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For OCIs, traveling to India is now easier but confusing too
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement about the merger of the persons of Indian origin (PIO) and overseas citizens of India (OCI) schemes in September, followed by a home ministry notification in January that all PIO card holders will be deemed OCI card holders, an important issue of the overseas Indian community has been sorted out.
However, the implementation of the new merged scheme is not without hiccups and many of the former PIO card holders have been facing some confusion when travelling to India. Some Indian high commissions and consulates overseas have, in fact, been holding outreach programmes among the Indian community to address the complaints and problems.
According to notifications issued by the various Indian missions overseas and circulated among the Indian community, the PIO card scheme has been abolished and all PIO cards issued before January 9, 2015 have been converted to OCI cards. The facilities that OCI card holders enjoy include lifelong validity of the card with no registration needed with the foreigners’ regional registration offices in India if the stay exceeds 180 days.
However, PIO cards issued on or after January 9, 2015 are not valid and card holders have to apply for a refund of their fees and reapply for an OCI card.
According ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) sources, the PIO card, which came at a lower fee and was issued faster, usually within a week, was preferred by many for travel to India at short notice. Now that the card has been scrapped, there is a longer wait for the OCI card for which a more rigorous security check has to be carried out for applicants. The process can currently take up to 10 weeks. The Indian government is, however, working on a time frame of 21 days to issue OCI cards, and till security and other issues are sorted out, gratis tourist visas are being issued to those who have OCI applications in process but need to travel to India immediately.
“There is still some confusion among the holders of OCI and PIO cards about the implications of the merger of both the schemes. Further, some of the immigration officials at Indian ports of entry are also not clear about the changes,” says Sanjay Puri, chairman of the Washington DC-based US Indian Political Action Committee. He adds that the Indian government’s visa-on-arrival scheme, too, is causing confusion among those who don’t have valid PIO or OCI cards because many don’t know that they have to first apply online and get an email confirmation of their travel authorisation and can’t just show up at an Indian port of entry with their foreign passports.
“The Indian missions in the US and other countries and the external affairs ministry are working with the Indian community overseas on educating them. But it will take some time for the information to trickle down to the community and within the consulates too,” Puri adds.
The other issue which is creating confusion for the overseas Indian community is the decision by the Indian government to dispense with the universal, or U-visa sticker, on the foreign passport of OCI card holders with immediate effect, and to modify the OCI registration certificate in the form booklet to provide for the endorsement ‘visa validity-lifelong’. However, it is advised that passport containing “U” sticker may be carried with the new passport and OCI registration card, wherever it is possible. But immigration authorities in India have also been advised not to insist on production of the foreign passport containing the “U” visa sticker and to grant clearance based on production of the OCI card only.
“Such government notifications are very confusing not just for OCI card holders traveling to India but also for diplomatic officials at the missions and immigration officials at the Indian ports of entry. It is necessary to educate everyone when new rules come into effect to avoid problems for OCI travelers,” says, a retired Indian Foreign Service officer.
Source : indiatimes.com
NRIs In Home Run As Economy Surges
The trend of Indians returning from abroad to work here has picked up pace with the recovery in the country’s economy. Counter intuitively this is even as the monetary benefit that these executives could expect to earn has reduced over the last few years. The gap in premium between what the managers would have expected, say, three years back and now has nearly halved, say hiring experts. However, the reasons for the homing pigeons coming back to their lofts are quite similar — family matters and better job prospects.
Despite halving premiums, the trend is no longer restricted to largely IT as was seen earlier. Recruitment experts say it’s a more broad-based trend now encompassing sectors like banking and finance, pharma, auto, textiles and food processing. “With the recovery of the Indian economy and increase in the number of Indian companies looking to expand globally, there is a definite rise in the number of Indian repatriates,” said Moorthy K Uppaluri, CEO, Randstad India, a leading recruitment and staffing firm.
Should NRIs return to India?
The search for top talent coupled with high inflation in India has helped to reduce the difference in compensation between India and the western countries. “About a decade ago, the difference in the junior and middle levels was as much as 75%, and at the top management level it was about 50% to 60%. Today, the difference at the junior and middle levels is about 50%, and at the top it’s just about 30% to 40%,” said Uppaluri.
According to Nilay Khandelwal, regional director, Michael Page, a recruitment firm, the difference is thinning down on functions which have been in India for a longer time than others, such as analytics, risk, finance and operations in banking. “The gap has been reduced as the early movers had a better advantage than people moving at later stages. So, for example, a 40-50% premium in the past is now reduced to 20-30%,” said Khandelwal.
Post the financial crisis of 2008, banks in India started grooming talent from within so that they don’t have to rely on expats and returning Indians. In finance and operations, where the supply is greater than the demand, Khandelwal said the gap in premium salary (pre-2011 levels and now) for returning Indians has reduced. “So if a VP level in finance and operations was earlier coming at Rs 50 lakh, he/she today is ready to take up the assignment for between Rs 35-40 lakh,” said Khandelwal.
