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PIO meeting seeks voting rights and Rajya Sabha Seats for NRIs

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New Delhi: An international convention of people of Indian-origin in the US has demanded voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India and Rajya Sabha seats for NRIs. “The Election Commission of India should finalise the procedure for electronic voting before the next general election in India takes place,” the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) said in a resolution passed during its annual convention in New York over the weekend.

There are 10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision making process of the country of their citizenship, it said. “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,” GOPIO said.

Over 200 delegates from 20 countries participated in the annual GOPIO convention Noting that many NRIs want to support their alma maters; set up schools and colleges in their villages and towns, and support social and environmental causes, GOPIO said however, they face major hurdles. “The clearance process through the Home Ministry is very time consuming and needs to be streamlined and made more efficient,” it said. “We want the government to enact legislation to designate Fast Track Courts for NRIs/PIOs for the speedy settlement of their property, business, inheritance and other legal issues in India,” it said.

“We call upon the Government of India to enact another legislation to provide Title Insurance to ensure that their ownership in real estate is protected against forged signatures on the deed and for any such fraudulent transfer of their properties,” GOPIO said. In its resolution, GOPIO asked the Indian government to implement uniform entrance fee throughout India including monuments under the jurisdiction of the states. Many NRIs/PIOs are moving back to India to be closer to their families, GOPIO said.

Once they settle back in India, their social security benefits (which are generally tax free in the developed countries (income comes below the tax bracket) are taxed according to the Indian tax rules. “We strongly feel that those who are getting their social security benefits from outside India should receive tax parity similar to Indian retirees and request the Finance Ministry to change the rules. Of course, such person’s Indian income must be taxed as per the rules,” it said.

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