Friday July 19, 2019
Home Politics Bihar to Beco...

Bihar to Become the First State to Allow NRI Voting in Assembly Elections

0
//

patna_city_20120507

By Newsgram Staff Writer

History might be in the making as Bihar braces itself to become the first state to allow non-resident Indians (NRI’s) to cast their vote in assembly elections when it goes to poll later this year.

To facilitate NRI voting in the upcoming polls through either proxy or e-postal ballot, the Election Commission is jointly working with the law ministry on a pilot project.

The necessary amendments in the Representation of People Act are expected to be made latest by the monsoon session of Parliament so that the pilot can be tested in Bihar elections, according to sources privy to the joint effort.

The Election Commission will have to constitute a new assembly by November 29.

This comes at the backdrop of the Centre accepting the poll panel’s recommendations on NRI voting, which were submitted to the Supreme Court early this year.

Under the proxy option, proposed by the EC and subsequently accepted by the law ministry, an NRI will be able to cast vote through a nominee residing in India.

Whereas, under the e-postal ballot route, the poll panel will upload the ballot paper online accessible to registered NRI through a secure password. Once downloaded and printed, the NRI can then mark his or her preferred candidate on the ballot paper. The voter will then have to self-attest the ballot paper and send it back to the returning officer by snail mail within a stipulated period.

A technical committee headed by Rajat Moona of C-DAC, the government’s research and development arm in advanced computing comprising of other technical experts, has been constituted by the EC to develop a software that will allow the commission to dispatch the ballot paper to NRI voters online.

It is still unclear whether the pilot will cover the whole of Bihar or be limited to a few constituencies. An official on condition of anonymity said, “We can decide that once the amendments come through.”

If the experiment proves to be successful, the EC will scale up the trial to other state elections and finally cover the whole country during the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Since a large number of Indians, numbering close to one crore with sixty lakh of eligible voting age, are settled abroad particularly from states such as Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat, the decision to involve the expats in the electoral process can affect their outcome substantially.

Currently Bihar houses close to 1000 NRI voters.

Next Story

India Struggles with Encephalitis Outbreak in Eastern State of Bihar, One of Its Poorest Regions

In 2014, an outbreak of encephalitis killed 350 children in Muzaffarpur

0
India, Encephalitis Outbreak, Bihar
Children showing symptoms of encephalitis undergo treatment at Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar state, India, June 18, 2019. VOA

At least 152 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak during the month of June in India’s eastern state of Bihar, according to local health authorities. Following a petition, India’s supreme court ordered an investigation into the epidemic.

Acute encephalitis syndrome, sometimes referred to as ‘brain fever’, has claimed lives in 20 of Bihar’s 38 districts.  In particular, the disease has gripped the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, reaching epidemic proportions in a region already stricken with poverty and poor child health.

In 2014, an outbreak of encephalitis killed 350 children in Muzaffarpur.

A petition filed to India’s supreme court sought to end the current epidemic, accusing local and regional governments of being negligent in their response.

India, Encephalitis Outbreak, Bihar

At least 152 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak during the month of June in India’s eastern state of Bihar. Pixabay

“[Encephalitis] is completely curable and lives of young children are being lost due to the inaction of state machinery,” the petition read.

“Most of the deaths are occurring due to lack of medical facilities in the area of outbreak,” it continued.

In response to the petition, Indian supreme court justice Sanjiv Khanna said “We issue notice to the Bihar government seeking a detailed response.”

State and national officials must respond within seven days on health conditions, according to India’s top court.

Also Read- Mutombo, One of the Greatest Defensive Players in NBA, Records Ebola Messages for US Officials

India’s health ministry affirmed its earlier promise to open a children’s ward in the district and monitor the epidemic, as state health official face sharp criticism for what has been seen as indifference and negligent behavior.

India’s health minister Harsh Varadhan insisted that the Indian government was providing “all possible support” to combat the epidemic.

Since June 1, more than 700 cases of the disease have been recorded, though there are signs that the disease has been slowing, with no new deaths reported on Monday. (VOA)