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Supreme Court seeks Time Frame for bringing a bill, which will Allow NRI Voting from the Overseas

The bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud sought to know the time frame after Attorney General K.K.Venugopal told court that a Team of Ministers (ToM) have recommended such an amendment

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Supreme Court
Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia
  • The Supreme Court sought to know from the time it would require for bringing a bill allowing NRIs vote from their overseas locations
  • The bench sought to know why the government was taking a cumbersome route of amending the electoral act
  • In the last hearing on the matter, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had contended that the modalities of NRI voting can be done by amending the Rules and would not require amending the law

New Delhi, July 21, 2017: The Supreme Court on Friday sought to know from the Central government the time it would require for bringing a bill amending the Representation of People Act to allowing NRIs vote from their overseas locations.

The bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud sought to know the time frame after Attorney General K.K.Venugopal told the court that a Team of Ministers (ToM) have recommended such an amendment.

The Team of Ministers in their meeting on July 20, 2017, have decided that to “facilitate external modes of voting to the overseas electors, an amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1951 would be required by way of introduction of a Bill in Parliament”, the bench was told.

At this, the bench sought to know why the government was taking a cumbersome route of amending the electoral act when same could be achieved by amending the rules.

ALSO READ: Give Due Respect to the Dignity of the Dead: Supreme Court asks State Governments to Follow NHRC Guidelines

The top court, in the last hearing of the matter, had asked the Central government to take a call whether it wanted to amend the Act or the Rules to decide on the modalities of the NRI voting from abroad.

In the last hearing of the matter, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the petitioners, had contended that the modalities of NRI voting can be done by amending the Rules and would not require amending the law.

Appearing for the Election Commission, senior counsel Meenakshi Arora told the bench that by amending the rules, that they can put in place modalities of voting by the overseas electors, but it was necessary to amend the law to create an exception for overseas voters. (IANS)


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Recent Trends among the Indian Diaspora and its Increasing Significance

As the Indian diaspora is increasingly organizing itself in the host countries by accumulating the resources, it may have potential impact on the economic, social and political landscape in India.

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Indian Diaspora
Indian Diaspora organizing community identity in the host country

The Indian diaspora is a generic term representing the people who migrated from the Indian territories to the other parts of the world. It includes the descendants of these groups. Today, over twenty million Indians which include Non-Resident Indians and People of Indian Origin are residing outside the Indian territory as Indian diaspora. According to a UN survey report of 2015, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world. In 2005, Indians formed the world’s third-largest diaspora. The Indians who settled overseas in the 1960s for more developed countries such as US, UK, Canada, Australia and Western Europe formulate the category of the New Diaspora.

What are the popular host countries for the Indian Diaspora:

The 2010 estimates of Census data of US, UK and Canada suggest that Indian diaspora constitutes three million people in US, 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom and one million in Canada. Indians are the fourth largest immigrant group in the United States. Also, five million emigrants from India residing in the Gulf region at present.

The History of Indian Diaspora:

A brief overview of the history of Indian diaspora suggests that the first group of Indians immigrated to Eastern Europe in the 1st century AD from Rajasthan during the reign of Kanishka. Yet another evidence of migration was witnessed in 500 AD when a group immigrated to Southeast Asia as the Cholas extended their empire to Indonesia and Malaysia thereby spreading the Indian culture in these states. Thus the early evidence of the diaspora was found during ancient times. The medieval period witnessed the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism during the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms. Mughals took Indians as traders, scholars, artists, musicians, and emissaries to the other parts of the country.

Old Diaspora:

The first wave of the Modern Indian Diaspora, also called the Old Diaspora, began in the early 19th century and continued until the end of the British rule. The Dutch and French colonizers followed the suit. Indians were sent in large numbers to become the bonded labourers for sugar and rubber plantation in their colonies.

Indians in Caribbean, Africa, and Asia:

By the end of World War 1, there were 1.5 million Indian laborers in the colonies in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. At present, around 60% of Indian diaspora is constituted of this Old Diaspora.

Impact of Immigration policies on Migration from India:

After the Indian independence, a large number of unskilled and some skilled Punjabi male Sikhs migrated to the UK from India due to favorable immigration policies in the United Kingdom. Similarly, the 1990s onwards, due to software boom and its rising economy, H-1B was introduced in the US immigration policy that allowed the entry of highly skilled IT specialists, doctors, scientists and engineers in the US. Further, the 1970s witnessed oil boom in the Middle East that led to significant growth of Indian diaspora in the Gulf region.

While the low skilled and semi-skilled workers are moving to the Gulf region for better economic opportunities, highly skilled labor is moving from India to US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Has Indian Diaspora started impacting the economies and societies:

With the growing rate of international migration since the beginning of millennia, there is a significant impact of diaspora on the economies and societies of the world. In recent years, the diaspora is influencing the economic, political and cultural affairs in their homeland. It is so because the influence of the diaspora communities increases as they organize themselves and accumulate resources in their host countries for several years. The mobilized diaspora are now influencing the affairs of the homeland countries. A common form of exchange is the financial remittances provided to the relatives by the diaspora community. Overseas family networks of the political elites in India are shaping the political landscape as well. Culturally, the diaspora is influencing the music and literature trends in India as the content is consciously structured to cater to the tastes of the diaspora.

What actions have been taken by the government of India to tap the potential of Indian Diaspora:

The first Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was organized in 2003 by the Government of India to expand and reshape the state of India’s economy by the use of the potential human capital which the Indian diaspora reflects. Clearly, Indian diaspora has a larger role to play in the Indian economy over the coming years as the efforts to mobilize them increase in the homeland.

