Response on NRI voting rights not encouraging,says Ravi

The admission comes at a time when the Assembly elections in five states,especially Punjab which has a large expat population,is just a month away.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: January 6, 2012 1:59 am

More than a year after the government granted voting rights to non-resident Indians,Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi today admitted the response of the NRIs has not been encouraging. The admission comes at a time when the Assembly elections in five states,especially Punjab which has a large expat population,is just a month away.

Ravi also agreed that the Arab spring and the looming economic crisis has had some effect on Indians working in foreign countries. For,an additional 1.2 lakh people have already returned home in 2011 from the 17 emigration check required countries. According to government figures,an estimated two lakh Indians who work in these countries return every year.

A large number of Indians — around 16,000 from Libya alone — had returned from West Asian nations in the wake of turmoil in several countries. “Every year,on an average two lakh people come back. This year,1.2 lakh more have come back according to our estimates,” he said. Ravi,however,said it was not a matter of

concern.

Regarding the voting rights for NRIs — which has been a long standing demand — he said the response so far has not been encouraging. There have been complaints about the difficulty in traveling to embassies to register names in electoral roll. The ministry has held talks with the Election Commission to simplify the process. Consequently,it has been decided that people can register their names by sending a self-attested copy of their passports to district election officers.

Against the backdrop of turmoil in West Asia and the looming financial crisis,NRIs and Persons of Indian Origin would congregate in Jaipur later this week for the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas summit. Ravi said over 1,300 delegates from 24 countries would participate in the annual event which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate.

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