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An NRI with a patriotic leaning

Monday, March 30, 2015

An accomplished Hollywood actor for the last two decades, for 53-year-old Sunil Narkar adorning several hats at one go is no difficult task. Having appeared in American television serials like Boston Legal, Pacific Rim, New Girl and in more than 50 productions, he is more known to Indian audience for his portrayal of USB co-inventor Ajay Bhatt in the “Intel” advertisement of 2009, 2013 “Nike” and “Cisco” television commercials. He recently flew down to India for his first lead role as a doctor in a Marathi movie which was shot in Goa. Prashant Hamine has a brief chat with the Maharashtrian actor

With his Hollywood pursuits, Narkar has been active in promoting Indian culture in USA and is the steering committee member (fund raising and India programming) of the Bruhan Maharashtra Mandal of Los Angeles, Bay Area. A B.Sc in Chemistry from Mumbai University, Narkar has kept the flag flying high in the USA when it comes to organising cultural activities. A quintessential Mumbaikar from downtown Dadar, here in this conservation with ADC, Sunil Narkar talks about how the Maharashtrian community in Bay Area of Los Angeles looks at the Union Government and Election Commission of India to allow Non Resident Indian (NRI) and Overseas Indian Community (OIC) to vote in elections in India by postal or proxy voting.

What do you think of the move that shall now allow NRIs to vote in elections in India by Postal Ballot or Proxy Voting?
I am with the decision. I think very few Non Resident Indian's (NRIs) are paying attention to the actual activity going on in India. Both the Indian Government and the Election Commission of India need to be more proactive in this matter.

Do you feel that the move will help NRIs or Indian Diaspora to once again establish their link or strengthen their link with India?
We get all news in USA by TV and we are only exposed to the politics by TV and not newspaper or other media so anyway their thinking on the election is always totally different. We do keep a tab on the developments in India through the Internet editions of Indian newspapers and some Indian television channels.

Does the Indian community or members of your association follow the Indian elections here?
Yes we do, but do not have full knowledge of it to get the exact information. Majority of NRIs here are not aware of the activities of the Election Commission of India as regards to elections.

Have you, or any member of your association or from the Indian community registered themselves as NRI or Overseas Voter in India, Maharashtra or Mumbai. Can you share their names, photographs, contacts, email or any other details?
Personally I do not know anyone who has registered for these kind of services. There may have been some NRIs who might have registered themselves as voters in India.

Will you or the members of your association enroll as NRI voters? Has anyone from your association or from the community enrolled as a voter or voted here in any Indian elections so far?
I really have no idea. None of my friends have done that  in Southern California. Problem is that so far no representative of the Indian government has approached the NRI community here.

Is the move enough or something more needs to be done?
More needs to be done as we are unaware of any of these activities. As I said earlier the Indian government and the Election Commission of India needs to do more to spread awareness.

In Maharashtra just 13 NRIs have so far enrolled their names in the voter list. One of them, believed to be from Mahim, had even voted in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Should more NRIs come forward to enrol their names as voters?
Absolutely. If  NRIs who are in India for any reason during election and if they have earlier knowledge of that then they should take this advantage. Are there similar facilities in terms of postal ballot or proxy voting given in the USA as the ones now announced by the ECI before SC? Yes it is available in USA. We wish that similar facilities be made available to the Non Resident Indian (NRI) or Overseas Indian Community.

Should the members of your association and members of the Indian community take active part in elections in India?
It is their personal decision. Many of us do not know the candidate or the party in popularity. If one can really know the facts, they should be able to do that.

Has the Indian Consulate, the ECI or GOI approached your association or Indian community at large to enlist support for this move?
Not that I am aware of. Actually they should be proactive in approaching the NRI or Overseas Indian Community.

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