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Andhra Pradesh Janmabhoomi Project: 51 NRIs Help Tribal Village Kothavalasa in Developing a Space Fostering Sports Facilities

Sports Facility for a tribal village has been inaugurated by AP Janmabhoomi project which involves contribution of 51 NRIs

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AP Janmabhoomi rural project.

Andhra Pradesh, Sep 27, 2017: Kothavalasa, a tribal village near Araku saw an influx of sporting enthusiasts wailing and whistling in joy as a result of the ‘Tribal Development Project’ that got executed in less than 20 days.

With a vision to bridge NRIs to their native land, India’s Sunrise State, AP Janmabhoomi has spread its wings by launching various campaigns revolving around the holistic development of the rural public. AP Janmabhoomi’s prime focus areas include creating – Digital Classrooms, Anganwadi Centres & Crematoriums.

Before leveling the land
Girls playing throwball after leveling the land

Kothavalasa, of Dumbriguda Mandal, Vishakhapatnam District happened to be their first integrated Tribal Development Project. The Special Representative for North America, the team that is actively involved in this mission, after pondering upon various ways to impact the lives of the rural public came up with an offbeat approach.

According to the team, for any community to move forward, they need to stay united and what better than sports can teach people to stay united. Creating a sports facility is not an easy task, and it needs a lot of resources, especially money.

In alignment with their vision of involving NRIs in the overall gamut – AP Janmabhoomi, kicked off a fundraiser
campaign and has collected a sum of almost 1,30,000 rupees in just five days. It should be noted that the whole fundraising was carried on the official website of AP Janmabhoomi, where 51 NRIs from various parts of the globe have participated. During the team’s physical inspection to the site, they’ve partnered with ThinkPeace, an NGO which has already been impacting the people living there for more than 5 years till now. As part of their integrated Tribal Development Project, AP Janmabhoomi also donated an amount of Rs. 3,00,000 for the construction of an Anganwadi school.

Distributing sports equipment

Shri Sarveshwar Rao, MLA of Araku and Shri Ravi Subhash, I.A.S graced the inauguration ceremony with their presence
and distributed the sports equipment which is set to unite and empower the youth and children of tribal villages around Kothavalasa. The equipment included outdoor sports equipment like volleyball, throw ball and cricket kits. The indoor equipment included table tennis, carom boards, and chessboards. A tournament named after the great freedom fighter, Shri Alluri Sitaramaju, was organized in the ground which saw participants from 12 Mandals.

Also Read: NRI School Connect Campaign- A new Virtual Learning initiative by government of AP 

The AP Special Representative for North America, Shri Jayaram Komati, currently heading the social initiative,
believes that all the NRIs share a common will to help
their native land.

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Diwali Preparations Grow in US, from Disney to Times Square

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Dipawali
Diyas adorn every corner of the house on the celebration day of Diwali. pixabay

The holiday of Diwali in the US is starting to light up mainstream America. Diwali, a festival of lights celebrated by Indians all over the world, has long been observed in immigrant communities around the U.S.

But now public celebrations of the holiday are starting to pop up in places ranging from Disneyland and Times Square to parks and museums.

The Times Square event is the brainchild of Neeta Bhasin, who says that while many Indian immigrants have found great success in the U.S., “still people don’t know much about India. I felt it’s about time that we should take India to mainstream America and showcase India’s rich culture, heritage, arts and diversity to the world. And I couldn’t find a better place than the center of the universe: Times Square.”

Places in America where Diwali Celebrations will take place.

Bhasin, who came to the United States from India 40 years ago, is president of ASB Communications, the marketing firm behind Diwali at Times Square. The event, now in its fourth year, has drawn tens of thousands of people in the past. It’s scheduled for Oct. 7, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., with dance performances, Bollywood singers, a bazaar of food, saris and other goods, and a lighting ceremony.

While Diwali celebrations are held throughout the fall, the holiday’s actual date is Oct. 19. Also called Deepavali, it’s an autumn harvest festival held just before the Hindu new year. Celebrations include lighting oil lamp called diyas and candles to symbolize “a victory of knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness, good over evil,” said Bhasin.

The Diwali celebration at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, includes performances of traditional Indian dances and a Bollywood dance party for guests. It’s part of a festival of holidays at the theme park reflecting cultural traditions from around the world. The Disney festival begins Nov. 10 and runs through Jan. 7.

San Antonio, Texas, has one of the nation’s largest city-sponsored celebrations of Diwali, drawing more than 15,000 people each year. The 2017 event, scheduled for Nov. 4 at La Villita, a historic arts village, will be its ninth annual Diwali celebration with Indian dance, entertainment, food, crafts, fireworks and the release of lighted candles into the San Antonio River along the city’s River Walk.

New York City’s Rubin Museum will mark Diwali with an overnight Ragas Live Festival featuring more than 50 Indian classical musicians performing amid the museum’s collection of sacred Himalayan art. The event begins Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. and continues all day and night through Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. Chai and mango lassis will be served, visitors will have access to all the galleries and pop-up events like meditation and sunrise prayer will be offered. Special tickets will be sold for the opportunity to sleep beneath the artwork.

Other places hosting Diwali celebrations include Cary, North Carolina, in Regency Park, Oct. 14; Flushing Town Hall, Queens, New York, Oct. 29; the Seattle Center, Oct. 21; the Dulles Expo center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 7-8; and Memorial Park in Cupertino, California, Sept. 30. In Columbus, Ohio, the Ohio History Center is hosting a photo exhibit about the city’s fast-growing population of immigrants from Nepal, Bhutan and India, with a Diwali event Oct. 8.

Bhasin said Diwali’s message is particularly timely now. “It is extremely important to be together and showcase to the world, not only Indians, but the entire immigrant community, to be together with Americans and to show the world we are one, we are all the same human beings,” she said.(VOA)