Nearly a year after the Bill proposing the extension of proxy voting to NRI voters lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had proposed the extension of the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) to the overseas Indian voters on November 2020. Recently, the Election Commission announced that this facility would not be extended to the NRI for the upcoming assembly elections that are to take place in April-June this year. While such a facility is required for enabling expats to exercise their right to vote, the government must tread with caution during the implementation of such an elaborate process.
India is among the largest contributors of expatriates across the globe. Majority of these Indian expats are located in Gulf countries, which have the largest portion of foreign workers within their territories. With the protectionist sentiments running high, there has been a mass exodus of expats from various parts of the world into the country, especially from the Gulf region, reducing the remittance inflow and increasing stress on the already suffering Indian economy. Yet, these can be seen as a blessing in disguise as it provides the opportunity for India to make use of this highly skilled workforce to achieve economic development and self-reliance.