Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inaugural Address

By President Barack Hussein Obama

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you've bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation -- (applause) -- as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.

So it has been; so it must be with this generation of Americans. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many -- and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met. (Applause.)

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. (Applause.)

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. (Applause.)

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good. (Applause.)

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers -- (applause) -- our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake. (Applause.)

And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more. (Applause.)

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. (Applause.)

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. (Applause.)

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. (Applause.)

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the role that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who at this very hour patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service -- a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.

And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do, and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. (Applause.)

So let us mark this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At the moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words to be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)

The Constitution of India does not allow holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously. Based on the recommendation of the High Level committee on Indian Diaspora, the Government of India decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) commonly known as 'Dual Citizenship'. Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) of certain category as has been specified in the Brochure who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible for grant of OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws.

Persons registered as OCI have not been given any voting rights, election to Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha/Legislative Assembly/Council, holding Constitutional posts such as President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court/High Court etc. Registered OCIs shall be entitled to following benefits:

(i) Multiple entry, multi-purpose life long visa to visit India;
(ii) Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India; and
(iii) Parity with NRIs in financial, economic and educational fields, except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

Implementation and Application Procedure

Visit MHA OCI page :

1. Click Online registration and complete the form (Part A) online

2. After Part A is filled out, click save. A print window would appear. Click OK to print out the requisite application form consisting of Part A (which has been completed as online registration). The blank form of Part-B will automatically print itself along with Part A. (Print 2 Copy- Original and Duplicate)

3. Copy of the already registered applications can be obtained using REPRINT FORM

4. The applicant must then fill-in Part B, which should be preferably TYPED Alternatively, it may be handwritten in capital letters with Blue or Black Ink only

5. The completed application form (Part A & Part B) along with supporting documents must be submitted in duplicate (two sets) by mail to the Consulate

Four (4) color Photographs (size 3.5 cm X 3.5 cm), taken against a light color background. Two of them should be pasted on application(original and duplicate) and two stapled with the application.

The application fee for registration under the OCI Scheme is US$ 275. An additional amount of US$ 20 towards return mailing charges should also be sent along with a self-addressed envelope accompanying the application (One money order for $295 payable to the "Consulate General of India’ should be fine)

Send Application to Consulate General of India, 1990 Post Oak Blvd. # 600 Three Post Oak Central, Houston, TX-77056.

a) Copy of first and last pages/pages containing personal details of Indian Passport held by the applicant prior to acquiring foreign citizenship. Please do not attach photocopy of all pages of the passport.


Birth Certificate in case of minors and applicants born outside India who did not possess Indian Passport; and copy of Indian passports of parents or grandparents (pages containing personal particulars only) where applicable (please do not attach photocopy of all pages of passport

b) Copy of US or current nationality Passport. (Please attach copies of pages containing personal particulars only).

c) Photocopies of all documents enclosed with the application may either be notarized or self attested i.e. signed by the applicant himself/herself.

Application Process
1. Use the Postal tracking number to confirm receipt of application at the Consulate.

2. Status of the OCI card can be tracked at

3. Allow 30days to acknowledge the application and for online status inquiry

4. The status report will show dates of "Registration Status", "Documents Printing Status", "Documents Printed On", "Documents Dispatched to concerned Mission/Office on" and "Documents Received at".

5. Once the application is GRANTED and the documents arrived back at Houston, send both passport to Consulate to complete the process. While mailing passport do not forget to write the file number in a covering letter along with the passport(s).

6. OCI visa will be stamped on the US passport and along with a ‘Cancelled’ stamp on the Indian passport


Q. Will a new OCI visa sticker be issued on the new foreign passport after the expiry of the old passport?
A: Yes. On payment of requisite fee, a new OCI 'U' visa sticker will be issued. However, the applicant can continue to carry the old passport wherein OCI 'U' visa sticker was pasted along with new passport for visiting India without seeking a new visa, as the visa is for life long.


Suggestions/representations have been received from Indian Missions/Posts and registered OCIs regarding facilities/procedures for re-issuance of OCI registration certificate/visa in certain situations viz:
(i) In case of issuance of new passport.

