GOPIO strengthens Connections between India and Indian Diaspora: Demands Rajya Sabha Seat for NRIs

10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision making process of the country of their citizenship

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27th Anniversary of GOPIO. India West.

GOPIO is a non-profit organization that takes up issues related to the Indian Diaspora and attempts to unify the community in its common causes. This community supported organization has one aim, to strengthens Connections between India and Indian Diaspora through Business.

“NRIs are an important factor in promoting India’s interest, in shaping relations between the “home” and the “host” countries and in helping steer a dynamic shift in India’s economic and political advantage in world affairs.” GOPIO said, “However, 10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision-making process of the country of their citizenship.”

The organization urges the Indian Government to nominate a small number of notable NRIs to be members of the Rajya Sabha in order to unite and strengthen the relationship between non-residential Indians and their home country.

27th Anniversary Celebrations and Biennial Convention. Image source: India West

This resolution was taken at the organizations’ 27th-anniversary celebrations on the 24th and 25th of July at the Marriott LaGuardia Hotel in New York, USA. The convention also resolved to allow NRIs “to exercise their right of franchise as enshrined in the Constitution of India” and make the possibility of NRIs voting in the Indian general election a reality.

Here is a list of resolutions, passed at the GOPIO Convention in New York (USA) on June 25, 2016:

1. Voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India

There are about 9 million NRIs, who help contribute to the economy as well as build India’s global image. They should be allowed to vote in the general election and the Election Commission of India should introduce electronic voting procedures before the next election.

2. Rajya Sabha seats for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs)
NRIs are an important factor in promoting India’s interest, in shaping relations between the “home” and the “host” countries and in helping steer a dynamic shift in India’s economic and political advantage in world affairs. However, 10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision making process of the country of their citizenship.
We urge the Government of India to nominate a few prominent NRIs as members of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament) so as to reinforce and further integrate the bonds between India and the overseas Indian community.
 
3. Pro-active Role for Indian Missions to Reach Out and Help Indian Citizens Needing Emergency Assistance
Indian Missions must be made more active and provide consular services to citizens in emergencies.
4. Engaging NRIs/PIOs for Educational, Health and Social Causes
The clearance process that the Home Ministry has put in place is not time efficient and should be streamlined. The many NRIs who wish to set up educational facilities in their home villages and cities, support social cause and the environment, as well as support their alma maters have to face significant problems.
5. Protection of Real Estate and Business Investments as well as Inherited assets
Protection of real estate, business investments, and inherited assets by designating fast track courts for NRIs and PIOs to avoid hindrances such as postponement of the hearing dates when they fly back and forth for them. The resolution also calls for a legislation that provides Title Insurance against forged signatures and other fraud.
6. Discriminative Admission Fee Rates for PIOs and OCI Card Holders
About five years ago, the Prime Minister of India made entrance fee to monuments same for all visitors. This yet to be put into practice. The fee is higher, even for NRIs who have been sending over 70 billion dollars to India, at monuments, hotels and other tourist places. GOPIO urges the government to take steps to implement equal entrance fee all over the country under the jurisdiction of states.
7. Taxing of NRIs/PIOs Social Security Benefits in India
Requesting the Finance Ministry to provide tax parity to NRIs that is similar to retirees. If NRIs move back to India, they often receive their social security benefits from a country that does not tax them. However, according to India laws this is taxed and the organization calls to change that.
 
8. Expand Know India Program
The Know India program is very successful but the scope of the program has not been realised. It should be expanded from 100 students to 2,000 every year. If needed, the government will not stand alone to sponsor the youth for the program and community groups in developed countries will be asked.
9. Set Up for Involvement with Ministries of Commerce, Science and Technology, Power, Rural Development, Tourism
A separate NRI/PIO advisory committee should be established and kept active to involve NRIs/PIOs if activities related to development of the individual ministries.
10. Set up NRI Ministry or NRI Coordination Office with All State Governments
A few states organize PBD-like programs during the return of Pravasis. These programs tend to attract the Pravasis since they relate to the environment in their home states. Kerela, Gujarat, and UP have established such interactions with NRIs who were originally from their states.

– by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: @VarshaGupta94

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