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Updated: January 9, 2012 03:51 IST

NRIs will get right to vote; pension fund for overseas workers

Mohammed Iqbal
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at B.M. Birla Auditorium in Jaipur on Sunday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at B.M. Birla Auditorium in Jaipur on Sunday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

Manmohan wants them to contribute "much more" to building a modern India

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday called upon the Indian communities living abroad to play a more active role and contribute “much more” to the building of a modern India and promised significant steps to facilitate, encourage and promote their engagement with the country of their origin.

Inaugurating the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, Dr. Singh also announced the right of franchise to the non-resident Indians who are registered under the Representation of the People Act, 1950. A new pension and life insurance fund for overseas Indian workers, to enable them to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement, has also been introduced.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is the chief guest at the three-day festival, which began on Saturday. About 1,900 NRIs and Persons of Indian Origin (POIs) are taking part in the flagship event, which will focus on India's success in diverse fields and invited them to strengthen their bonds with their ancestral land.

The formal inauguration of the annual event at B.M. Birla Auditorium here on Sunday, a day after brainstorming seminars were organised on a variety of subjects, was attended by a battery of distinguished persons, industrial magnates, young entrepreneurs and government functionaries.

Among others, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, acting Rajasthan Governor Shivraj Patil and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot attended the inaugural session. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister C.P. Joshi and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor addressed the subsequent sessions.

Dr. Singh said that while the notifications had been issued to enable Indian residents abroad to participate in the country's election processes, a Bill had been introduced in Parliament to merge and streamline the PIO and Overseas Citizen of India schemes by amending the Citizenship Act. This would provide for an overseas Indian card that would be given to foreign spouses of the holders as well.

The new pension and life insurance scheme, fulfilling a long-pending demand, would enable the overseas Indians to save for their old age after returning to the country, said the Prime Minister. It would also provide a low-cost life insurance cover against natural death.

Listing the steps taken for safety and security of the Indians living abroad, particularly in the regions of instability, Dr. Singh said the government was “acutely conscious” of the security needs of over six million Indians staying in the Gulf and West Asia. “We have conveyed to [these] countries that we have a stake in the peace and stability of this region. We expect that they would appropriately look after the interest of Indian communities.”

He said the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs had prepared an action plan to implement the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee on issues relating to repatriation, relief and rehabilitation of Indian nationals affected by the recent developments in the West Asian region.

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Agreed. This Pension and Life Insurance Scheme announcement is very vague. Which agency is going to administer the scheme? If it is again a Government ministry, etc. then who knows what will be the fate.

from:  gopal
Posted on: Jan 12, 2012 at 12:44 IST

It's appreciable if they implement the pension scheme, but the information is vague. If we invest Rs5000 per month (Rs60,000) per annum. What is the Government's share? What is the rate of interest they offer? Is there any minimum period of payment? What happens if we lose job after paying six months? There are many queries where to contact and how to get the required information.

from:  Uday
Posted on: Jan 11, 2012 at 13:33 IST

1. Request to start Indian Mission/Consulates in major Cities having more Concentration of Indians abroad. 2. Govt to Improve the Value of Human life in India, for example Indians dying in Saudi Arabia(during floods in 2009) their families got SR 1mn each(equal to Rs 1.4 crore) compensation from Saudi govt and if they have died in India for the same reason,you know how much Compensation or Solatium their family will get, hence appeal to Govt to increase Value/Compensation for Human deaths to cover the whole family expenses for rest of their life. 3. If any Human being is killed by another man in Saudi Arabia, the accused will be jailed till a compensation of SR400,000 equal to Rs56 Lacks is paid by the proven accused to the Victims family after Victims family pardons the killer from Capital punishment,just to emphasise Indian Justice System needs over Overhaul. 4. Govt to Increase the Unemployment allowance too, for example unemployed Saudis get SR2000 equal to Rs28,000 each.

from:  Riaz Ahmed
Posted on: Jan 10, 2012 at 16:14 IST

if government has committed to bring a pension scheme and life insurance plan for our overseas workers. will it be a like our government employers. Indians moves to gulf or other country because they did not get opportunities to make a comfortable living in our country.

