The full remittance story
This is in reference to the column “India must push for lower remittance costs” (November 14). India’s share in the global remittance pie is not just large volume-wise but also of incredible significance for the country’s economy. The FDI inflows to the country are much lower than remittances from Indians in the Gulf and the West. Thus, these are perhaps one of the biggest contributors to our forex reserves. Therefore, if costs of remittances are reduced, not only do the recipients of this money gain but also the country gets a more secure standing globally. In view of this, the Indian government must push for a lowering of remittance costs. There is also an incentive for the country to create white-collar professionals needed by the West and skilled workmen that the construction-hungry Gulf countries need. For the latter group, the initiatives taken by the government for skilling seem the best policy prescription. On the other hand, the Indian government, which has been benefitting from workers’ remittances from the Gulf, needs to wake up to the blatant violation of their rights and the poor living and employment conditions in which they function. Their plight has been highlighted in the media enough for the government to pursue talks through the diplomatic channels with the governments of the Gulf countries. India must not sit back and profit from the desperation for survival of its citizens.
Apropos of your recent edit “Compulsory voting”, the Gujarat government’s new legislation to make voting compulsory in local body elections is undemocratic, unimplementable and will not stand the the test of constitutionality. Compelling a citizen to do anything against his or her will goes against the notions of individual autonomy and freedom. Any measure that impinges on personal liberty, a central pillar of our constitutional edifice, is sure to be struck down by the apex court. The freedom not to vote is no less sacrosanct than the freedom to vote. No citizen can be forced to prove his ‘patriotic credentials’ by turning up at the polling booth. The “electoral right” as defined in the Representation of the People Act means “the right to vote or refrain from voting at an election”. Further, the distinction between a ‘statutory right’ and a ‘fundamental duty’ cannot be lost on us.
G David Milton
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu