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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Indian-Americans agog over Indian election

Washington -- Only a fraction of some three million Indian Americans have a vote back home. But everyone seems excited about the Lok Sabha elections that many hope will usher in a "clean government" and help put India on the world stage.

"Overseas Indians want a clean government in India" as "India has been missing out in the world stage," says Thomas Abraham, founder president of many major community organisations including the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO).
"We need a government which will keep ears open and seek out new ideas," Abraham told IANS, as he called for the involvement of NRIs and PIOs in areas of development in technology and business, education, healthcare as well as village development.
Noting that Indian Americans have played a major role in the last three decades to develop closer ties between India and the US, Abraham said the new Indian government must bring the two countries further closer.
Sanjay Puri, chairman of the US India Political Action Committee, which calls itself the political voice of Indian Americans, agrees.
"This election and a resultant government either incumbent or new can do a lot of good for India and Indian Americans in addressing" some perception and geopolitical issues, Puri told IANS.
"Indian Americans take pride in their origins and being from India," Puri said.
"However a regular drum beat of news about scandals relating to corruption and then the issue of women's safety impact the perception of India in the minds of Americans and especially Indian Americans."
Similarly, Indian Americans care about the role India plays in the region and globally.
"This election will have an impact on key aspects of India's foreign policy given that the existing coalition government has been hamstrung due to coalition politics on several issues," Puri said.
Both Puri and Abraham look at the arrival of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the political scene in a positive light.
"AAP's role is a welcome addition, Abraham said. "Before the Delhi (assembly) election, there was substantial contribution from American NRIs in terms of volunteers and financial contribution (to AAP).
But "as a party with a platform of anti-corruption, it must also become a responsible party to govern."
"Overall I think the rise of the AAP party has been received very positively given that governance or corruption has been one of the biggest concerns of the Indian American community," Puri said.
Also what has resonated with the Indian Americans, he said, was that AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal was an IIT- educated professional.
Many Indian Americans believe that more educated professionals need to participate in the political process in India.
Puri noted that some of the leading parties in India have an overseas presence and have very active members and supporters. Some of whom will be going to India to actively campaign.
Abraham calls the requirement of voting in person for NRIs "an injustice done to 10 million Indians who hold Indian passports who cannot exercise their right to vote".
He also suggested introduction of "electronic voting using a password" or alternatively allotment of two Lok Sabha seats for Overseas Indians.

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