Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Critical Question: Should NRIs get voting rights?

“I recognize the legitimate desire of Indians living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a say in who governs India,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the tenth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet in New Delhi recently. NRIs would soon be able to participate and vote in Indian elections, said the PM. Meeting a long-standing demand of the NRIs, Singh said the Centre had issued notifications for registration of overseas Indians under the Representation of People Act. The PM also announced a new pension and life insurance fund for overseas Indian workers. He also underlined the role of Indians overseas in the development of the country and that the government would facilitate and encourage such an endeavor.

The tenth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas witnessed more than 1,500 delegates from around 60 countries while the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad Bissessar, of Indian-origin was the chief guest. But it is still not clear how millions of people like me would vote. Will it be postal ballot, internet voting or combination of both? I strongly feel that the government should make it transparent and corruption free, and voting should be allowed electronically or through internet .I think all NRI’s will have to raise their voice together if we really want to use our voting rights as Indian citizens. But many people back at home are raising their voice against this decision. They feel we don’t pay tax, so we should not be allowed to vote. But why do they forget that we are Indian citizens who have to leave our country for better opportunities. Why do they forget that we are sending billions of rupees back home? Why do they forget that many of them(NRI’s) are doing whatever they can for their village/ town/city/state’s betterment in their own way. Just living away from India does not take us away from the reality of India. Many in India think it will not be of much use as giving us voting rights will not make us politically very active. I feel it’s wrong to say this, as at least millions of people like me can make an impact on deciding who will rule the country. Living outside India, we have got the opportunity to see lot of good things in the respective countries we live. We sincerely feel that such “good things” should happen in our own country India. We want India to develop, grow and be corruption free. We have got the opportunity to see India from outside. We do follow the happenings, political and cultural developments and changes at home closely. By giving us the opportunity to vote we can atleast try not to bring back some corrupt politicians back to power. Indians living in India should not forget its not easy life abroad. 

It’s not all rosy as most Indians thinks in India. There are problems here too - it’s not like we’re given large pots of gold and a multi-million dollar bank balance the instant we land on foreign shores. We’ve got to work very hard and it’s not only that - we’ve got to adjust to foreign cultures and so on. Many of us live with the thought of returning home every single day. So NRI’s should be given the right to decide who would rule the country.

(This write-up of mine got published in the special Republic Day supplement of IndiansInKuwait.Com).

There are nearly 115countries in the world that gives right to there expats to vote.Just to name a few....Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Switzerland, Philippines, Thailand,USA,UK.Hope India too joins the list soon. 

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