New Delhi: The amendment to the Representation of People Act to enable Non-Resident Indians to exercise their voting rights in the country will be introduced in the current session of Parliament, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said here on Thursday.
As most of the political parties are in favour, the amendment is likely to be passed during the current session, he said in an informal chat. Ravi thanked Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for his initiative in taking up this matter in right earnest with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister H R Bhardwaj. He said he was very happy that the amendment would become a law during his tenure as he was very keen, along with many others, to get this done. Asked whether the NRIs in the Gulf would be allowed to vote in the coming Assembly elections, he said it was upto the Election Commission to prepare the norms and procedures once the amendment was passed. However, those in the voters’ list might be allowed to cast their votes in India, he hoped.Ravi said efforts were being made to begin NRI welfare centres at four places in the Indian embassies. These centres would look after the problems of Non-Resident Indians including rendering legal assistance besides encouraging small investment. Emigration procedures would be transparent, hereafter, he added.
These, centres are likely to be set up in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the Gulf, The United States, Europe and Kuala Lumpur. The Minister said the present arrangement of labour recruiting agencies having licence for a period of 25 years would be changed. They would have to get their licences renewed at least once in five years.
He said he would soon meet Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Kerala government’s proposal to start an airline specially to help those working in the Gulf countries. He would also take up the matter with Air India, which has virtually a monopoly in the Gulf sector.Ravi felt that being a public sector offer in the service sector, Kerala’s proposal should be encouraged. Chandy is keen to start this airline at the earliest, he said.The Minister also said that the proposal for a shipping service between Dubai and Kochi is likely to materialise by next month. This would help the large number of NRIs who cannot afford air travel, he said