Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, Founding Member & Trustee of ADR, on NRIs Vs MRIs

SEC proposes postal ballot system for NRIs, Founding Member of ADR, Prof Jagdeep Chhokar raises some valid concerns. 1. Of the estimated 1 crore population of NRIs across the world, 60 lakhs are eligible to cast votes. EC seems to be going through a lot of effort to ensure voting rights to NRIs while our own MRIs (Migrant Resident Indian) do not seem to enjoy the same privilege. 2. For an estimated 28.50 crore (38% of the total registered voters in the country) migrants in India who are eligible to cast votes, there is no practical arrangement in place by the EC to exercise their franchise. The recommendation of the EC that migrants register as voters in their place of work is not doable as they are always on the move and a majority of them are not literate. Investing their time in registering as voters means foregoing their wages for a few days, which will also be true in case they choose to travel back to their villages to cast votes. 3. A practical arrangement that allows 28.50 crore migrants to cast their votes conveniently from anywhere in the country rather than giving preference to 60 lakh NRIs is the need of the hour. 4. As per a Dec 21 media report, EC is examining a plan to allow migrants to vote in their candidates' constituencies and will deliberate on a conceptual framework of the technology to enable voting from anywhere. While this is an encouraging development, the conceptual framework is still to be discussed, which means there is still time, raising questions whether the same will be in place before the 2024 general elections.

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