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Earning the right to vote

Earning the right to vote

The Non Resident Indians can now exercise their right to vote in the electoral processes in India after a landmark decision by the Supreme Court came on Monday.

The government informed the apex court that it had accepted the Election Commission’s recommendation to permit the NRIs to vote through E-ballet system or through proxy - their nominees residing in India. If effectively implemented it has a potential to alter the election results of the world's largest democracy, as the NRI population comes to around 25 million. A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri has given the government two months to suggest the required amendments to the law in order to implement the EC recommendation. E-ballet and Mukthyar vote were the two things in consideration by the EC. Other possibilities were discarded due to the chances of manipulation.

Malayalis have been in the forefront of the fight for the right to vote showing their political awareness and commitment. The contributions of the social activist Dr Shamsheer Vayalil had made the proposal before the Court initiating a legal battle and persevering till the goal is achieved. Gulf Madhyamam have strived to bring awareness among the people in Gulf countries, not letting go of any opportunity to present the matter before the political leaders. Many countries permit their citizens residing in foreign countries to exercise their right to vote through effective systems. But since it would be impractical in a country like India, it might be viable to adopt the E-ballet system making use of the vast prospects of Information Technology.

The government had allowed voting rights to the NRIs in 2010, but only if they are physically present in the country. It has often neglected the grievances of the lower and the lower middle class income workers in the Gulf countries. The NRIs are not listed in the official documents like the ration cards, voters list and the Aadhaar documents. While they have helped boost the economy, the government has been interested only in the foreign currency being accumulated. But a majority of the Diaspora is anxious and concerned about the developmental and democratic changes in the country. The latest decision brings relief to millions of Non Resident Indians living outside the country. The NRIs residing in any part of the world can exercise their right to democracy like the other citizens and have a say in choosing their government. However steps have to be taken to prevent the misuse of the system.

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