Non Resident Indians (or NRIs) have long been a mere and mute spectator to the political proceedings in India. As an Indian they too want to have their say in these matters. For this very purpose in the year 2010, Lok Sabha adopted the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill which was eventually passed in the Parliament of India.
The law gave the Indians staying abroad (or NRIs as they are mostly referred to), a right to vote. The law ensured that the NRIs can enroll themselves in the electoral roll and vote. Another benefit of the law was that even if they have been residing abroad for more than 6 months, they can still vote.
Problem faced by NRI Voters
The number of NRIs is very huge which makes it nearly impossible for all of them to be at the same as elections. In fact many even miss out reaching India because there are not enough bookings available. This eventually means that many precious votes care not even casted. This has led to a lot of frustration among Indian living abroad.
Probable solutions to the problem
There are three probable solutions to solve this issue which have been listed below.
The election commission of India can send the ballots through mail to each and every Indian residing abroad. The NRI voters can then post back the ballot with their votes.
The main obstacle here is that the electoral ballots are prepared 30 days before election which would give very little time for the Indian election commission to sort them out for NRIs and then send them individually. Also this process will be costly as well as cumbersome.
The advancement in technology means it is now possible to vote online. They can also get a print of the ballot paper and then submit it. One obstacle that might prevent proper implementation of this solution is that Indian election commission is not tech savvy enough to execute this solution at a big level.
Internet voting and ballot combined
This is probably one of the most efficient ways to tackle the problem faced by NRI voters. The election commission can post the electronic version of the election ballots on their site. The NRIs can then download form, cast their vote and then post it back to India.
To ensure that the votes have been casted by genuine NRIs, the commission can ask for attested copy of residence and ID proof. This approach is less cumbersome. It will also save a lot of unnecessary overhead expenses too. Also, the voters will be able to get the ballots on time and can vote along with the other Indian voters.
Of the three solutions discussed above, the third solution is the most plausible one. It is much more viable, among the three, as well as comparatively easy to execute. The non-resident Indian voters have been ignored for far too long. It is time we realise the importance of NRI voters their due and give them a chance to have a say in deciding the winner.