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NRIs Favor UPA for Stable Government

Los Angeles, June 26, 2009
Inder Singh

The NRI/PIO population throughout the globe is elated at the outcome of the recently concluded elections in India. The incumbency factor has favored Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his truncated United Progressive Alliance (UPA) -- truncated because UPA members, Lalu Prasad, leader of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Ram Vilas Paswan, leader of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), hoping to win more seats in the Lok Sabha election, chose to form another alliance but are now regretting their pre-election folly. Congress-led UPA has emerged as the favorite party, leaving Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the distant second. The Left Front which opposed the Nuclear Deal with the US and withdrew support from the UPA government suffered the most at the hands of the voters.

In appraising Manmohan Singh’s first term accomplishments, The Telegraph in its issue of May 17, 2009 wrote, “The two most momentous decisions of independent India were authored by the same man — the decision to liberalize the economy and the one to sign the nuclear deal with the US. The former freed India from the shackles of the Hindu rate of growth and the latter gave India entry to sit at the high table of international politics. It is significant that these steps were taken by the man who is often scoffed at for being too weak. This criticism revealed that in Indian politics basic decency and civility are interpreted as weakness. Manmohan Singh demonstrated his strength through his actions and not through the power of his lungs.”

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who carry Indian passports do not have right to vote in an Indian election and had no direct effect on the outcome of the election. But their indirect support to UPA won many votes for the UPA coalition. Indo-US nuclear deal for which the Indian community in the US played a major role in its passage, was considered as one of the major accomplishments of the UPA government. And rightfully so, as this landmark deal ended years of isolation enforced in the wake of the 1974 Pokharan nuclear tests and restored India’s prestige in the comity of nations.

The Indo-US nuclear deal was not the only significant accomplishment of the UPA government. Double-digit growth in the economy during the major part of Manmohan Singh’s term, rural job guarantee program, and massive loan waiver for farmers were equally laudable. The creation of Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry to look after the issues and concerns of overseas Indians was a commendable decision. The ministry, since its inception, has established Indian Facilitation Center, a PIO university, Internship program for Indian youth, Scholarship program for university education for PIO children and has also started Overseas Citizenship of India scheme. There are some more initiatives that the Ministry have taken benefiting various segments of the NRI/PIO community.

Mr. Manmohan Singh has become well known all over the world, particularly among the 25 million NRIs/PIOs, as an honest man; pity though, he has not succeeded in rooting out corruption among his ministerial colleagues and bureaucrats. He leads a simple life but could not convince greedy business leaders to “resist excessive remuneration” to whom he advised in 2007, "In a country with extreme poverty, industry needs to be moderate in the emoluments levels it adopts." Incidentally, after becoming president of the United States, Barack Obama has been advocating reasonable compensation for industry leaders and has advocated even salary caps.

As Manmohan Singh and his United Progress Alliance are getting ready for the second term, people in India have high hopes of steady economic growth and implementation of a reform agenda which the Left had blocked during their four years of “conditional” support of the UPA government. In addition, there are several urgent issues of concern and interests to the global NRI community. These include: NRIs being deprived of their right to vote in an election as India does not have an absentee ballot system. Several NRIs have inherited properties while many have purchased during the last few years. Indian tenancy laws are so antiquated that they help tenants and others grab NRI properties leading to prolonged lawsuits to recoup “stolen” properties. The Overseas Indians hope that Manmohan Singh government will initiate and pass suitable legislation to meet their legitimate demands.

Inder Singh regularly writes and speaks on Indian Diaspora. He is President of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). He was president of National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) from 1988-92 and chairman from 1992-96. He was founding president of Federation of Indian Associations in Southern California. He can be reached at






Inder Singh