In The Press: Diaspora survey finds NRIs ‘frustrated’ at restricted voting rights

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Non-resident Indians (NRIs) across the UK and Europe are overwhelmingly in favour of being able to vote through their local consulates or embassies, according to a survey conducted ahead of the General elections in India.

The survey, conducted by UK-based Indian diaspora think tank Bridge India, found that a majority of respondents felt “frustrated” at only being allowed to vote in the Indian elections by travelling back to their constituency to cast their vote.

Less than 6 per cent were happy with the status quo, while 61 per cent said they should be allowed to instead vote at their local consulate or embassy and 17 per cent said they should be allowed to appoint a proxy to cast their vote for them, Bridge India said in a statement on Monday.

“More than 60 per cent also strongly agreed with the statement that Indians should be allowed dual citizenship, which is currently not allowed, it noted.

The survey received over 350 responses over the last month, with one-third of the respondents identifying as NRIs and two-thirds as Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs). From among the respondents, 20 per cent identified themselves as left of centre on the political spectrum, 22 per cent as centrist and 29 per cent as right of centre.

Bridge India will release the complete results of its wider Indian diaspora survey later in the year.

The survey’s interim results coincided with the non-profit think tank’s Countdown to the Indian General Elections: What should we expect? event at the Henry Jackson Society in London on Monday.

The panellists at the event, which included strategists and authors, analysed the importance of the 2019 Indian General Election and their likely impact on India-UK relations.

If it is a BJP-led government, India-UK relations would move forward along the lines of the November 2015 visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when a joint statement on closer political and security cooperation was struck in the case of a Congress-led government, it would be a case of starting from ground zero, said Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Senior Fellow for South Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Some of the big successes of the bilateral relationship, such as Masala Bonds, as the UK seeks out global partners in a post-Brexit context will benefit from continuity in government [in India], added Pratik Dattani, Managing Director, EPG Economic and Strategy Consulting.

This article originally appeared in Business Standard here.

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