The NRI/PIO population throughout the world is elated at the outcome of the recently concluded elections in India. The incumbency factor has favoured Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, leaving the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a distant second. The Left Front, which opposed the Nuclear Deal with the US and withdrew support from the UPA government, suffered the most at the hands of the voters.
Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who carry Indian passports do not have right to vote in an Indian election and thus had no direct effect on the outcome of the election. However, their indirect support won many votes for the UPA coalition. The Indo-US nuclear deal for which the Indian community in the US played a major role in its passage, was considered one of the major accomplishments of the UPA government. And rightfully so, as this landmark deal ended years of isolation enforced in the wake of the 1974 nuclear tests.
Overseas Indians hope that Dr Singh will initiate and pass
suitable legislation to meet their legitimate demands
The Indo-US nuclear deal was not the only significant accomplishment of the UPA government. Double-digit growth in the economy during the major part of Dr Singh’s term, the rural job guarantee programme, and massive loan waiver for farmers were equally laudable. The creation of the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry to look after the issues and concerns of overseas Indians was also a commendable decision. The ministry, since its inception, has established Indian Facilitation Center, a PIO university, Internship program for Indian youth, Scholarship program for university education for PIO children and has also started Overseas Citizenship of India scheme. There are many more initiatives that the Ministry have taken benefiting various segments of the NRI/PIO community.
Dr Singh has become well known all over the world, particularly among the 25 million NRIs/PIOs, as an honest man; pity though, he has not succeeded in rooting out corruption among his ministerial colleagues and bureaucrats.
As Dr Singh and his UPA are getting ready for the second term, there are several urgent issues of concern and interests to the global NRI community. These include: NRIs being deprived of their right to vote as India does not have an absentee ballot system. Several NRIs have inherited properties while many have purchased during the last few years. The Indian tenancy laws are so antiquated they help tenants and others grab NRI properties leading to prolonged lawsuits to regain “stolen” properties. Overseas Indians hope that Dr Singh will initiate and pass suitable legislation to meet their legitimate demands.
—Inder Singh regularly writes and speaks on the Indian diaspora. He is president of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). He was president of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) from 1988-92 and chairman from 1992-96. He was founding president of the Federation of Indian Associations in Southern California. He can be reached at