EC working on NRI voting rights, says Sushma Swaraj

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday assured the non-resident Indians (NRIs) that they may soon get voting rights as the Election Commission (EC) is working on it.

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday assured the non-resident Indians (NRIs) that they may soon get voting rights as the Election Commission (EC) is working on it.

" EC is working on it, there are two suggestions - proxy voting or the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) be kept in embassies or they may come and vote. They will soon come up with a solution," said Swaraj while addressing a press conference on 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan

Highlighting the events to be organised on the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD), she said: "We have organised a Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on January 7 in which kids of Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) will come to India and participate in it on the first day."

"We have two special sessions for it out of which one is 'bharat ko jaano' which means the kids will be told about India's ancient culture, arts and all those things which we are proud of, India's warmth, hospitality. Second session will be 'bharat ko maano' which means that India is not only proud of its ancient culture but also makes Mars Orbiter Mission, missile technologies, etc. So it will throw light on India's innovations," she added.

"Thirdly the kids will be divided in four universities which are Petroleum, Law, IT and Entrepreneurship Development University and they will themselves organize cultural evening, dinners and will also have interactive sessions with University students so that they can get to know about these four universities," Swaraj said.

She also told the media that on January 8 Guyana President Donald Ramotar will be the Chief Guest and added that South Africa's Foreign Minister has also been invited. According to reports she has accepted the invitation.

She also disclosed about the new plenary sessions that would be organised by the Government on the occasion of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.

"Ministers related to flagship programmes run by the government in these six months will come here and speak and will also welcome Pravasai Bharatiyas to participate in it. It includes Navami Ganga, Swacch Bharat, Kaushal Vikas -Skill Development, Urban Planning- Smart Cities and Tourism," Swaraj said.

"Another new plenary session is Achievers of Indian Diaspora in which we will choose speakers from those Indians who have achieved something in their field in the world and have represented India there," she added.

She said that there will also be a CMs' session. "On January 9, there will be CMs' session and so far we have received the acceptance of 10 CMs. In this the CMs of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra have been invited. They will talk about investment opportunities in their states.

She added that according to their calculation so far around 3000 Pravasi Bharatiya will participate in it, and Indians both NRIs and PIOs will come here.

"For the first time we have organised four concurrent sessions on January 9. One is for Indians in PIO countries-the ones, who were 'endangered labor'; who went abroad on an agreement. And another session is for Indians in gulf countries in which we are also calling gulf ambassadors. Then there is also a session on French speaking Diaspora called Francophone.

January 9, 2015 has been chosen for the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas because it's the 100th year since Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa. The event will highlight Mahatama Gandhi's achievements after coming to India.