” Remesh T.R, chairman of ICF, told Gulf News.

He said the issue came to light when many Indian expats with single names in their passports rushed to add their surnames last month after Indian airlines said they had been instructed not to fly passengers with only single names in their passports. The guideline was changed subsequently by allowing entry to passengers with visas issued in more than one name and those having their father’s or family names in the passport.

Widespread impact

Remesh said the development brought to light concerns related to adding surnames in Indian passports.

“It affects not only the airline passengers as per the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s guidelines, but also NRIs (Non Resident Indians) in several countries where surnames matching with the ones in the passports are mandatory to receive several services including courier packages.”

In the memorandum submitted to the minister, ICF has pointed out that in the case of some Indian children born in the UAE, birth certificates were obtained earlier in single names. Accordingly, passports were issued in the same name, without a surname.

The memorandum pointed out that the current guidelines on “change of name” were specifically designed for newly wed women or divorced women. “Embassies are advising [Indian] nationals to follow these guidelines, which is next to impossible,” the document adds. Also, there is no separate guideline for “adding surname”.

The Ministry of External Affairs has been requested to issue suitable guidelines to allow the renewal of amended passports without delay and procedural difficulties. According to ICF, it takes about two months in completing the procedures and getting the surname added in many cases.

What are the suggestions?

The ICF memorandum put forward suggestions for speeding up the process of adding surnames in passports.

The first one is to allow the splitting up of the name already given in the place of ‘Given Name’ if it consists two or more names.

For example, Varunshankar can be split into two and Shankar can be added as the surname of Varun. Similarly, Saaj Praveen in Pravda Saaj Praveen can be used as surname while retaining Pravda as the given name.

The second request was to allow addition of father’s or mother’s name or their surname as the surname of the child if the child’s passport contains these particulars in the parents’ columns.

The memorandum sought to make these changes based on a simple affidavit to be submitted by the applicant, along with attested copies of parents’ passports at the outsourced service centres of Indian missions.

“Our request is only to include the names that are already given in one’s passport in the place of the surname. Ideally, that should not require tedious and expensive procedures involving multiple documents and attestation from various Indian and UAE departments and newspaper advertisements that are currently required for changing the name in the birth certificate and adding surname in passport,” said Remesh.

The memorandum also welcomed any other measures considered suitable by the Ministry for facilitating Indian children to get appropriate residence visas and travel permission in their respective countries of residence.

Ramesh Mannath, president of ICF; Manikandan Meloth, patron, Radhakrishnan, secretary; and Mini Manikandan, convenor were also present to submit the memorandum to the visiting minister.

PBD volunteers honoured

Minister Muraleedharan also honourned the volunteers of Indian People’s Forum (IPF) UAE and FOI Events who played a pivotal role in arranging the highest number of NRI delegates to the recently concluded Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) NRI convention, IPF said in a press release.

This year, India hosted the 17th PBD event in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, earlier this month with a total of 3,000 NRI delegates from around the world. According to the Indian Consulate in Dubai, around 800 delegates from the UAE attended PBD - the highest from any country at any PBD event.

Volunteers of Indian People’s Forum (IPF) UAE and FOI Events were honoured by Minister V. Muraleedharan for their role in mobilising delegates for the recent Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) NRI convention in India. Image Credit: Supplied

IPF and FOI volunteers played a major role in mobilising the delegates, which included around 200 students and 100 blue-collar workers among others.

At the felicitation event hosted by IPF, Murlidharan thanked IPF and FOI volunteers for the exemplary work in taking forward the initiative to build a strong bridge between the UAE and India by making PBD event a success with a strong delegation. He called upon all the volunteers to make their work beneficial for both the UAE and India.

Speaking at the event, Jitendra Vaidya, president of IPF, thanked all the volunteers for taking care of the delegates and their needs all the way from the UAE to India and also while in Indore with all logistical support. He also thanked Pradeep Kumar for his effective role as team leader for the event.

He said that the UAE’s largest delegation was appreciated by most of the ministers, including Shivraj Singh Chavan Chief minister of the host state Madhya Pradesh, the release added.