No absentee voting for Indian diaspora this time

Updated 12 April 2014
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No absentee voting for Indian diaspora this time

India’s supreme court Friday ruled that absentee voting was not possible for the diaspora during the ongoing elections.
The court accepted the Election Commission’s argument that it was not possible for a review as the staggered elections were already in progress and an amendment was required in the election law, lawyers appearing for the petitioner said.
The petitioner, Shamseer V.P., a UAE-based entrepreneur, moved the court demanding e-vote or postal ballot.
The apex court bench of K.S. Radhakrishnan and Vikramajit Sen observed that a detailed hearing was required on the subject and that the possibility of allowing absentee ballot for resident Indians should be considered.
The court had on Monday enquired whether it could be possible to allow the registered voters to cast e-vote or postal ballot before the end of the last phase of polling on May 14.
The Election Commission’s attorney told the court that e-vote was under the consideration of the panel formed to study the issue, both legal and technical.
Despite providing the online registration option for the diaspora as voters this time, the election authorities received less than 14,000 valid applications, 12,653 of them from the southern state of Kerala where every third household has a member working abroad, mostly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The court, which began the hearing on the petition last month, termed disenfranchisement of more than 10 million citizens living abroad as “a serious matter of concern” and wondered why it took so long to reach the court.
“This is a good beginning and going by the positive comments made by the court, we are just one step away from having the right to exercise our franchise established,” said Shamseer.
As per official data, 10,037,761 Indians live abroad and they are entitled to register online and vote only if they were present in their constituencies at the time of elections. They were also allowed to register online and send their documents for verification by post to be able to vote here.
But most of them abstain as they were not sure of voting due to the restrictions. A pro-government group chartered a flight for 147 registered voters from the UAE this week and a few have managed to travel to vote on their own.
According to Shamseer, the court appeared to have been convinced that e-voting allowing expatriate to cast their vote from the comforts of their home using a high security password was easier and effective as a foolproof system was already in place.
While welcoming the court move, Kerala’s Congress-led government announced that it would explore the possibility of allowing e-voting in the civic polls next year.


North Korea’s Kim inspects new submarine, signals possible ballistic missile development

Updated 11 min 31 sec ago
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North Korea’s Kim inspects new submarine, signals possible ballistic missile development

  • The new data and combat weapon systems of submarine was built under Kim’s “special attention”
  • Experts said the size of the new submarine suggests it would eventually carry missiles

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a large newly built submarine, state news agency KCNA reported on Tuesday, potentially signaling continued development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.
Kim inspected the operational and tactical data and combat weapon systems of the submarine that was built under “his special attention,” and will be operational in the waters off the east coast, KCNA said.
KCNA said the submarine’s operational deployment was near.
“The operational capacity of a submarine is an important component in national defense of our country bounded on its east and west by sea,” Kim said.
KCNA did not describe the submarine’s weapon systems or say where and when the inspection took place.
North Korea has a large submarine fleet but only one known experimental submarine capable of carrying a ballistic missile.
Analysts said that based on the apparent size of the new submarine it appears designed to eventually carry missiles.
“We can clearly see that it is a massive submarine — much larger than the existing one that’s been well known since 2014,” said Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the US-based Federation of American Scientists.
“What I find significant about the political messaging here is that this is the first time since a February 2018 military parade that he has inspected a military system clearly designed to carry and deliver nuclear weapons.”
“I take that as an ominous signal that we should be taking Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline for the implementation of a change in US policy with the utmost seriousness.”
A South Korean defense ministry spokesman said they were monitoring developments but could not confirm if the submarine was designed to carry missiles.
Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said Kim likely also wanted to reassure North Koreans of his commitment to national defense at a time when he is focusing more on the economy.
“Announcing his inspection of the new submarine is also to build internal solidarity, to dispel people’s concerns about national security, reassure them, and boost military morale,” he said.
Submarine development
Kim has declared a moratorium on testing ICBM’s and nuclear weapons while engaging in denuclearization talks with the United States and South Korea.
The North’s submarine report comes amid another delay in dialogue between the United States and North Korea after Kim and US President Donald Trump agreed at a meeting at the Panmunjom Korean border on June 30 to working-level nuclear talks.
Trump said such talks could come in the following two to three weeks. His national security adviser, John Bolton, arrives in South Korea on Tuesday to meet security officials.
A summit between Trump and Kim, in Vietnam in February, broke down after they failed to narrow differences between a US demand for North Korea’s denuclearization and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.
In April, Kim said he would wait until the end of the year for the United States to be more flexible.
North Korea maintains one of the world’s largest submarine fleets, but many vessels are aging and there are doubts over how many are operational, according to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).
Most of North Korea’s fleet consists of small coastal submarines, but in recent years it has made rapid progress in the SLBM program, NTI said in a report released late last year.
In 2016, after a few years of development, North Korea successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine, while pursuing an intercontinental ballistic missile program (ICBM).
During the submarine inspection Kim was accompanied by Kim Jong Sik, an official who played a major role in North Korea’s missile program.
Another official on the tour was Jang Chang Ha, president of the Academy of the National Defense Science, which the US Treasury has said is in charge of the secretive country’s research and development of its advanced weapons systems, “including missiles and probably nuclear weapons.”
H.I. Sutton, a naval analyst who studies submarines, said judging by the initial photos the hull could be based on old Romeo Class submarines, which were originally acquired from China in the 1970s before North Korea began producing them domestically.
North Korea is believed to have about 20 Romeo submarines in its fleet, the newest of which was built in the mid 1990s, according to NTI.
Sutton told Reuters that the North Koreans appeared to have raised the deck on a Romeo-type design, possibly even modifying an existing Romeo to make a submarine larger than previous indigenous designs.
“I’d bet that this is indeed a missile submarine,” he said.
US-based monitoring group 38 North said in June 2018 that North Korea appeared to be continuing submarine construction at its Sinpo Shipyard of possibly another Sinpo-class ballistic missile submarine, based on commercial satellite imagery.
“This, to my eye, is the submarine that the US intelligence community has been calling the Sinpo-C, a successor to North Korea’s only known ballistic missile submarine,” Panda said.