There is a good news for Non-Resident Indians [NRIs]. Prime Minister, Hon Mr Man Mohan Singh and Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi, have announced on 24th Nov, 2010 that NRIs will get the voting rights in India. It does not matter how long they have been away from India. They are now able to have their names in the voter list. The only catch is that they will have to be in India on the day of voting. Election Commission of India has been asked to make necessary changes in its rules and regulations.
I think it is a right step. There are more than 11 Million NRIs all over the world. Not all will be interested to be in India to enjoy their voting rights but it will certainly help those who want to do that. Previously, NRIs must have lived in India for al least 6 months before their names could go in the voter lists. No such need any more.
I think the Indian Gov should have gone a bit further here. They should have made provisions for NRIs to be able to vote irrespective of whether they were in India or not on the day of voting. They could have gone to the nearby Indian consulates/Embassies/High Commissions to vote or even better, they could have sent postal votes.
While this is all good, India needs to move forward a lot more in regards to dual citizenship. Several western countries have already done this. Australia, NZ, UK and USA already have it. To say that it has security implications for India is not a valid argument. There are lot more enemies of India inside India. One example is “that” IAS officer who was selling secrets while working in the Ministry of Home affairs. Another example was “that” officer in RAW who was doing anti-India activities and later fled to USA when he was about to be arrested. Yet another example is that wretched woman in Indian High Commission in Islamabad who was working for Pakistan.
I believe, just like the vast majority of People of Indian Origin [PIOs] all over the world, that India should allow dual citizenship. People will need to quit their non-Indian citizenships before taking up any constitutional position in India. This is the way Australia manages this issue.
A smart and progressive thinking is required from the Indian Government. India should strengthen the emotional and political linkage with PIOs who are a great asset for their motherland. This, it can do, by granting dual citizenships as long as security and character issues have been cleared for such PIOs.
Yadu Singh/Sydney/25th Nov, 2010
- NRIs can now vote in India (thehindu.com)
- Notification for NRIs’ voting rights out: Minister (topinews.com)