(ii) In case of change of personal particulars viz. nationality etc.,
(iii) In case of loss/damage of OCI registration certificate/visa.
(iv) In case of filling of wrong personal particulars while submitting online applications viz. name, father’s name, date of birth etc.,
(v) In case of manually filled in applications (discontinued now) mistakes have been committed by the Indian Mission/Post/Office while entering the personal particulars.
(vi)In case of change of address/occupation

I. In case of issuance of new passport
OCI registration certificate and visa carries the passport number of the registered OCI. Accordingly, each time a new passport is issued to an OCI holder; it has to be captured on the registration certificate and visa. This would require re-issuance of OCI registration certificate and visa each time a new passport is issued. However, as the major benefit of OCI Scheme is lifelong visa to visit India, problems arise each time a new passport is issued. In some countries old passports are not returned. Further, in many countries, the validity of passport is for 5 years. To obviate these difficulties, the following scheme has been incorporated:

(i) Up to the completion of 20 years of age, OCI documents have to be re-issued each time a new passport is issued.
(ii) After the completion of 50 years of age, OCI documents have to be re-issued once after issuance of a new passport.
(iii) Between 21-50 years of age, there is no need to seek re-issuance of OCI documents each time a new passport is issued. However, if the applicant desires, he may avail the service for re-issuance of OCI documents.

A software module has been developed by NIC named as OCI Miscellaneous Services. The public interface for this has been hosted on MHA’s website: MHA OCI Page. The procedure to be followed by the applicant is as under:

(1) After accessing the OCI Miscellaneous Services and going through the Guidelines and Instructions for filing the application form, the applicant has to fill in at least one of the following data fields:
(i)U-Visa number
(ii)OCI Registration number
(iii)OCI File number

(2)Thereafter, the applicant has to fill in all the following fields:
(i) Current Passport number
(ii) Date of birth
(iii) Place of birth
(iv) Mother’s name

The applicant would be able to proceed ahead and seek the particular service(s) only if, the above data (except 2 (i) above) matches with the OCI database. This feature has been incorporated as a security measure so that the scheme is not misused.

3)The applicant thereafter has to select any one or many of the following services:
(i)Change of Passport particulars
(ii)Change of Personal particulars
(iii)Loss/damage of OCI certificate/visa
(iv)Change of Address/Occupation

(4)After selection of the service(s) to be availed, a Registration Form will appear having only the relevant fields, which need to be entered as per the services(s) sought. The applicant has to fill in all the relevant fields afresh online. The reasons for availing the services shall also be filled by the applicant.

(5)Upon submission of the Registration Form, a hard copy of the application with Reference number along with the instructions for filling application form shall be printed. The applicant has to sign the application form, paste the photograph and append his signature in the box provided and submit one copy of the application form along with the relevant enclosures and fee as mentioned in the instructions. The application can be submitted to the Indian Mission/Post/Office in whose jurisdiction the applicant is ordinarily residing irrespective of the fact whether the same Indian Mission/Post/Office has issued the original OCI documents or not. Each applicant shall submit separate application form.

No hard copy of the application shall be generated in case of change of address/occupation since no application needs to be submitted to the Indian Mission/Post/Office.

(i) Copy of OCI registration certificate and visa

(a) In case of issuance of new passport, copy of U-visa pasted on the old passport along with copy of registration certificate has to be enclosed. If the old passport is not returned by the concerned authorities while issuing new passport and copy of the U-visa had not been taken prior to the surrender of old passport, they may not be enclosed. A copy of new passport also to be enclosed.

(b) In case of loss of OCI Registration Certificate and/or Visa, copy of the complaint lodged with Police authorities and copy of visa and registration certificate to be enclosed. If a copy of the registration certificate and/or visa was not taken prior to the loss, they may not be enclosed.

(c) In case of change of personal particulars (due to change by the applicant or wrong filling of particulars by the applicant or Indian Mission/Office), copy of the document (s) relevant for affecting the requisite changes viz. Nationality Certificate in case of change of nationality etc to be enclosed.

(d) In respect of the service for change of address/occupation, no hard copy of the application shall be submitted to the Indian Mission/Post/Office. Accordingly, the issue of Enclosures and payment of fee does not arise.

(a) US $ 25 by Money Order/Cashier Cheque drawn in favour of CGI, Houston for re-issuance of OCI documents in case of issuance of new passport, change of personal particulars, wrong filing of particulars.
(b) US $ 100 by Money Order/Cashier Cheque drawn in favour of CGI, Houston for issuance of duplicate OCI documents in case of loss/damage. (Both OCI registration certificate and visa shall be issued in respect of any/all service (s)).
(c)Mailing Charge: Please add $ 20/- to the fee towards return mail charge.
(d)Refund: No fee shall be refunded if the requisite service(s) are not granted.
(7)Submission of print out of online application

The print out of the completed application, duly signed, with supporting documents and fees (including mailing fee) are required to be sent by Mail only to:-

OCI Section,
Consulate General of India,
1990 Post Oak Blvd # 600,
Three Post Oak Central,
Houston, TX-77056.