Why NRIs Shouldn’t Vote

A Bill that allows non-resident Indians to vote in India’s general elections has been given clearance by the Union Cabinet and will be introduced in Parliament soon for approval. [Link]

My views on voting rights to non-resident Indians are simple and to put it straight up front – I think NRIs should not be allowed to vote. Voting, for starters, decides the course that ‘mainland’ India takes every 5 years. This also means that the lives of a billion-plus people depend directly on this foremost activity (and duty, actually).

So what is actually supposed to be an activity of deep significance, can end up as nothing but a symbolic expression of ‘love’ or ‘patriotism’ when NRIs get to vote. NRIs, it can be safely said, are ‘another country’. Yes, they are Indians.

But voting and deciding the governing leaders of a place they do not live in (or don’t intend to, in many cases, for the rest of their lives) is offering too much power, minus any responsibility or accountability. No matter how much NRIs argue in favour of voting in India, they will find it difficult to justify not being accountable in all aspects, be it benefitting or suffering from the peoples’ choice of leaders.

The basic point I attempt to make in this argument is that if you do not live in the place, then it is unwise of you to play a role in hugely significant activities like general elections. NRIs contribute to the growth and rise of India in several ways, and it would be of continual benefit to India if they continued to impact the mainland in their own noble ways, ways that directly contribute to the Indian economy.

Voting, like Bollywood movies or cricket matches, isn’t an area where the quintessential NRI can chest-thump his/her ‘love’ for India (feelings usually linked with traditions, culture and the usual Bollywood/cricket). Again, it can be said that this love is a mere impulse, a basic feeling. It may last for long, but it does not mean much.

If emotions were to decide national policy, then India will be known as a ‘goodwill-God’ (of course, complemented by the usual widespread poverty, unemployment, poor state of public health, corruption etc). But the job, fortunately, of the Government is to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all her people.

NRIs can make several differences, no matter how small. Remittances and investments are strong areas of contribution, as is tourism. Something as simple as talking positively about India to their foreign friends and encouraging them to visit the country can also go a long way. Fortunately, NRIs already do all this. And much more.

Voting, however, may not be a wise idea.

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7 thoughts on “Why NRIs Shouldn’t Vote

  1. I don’t know if this is the case with majority of the NRIs, but they go home on a yearly basis, they have family(parents mostly), they have their homes and land, sometimes they also have businesses.
    And I feel they have a right to vote on the basis that the outcome affects these things.
    It’s not a very strong argument, but this is what I feel.

  2. I am a NRI and I strongly disagree!

    Who says people living in the “mainland” know better than NRIs what is best for the country?
    Who says voting for us will be “symbolic” ? and not actually wanting to contribute to the welfare of country?

    Who says people in “mainland” understand the root of problems plaguing the country better than NRIs?

    Who says people in “mainland” love their country more than NRIs?

  3. Couldnt agree with u more also my personal opinion is that the view point of an NRI on what is better is totally different than the view point of a person living here

  4. If you don’t have to live with the consequences of your vote, you should not be allowed to vote. If you live in a country that is not governed by laws that are created and executed by Indian legislators – why should you elect an India legislator?

    If you need some kind of honour badge to declare your “indianess”… stay away from the ballot box. We need people to exercise their minds and not their hearts.

    Many citizens in India live away from their home constituency (like me). If you believe voting is important you will find a way to reach the polling booth on polling day.

  5. Agree with the first comment. Many NRIs have businesses in India and Hoverents decisions do have an impact on their lives, taking away their voting right doesn’t seem to be wise.

  6. I’ll have to disagree with this one.

    You cant boast of NRI achievements, take their remittances, and deny them the right to vote. They are as Indian as the ones who sell their votes for a bottle of desi.

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