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New Delhi, Sept. 29

The Government is likely to introduce an amendment to the Representation of People's (RPA) Act in the next session of Parliament to allow voting rights for the non-residential Indians (NRIs), said the Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi.

He made the statement while announcing the Fifth Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD), 2007, on the theme `Rooting for the Roots - Meeting India's Social Development Challenges' on Thursday.

Mr Ravi said the fifth PBD would be held here from January 7-9. The event will focus on social sectors, including education, healthcare, women, youth and investment. Another feature of the PBD would be the sessions on geographical regions, which have large concentrations of overseas Indians.

The Minister said the PBD held at Hyderabad in 2006, the first Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card was issued that allows its members free access to India and gives them all the rights except political privileges.

So far 56,900 OCI cards have been issued, pointed out Mr Ravi. He said that other issues raised at the previous PBDs such as easier travel to India including special immigration counters, facilitating remittances to India through a single window system of the UTI bank and increasing the number and amount of scholarships, had also been addressed. "We have also raised the quantum of the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana to Rs 5 lakhs," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 30, 2006)
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