Non-resident Indians (NRIs) can vote from next general election: PM

Indians residing overseas will get a chance to exercise their franchise from the next general elections, said Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi on Friday.


Addressing the Indian Diaspora at the Eight edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Prime Minister said: "He recognises the legitimate desire of Indians living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a say in who governs India. He urged them to return home to join politics and public life".


Seeking the active involvement of the Indian Diaspora in accelerating the country's economic and social development, Manmohan Singh asked the second generation of the Diaspora to connect with the ancestral country.


The Prime Minister said the government has been able to expand access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities to a vast majority of the population.


Noting that India is one of the top investment destinations with expanding economic opportunities everywhere, Singh asked the overseas Indians to consider long-term investments.


He said Foreign Direct Investment in India by overseas Indians is low and far short of potential.


The Prime Minister said Indian industry is rapidly developing a global orientation with many of its companies transforming themselves into multinational corporations with global brand names.
He hoped that the newly established Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre will become an effective hub for promoting two-way interaction between the overseas Indian community and local institutions.


The Prime Minister said India's economy had fared well despite the unprecedented global financial crisis and recorded 7 per cent growth this year.


He said the country will return to sustained annual growth rate of 9-10 per cent in a couple of years.


The Prime Minister said that India is investing much more in building skilled manpower and would emerge as the largest supplier of the trained manpower.


The three-day event was inaugurated by Minister for Overseas Affairs Vyalar Ravi on Thursday. President Pratibha Patil will deliver her valedictory address on January nine.


The theme of this year's event is "Engaging the Diaspora: The Way Forward".


Nearly 1,500 delegates from over 50 countries including top businessmen, economists, entrepreneurs and scientists are participating in the event which will also see participation of 15 chief ministers and several Union ministers.


Lord Khalid Hameed of Hampstead is chief guest at what is formally called the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.


Indian ministers scheduled to attend the three-day event include External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Road Transport Minister, Kamal Nath, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.


Key speakers from abroad include Canada's Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar, Trinidad and Tobago's Minister in Prime Minister's Office Lenny K. Saith, Singapore's Community Development Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Mauritius Education Minister Vasant K. Bunwaree.


The event, which coincides with the date (9 January) on which Mahatma Gandhi returned to his native land from South Africa, has been organized every year since 2003, and is being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).