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Modi should grant voting rights to Indian diaspora in US: OFBJP

Overseas wing of the BJP in the US has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider granting voting rights to non-resident Indians (NRIs) besides opening more consulates to facilitate the diaspora community.

“NRIs should be granted voting rights. This can be done either by mail or by voting in the respective nearest consulate,” a memorandum submitted to Modi in a meeting with Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) delegation said yesterday.

“Indian Diaspora should be provided facility in US at Indian consulates to enroll them for UIDAI card (Aadhar card),” it said.

The delegation led by OFBJP president Chandrakant Patel sought to open more consulates in the US, new direct flights to India from various US cities, easing the process to apply for visa or Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card besides allowing OCI card holders to buy up to 20 acres of land, and security for the property owned by NRIs.

“One of the most important requirements of the Indian diaspora is to facilitate an easy transportation of the bodies of deceased of Indian origin people back to India. The current procedures are very cumbersome and costly. These procedures should be relaxed, made simple, low cost, and time sensitive,” the memorandum added.

The delegation said that Indian consulate offices in the US should be service oriented with a sincere and courteous attitude to serve the community with respect to passport and visa services.

“However, in several instances we had faced unnecessary hurdles in the past and were treated unprofessionally by the consulate staff.

“Aged people were made to wait for hours and days in some cases. Often, people do not get their phones answered or calls returned,” it said while seeking mobile visa camps in US.

India Cultural Centres should be established in New York, Washington and Los Angeles by the Government of India to facilitate people-to-people interaction between US and India.

The Centres would also highlight India’s capabilities, history and culture to the interested US population and 2nd generation Indian Americans. China has already started similar centres, the memorandum mentioned.

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