from:  kameshwar
Posted on: Jan 10, 2012 at 13:55 IST

I completely agree with the posting by Dr. Sajjan Shenoy N. I am a spouse of an Indian, American by birth, and a PIO-card holder. I have spent several years in India, and have been appalled and disheartened by the Indian tendancy to assume that I was somehow smarter than they, due simply to my national origins and skin color. There is abundant talent in India, which needs to be developed. Stop pandering to foreigners and have some well-deserved pride in yourselves!

from:  Linda S
Posted on: Jan 10, 2012 at 02:18 IST

Our country needs to tap our own people's potential instead of running behind NRIs and the sort. It is a such a tragedy that we forget to foster to talent that is already present in our country and rather choose to appease citizens of some other country (even if they were once 'Indians'). The earlier we realise this, the better.

from:  Dr. Sajjan Shenoy N
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 14:45 IST

The govt remains a mute spectator to harrassment of Indians and poor labour policies in gulf countries which affect lakhs of people. They move there because they did not get opportunities to make a comfortable living in India. First increase the influence of embassies with overseas govts and take care of safety and dignity of citizens abroad.

from:  Sivakumar
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 13:55 IST

As a South African of Indian origin, I welcome the announcement. There will be some benefits for the PIO and some for India. I do not see that Congress will benefit much in terms of votes and will certainly not win any election with the NRI/PIO votes.In my retirement, I would want to live quietly and simply in a little village in India. I will not have millions of dollars to invest but might be able to help the village folk with basic language and adinistrative training. My grandparents' country should afford me that opportunity.

from:  Val Kathuravaloo
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 13:47 IST

I believe it is a move by government to ensure that UPA will remain in the power by using bogus voting by using the name of NRI's because more or less NRI's are not concerned with the situation of India because if they do so they should come back to their home country after some time to give something to their motherland. I know most of the people may focus my comment as ridiculous but believe me this is going to be truth.

from:  Sunil
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 13:13 IST

first a fall people of india wont having the proper voting cards to utilize the vote,though we are having full rights to vote.please concentrate first on these matter,later give a rights to other people.

from:  srinivas.k
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 12:29 IST

We should not listen to the comments made by our PM I am sure he can not do anything for the welfare of NRI but he can make only mighty promises.I am sure the NRI will remain like donkeys or sacrificed goat.May be our PM need our helps that is why he is making mighty promises.NRI fate will be decide by God only.I pray to my God help the NRI.

from:  Abubaker
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 11:22 IST

This is too little and too late for valuable dollar fetcher employees outside India.PM is doing it now coz of election pressure.I had been been drawing the attention of Ministry of External affairs that Fair and equal opportunity should be given to indians working in Africa but no mechanism is seen till date.Lazy and arrogant investors money in African countries keep the work contracts of workers in line with African law but back home they refuse to give a dignified contract to Indians.In India there is no mechanism that audits the company act norms that keeps the Indians unsecured.Work Inspectors are given bribe to keep their mouth shut.

from:  Rakesh Manchanda
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 11:09 IST

Corrupt India is more a distracting destination and supersedes the lure of motherland.Even then NRIs must make themselves intemately available in their land of origin to uproot the systemic failures.

from:  Radha Kumud Das
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 10:56 IST

It is indeed a welcome move to introduce pension scheme for NRIs. Expats in non US, European countries are always stranded without any secure mechanism for saving funds and earn a decent return for their later years. NRI rupee deposit earned paltry returns until few weeks back. Stock market is not every ones cup of tea and with the successive scams or even symptoms of weak economic data of any us or european downslide affects Indian market and seen billions washed overnight. It is certainly going to be a challenge for the country to provide medical and basic living amenities for the aged...

from:  R Gopalan
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 10:30 IST

NRI's should not be given voting rights as they don't know what is happening in India and it is very easy to get votes by giving tax benefits.. !! wrong move !

from:  Jayachandran
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 10:30 IST

