Voting Rights: Who is an NRI?

By Ashok Kumar

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Sunday, January 8, 2012 at the 10th Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas in Jaipur, asked the Non-resident Indians now to vote in the coming elections.
He told a gathering of 1,900 Diaspora from 0ver 60 countries that the notification for registration of overseas voters had been issued by the Government under the Representation of the Peoples Act and amended in 2010.
According to media reports, only one NRI registered for voting in the last round of Assembly elections.
Who is an NRI? When the Parliament issued notification in November 2010, there was a lot of confusion among the NRIs and Indians who have relinquished their Indian citizenship and became citizens of another country. The Indian Sub-continent Times, in a news report on November 25, 2010 had clarified on this issue.
According the Election Commission website that clarifies on the matter in an answer to a question:
Q2. Can a non-resident Indian citizen become a voter?
Ans. Yes, according to the provisions of the Representation of the People
(Amendment) Act, 2010, a person who is a citizen of India and who has
not acquired the citizenship of any other country and is otherwise eligible
to be registered as a voter and who is absenting from his place of ordinary
residence in India owing to his employment, education or otherwise is
eligible to be registered as a voter in the constituency in which his place
of residence in India as mentioned in his passport is located.
The Indian Sub-continent Times had in its report on November 25, 2010 had quoted a report from Parliament session:
“Parliament had in the monsoon session passed the
Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to allow NRIs
to vote in Indian elections and now government has issued a
gazette notification in this regard.
Gazette notification has been issued giving voting
rights to Non-Resident Indians,” the then Overseas Indian Affairs
Minister Vayalar Ravi told Lok Sabha, replying to a question.
An estimated 20 million NRIs are living in various
countries across the world.
However, the person will be able to exercise the
franchise only if he or she is present in the constituency on
the polling day.
Ravi had said NRIs, “who have not acquired citizenship of
any other country and are living abroad owing to employment,
education or otherwise, are now eligible to register their
names in the electoral rolls” in their places as mentioned in
their passport.

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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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