NRI voting in Indian elections has become a reality: Vayalar Ravi

Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi addressing the INOC reception

NEW YORK: More than 15,000 Non-resident Indians have registered with the Election Commission as voters and are now eligible to vote in various elections if they are in India without the fear of their names being removed from the voters list, said Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi here on July 7.
Addressing a reception hosted by Indian National Overseas Congress (I) at penthouse ballroom of picturesque Skyline Hotel in Manhattan, he said there are at least over 100,000 Indian students above the age of 18 studying in various universities in the US and sizable number of software engineers who are on deputation. “These Indian passport holders are now eligible to register as voters in their respective constituencies and exercise their franchise when they are in India during the election time.”
Recalling the promise made by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conclave that non-resident Indians would be given the voting rights so long they remained Indian nationals, he said people living closer to home like those living in the Gulf, Singapore, Malaysia would stand to benefit because of their proximity to homeland.
Their names will not be deleted from the voters list, he said. “I can’t keep ballot boxes in all foreign countries for the NRIs and those who happen to be in India during the elections can vote.”
He said the government and political set up were surprised when Prime Minister made the announcement of giving voting rights to NRIs as to how it would be feasible. “Constitution amendment was not possible as it requires two-thirds majority and very cleverly Dr. Manmohan Singh amended the People’s Representatives Act to bring into effect the desired changes,” he said.
On the requests made by PIOs and OCIs that the ban on travel to India within two months of their departure should be removed, he said he agreed with the overseas Indians that the new rule brought about by the Home Ministry has caused some hardship to those visiting India on emergency, business or social causes.” With the new Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde taking charge, we hope that there will be a solution to the problem,” he said.
Ravi, a senior Congress leader from Kerala, said his Ministry had created Overseas Indian Foundation to help NRIs and PIOs to help construct schools and hospitals in their villages without going through the hassle of red tape and bureaucratic tangle.
His ministry has drawn up schemes to bring the bodies of those Indian workers who die abroad and had funded $ 3 crores to set up a crematorium in Abu Dhabi where cremation was not in practice by the locals.
The Prime Minister was keen to extend lot more to the NRIs and PIOs whose contribution to motherland is greatly appreciated. However while Defense Ministry had the budget allocation of Rs 120,000 crores his ministry’s allocation was a meager Rs 65 crores and yet his Ministry has brought in a lot of schemes to benefit NRIs and PIOs as their contributions are invaluable,” he said.

He said the 2013 edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas would be held in Kochi in January and there would be lot of opportunities for overseas Indians to invest in states.
“The very purpose of providing a platform to all chief ministers is to help them attract investments for their respective states from overseas Indians as we believe in the overall growth of states for national progress.”
The Minister honored Harjit Singh Manj, Tejinder Singh Gil, Mohan Wanchoo, Dr Rakesh Bhargava, Ranju Batra, Abe George who is running for the post of District Attroney and others for their contribution to society.
Prabhu Dayal, Consul General, in his address said the number of Pravasi Bharathiya Samman awards given to NRIs and PIOs from the US should be increased taking into view the 3 million population and the increasing number of applications received each year for the award. He urged the Minister to conduct the next mini PBD in New York City.
George Abraham, President of INOC (I) said his organization would serve as a bridge between the two nations and help bring in investments, cultural exchange and innovations. INOC (I) will be in the vanguard of the movement and work for strong ties and better understanding.
Shudh Parkash Singh, senior vice president, welcoming the gathering, said Ravi is among the tallest Congress leaders whose service to the party and nation was very well-known.

India Post News Service

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