First and foremost thing, Government should do, is to improve the conditions at Passport offices. You show stars to the people applying for passports. Let these ministers visit the passport offices first and improve conditions for issuing passports. That is first step for any Indian to become NRI or PIO. Becasue you are not able to take care of people in India, these people are leaving the country for better life. First see how much care other countries are taking, when there people take overseas appointment. Then talk about all this voting rights etc.

from:  Sai
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 10:20 IST

The measures being taken is highly appreciated.The merger of PIO and straemlining of OCI is very much welcomed.The introduction of pension scheme is just the step needed for a NRI LIVING abroad.I personally thank the Government Of INDIA for such decisions.

from:  R.V. Suresh
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 09:06 IST

Did the PM mean People of Indian Origin? NRI's are still Indians having Indian passport. As long as they have an Indian passport they can vote from the Indian Embassy.

from:  Krishnamurthy
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 08:33 IST

The Pension scheme for NRI's is well come & most wanted also,The reason behind this the congress has lost trust with the resident voters,and some how wants to come to the power through NRI votes.What ever may be the casuses,the congress has lost credibility on account of corruption,shultering corrupt politicians and non implementation of STRONG LOKPAL bill.

from:  Suresh D.R
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 08:25 IST

I am very happy that steps are being taken to welcome Indians living abroad. Even though Indians left for economic reasons, they are willing to come back. Even though it might seem to be opportunistic,
One can imagine the expertise and capital that will be transferred to India. At the same time, it is important to cut the red tape and make life easier.
Anyway, it is a step in right direction

from:  Mathew Vergis
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 06:48 IST

Good to hear from the honorable PM of India an assuarance on getting the right of franchise for NRI. What we hear from him is an open ended statement with out any commitment on date. Such statements are of no use. From 1947 politicians are promising to alleviate poverty and illiteracy. What they achieved is there for every one to see. It is very unfortunate Indian goverment is researching for so long on giving a basic thing as right to vote for NRIs. Let government be transparent and tell what is the impedimant on implementing this. What we hear form PM is an annual retoric of promises. NRIs are Indian citizens they are different from PIOs, who are foreign nationals. Citizens to be served first.

from:  Ayyappa
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 06:36 IST

The immediate need of the Resident Voter is the option to vote out the 'Corrupt'or the right to recall.For our non-resident citizens they have more important jobs on hand,the last would be the 'hob son's choice to vote (Criminal/Corrupt X or Corrupt/Criminal Y in most cases).

from:  K P Natarajan
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 06:25 IST

Finally things are a-changing in India. This will facilitate respect for Indians living abroad. After all,if your native land does not respect you, who else will?
Hopefully,enfranchising NRI's, may contribute to better and honest leaders being elected. India needs young, energetic, and honest candidates to enter politics.
Overall, kudos!

from:  C.L. Sridhar
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 06:05 IST

It would also be better if Persons of Overseas citizens (PIO) and
Overseas citizen of India are eligible to work in Government
organisations. Life at overseas is not always on ross beds, some times
it is even tougher. When Nepal citizens are eligible to work in
government jobs, why not the above two categories. Whenever we visit or
return India, we bring considerable money, what these Nepalese
contribute to India.

from:  Gabriel
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 05:26 IST

All these pronouncements and empty promises by the Prime Minister of India to woo the NRIs, especially at a time when the economy of the Nation seems to be spiraling downwards, sound like the desperate and despondent blabber by a man whose days in politics are numbered. Of late, Manmohahn Singh has shown a remarkable tendency to compare India with China, and this doesn't make any sense. He says that the overseas Chinese are doing wonders for their mother land in almost every sphere unlike the NRIs who merely invest in real estate in India, and don’t take part in the overall development of their homeland. This is a load of hogwash. He wants to extend the Voting Rights now, and, what for, I cannot figure that out. A man who couldn't even make the seating arrangements for the NRI delegates at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas ought to be ashamed of himself for shooting his mouth off by making empty promises. Let him focus on the Indians in India, and improve their lot first.

from:  Joseph Christie
Posted on: Jan 9, 2012 at 04:41 IST
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