Saturday, March 5, 2011

NRIs want to vote, but through postal ballot

Washington, March 04: Indians in America have welcomed the Election Commission's move to permit non-resident Indians to vote back home, but feel it would be a tough call to go to India just to vote.
 Instead NRIs should be allowed to vote by postal ballot, electronically or at Indian missions abroad. They could also be given separate representation in the Indian parliament, community leaders told IANS.
 "We very much welcome this," said Thomas Abraham, Founder President, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) International recalling, "We have been campaigning on this since 2000."
 "On the other hand, it will be extremely difficult for 10 million or more Indian citizens to travel to India during the election time to vote in their constituencies," he said.
 "With the advancement of technology, it would be easier to have electronic voting and the government should consider implementing this process," said Abraham who is also the founder president of the national Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA).
 "An effective way for overseas voters to actively participate in the democratic process would be to have representation for overseas Indian citizens in the parliament," he said suggesting a constitutional amendment to provide for five Lok Sabha seats for ten million Indian citizens living outside India.
 As a beginning, a couple NRIs should be nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India, he said adding, "If India is aspiring for progress, such opportunities have to be provided to Indian citizens living outside India as full participants for India's development."
 George Abraham, General Secretary of Indian National Overseas Congress, USA described the Election Commission's move as "a significant step in getting the NRIs voices heard for the first time through the ballot boxes."
 "However, it would be impractical for most of the NRIs to travel to India for the sole purpose of participating in an election," he said.

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