Foreign banks in particular are witness to this reversal of brain drain. “We have seen a lot of interest across the developed markets from managers wanting to relocate to India, whether for personal or professional reasons. In the last 18 months, the trend of returning Indians has gathered momentum,” said Anuranjita Kumar, chief HR officer, Citi South Asia. “The last time around when we witnessed such a trend was a decade ago between 2005-07 when Indian GDP growth was around 8% to 9%. However, following the subsequent uncertainty surrounding the global financial crisis and lower growth in India, the trend plateaued out,” said Kumar.
At Citi, Indian managers based abroad with varied experience have indicated their interest to come back to India, given the positive market sentiment. As compared to the 9% growth in compensation in the Indian banking sector, developed markets offer around 2%. “More than compensation, the opportunity for these managers is in up-skilling themselves in a growing market like India,” said Kumar.
With economic growth stalling in the West, leading to slower career growth opportunities, India is a market which appears to be more dynamic, offering better job prospects to NRIs. What’s assisting the process is a change in the standard of living in India and its education system.
For Akash Kapoor (name changed on request), a senior management official working for a multinational bank, who returned to India after spending over a decade in London, adjusting to the improved quality of life which came at a more affordable rate was clearly a plus point. “The standard of living has risen here and international schooling is, in fact, better and more affordable,” said Kapoor, who returned to India so that his children could reconnect with their roots.
While Kapoor declined to give a comparison of what he earned in pounds in London and now in India in rupee terms, he sees a lot of the other Indians settled abroad considering relocating to India with a number of jobs being offshored and roles being developed for the market here.
“NRIs are in demand as they have gained experience in developed markets. Generally, they are considered to have worked in a more professional environment, where ownership and decision-making has been encouraged. In addition to this, they have a good understanding of the cultural differences between India and other developed markets,” said Khandelwal.
Employers value the international experience, but the skill set the person has acquired abroad should also be transferable to the Indian market. “If someone has built a career in finance and has no knowledge of the Indian accounting and tax regulations, it will make the job search more difficult,” said Khandelwal.
Source : Times of india
NRI, PIO can invest up to 24 percent in Zicom Electronic Security
“Non Resident Indians (NRIs)/Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) can now invest up to 24 percent of the paid up capital of Zicom Electronic Security Systems Ltd under the Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS),” RBI said in a notification.
The purchases could be made through primary market and stock exchanges.
FIIs, NRIs and PIOs (Persons of Indian Origins) can invest in primary and secondary capital markets in India through PIS.
The RBI monitors the ceilings on FII/NRI/PIO investments in Indian companies on a daily basis and has fixed the cut-off points two percentage points lower than the actual ceiling.
Zicom Electronic shares closed at Rs 161.90 per share on the BSE on Thursday, down 0.61 percent from the previous close.
NRI-owned Firm to Develop New Techniques for Diamond Industry
SINGAPORE: An NRI-owned firm on Tuesday launched a green-house plant, touted to be the world’s largest, to produce synthetic diamonds and a research centre for developing innovative techniques for the diamond industry.
The 2,00,000-square-foot facility will use the company’s patented diamond-growing process to produce colourless, high quality diamonds.
“The centre will generate new applications for diamonds, either from existing research ideas or something completely out of the box, by working with industry partners and research partners,” deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said at Tuesday’s launch of IIa Technologies’ new facilities.
“This has important spin-offs for other industries as many technology applications experience thermal issues as devices miniaturize,” said Tharman, highlighting IIa Technologies’ eight years of research and technology development to grow diamonds in Singapore.
“Diamond is, as you know, an excellent heat sink because of its superior thermal conductivity. We look forward to seeing IIa Technologies spinning off new innovative applications and collaborations through its co-creation Centre,” said Thrman, who is also Singapore’s finance minister.
IIa Technologies was established by the Mehta Family’s third generation professionals in the gems and jewellery industry and diamond expert Dr Devi Shanker Misra.
Speaking to PTI at the opening of the SGD110 million plant, IIa Technologies’ chief executive officer Vishal Mehta said plans are to increase capacity to grow diamonds to 4,50,000 carats a year from the Singapore plant in two years from the current 3,00,000 carats.
Expansion of the plant, which is currently growing 3,00,000 carats, would be to meet the ever increasing demand, which is estimated 30 per cent on the year.
Source : Times Of India
Long Term Fund From Parag Parikh Aims to Attract NRI Community
Parag Parikh Financial Advisory Services seems to be focusing on Kerala’s NRI community for its long-term value fund, considering its response in some of the southern States.
PPFAS Long Term Value Fund (PLTVF) is an open-ended, equity-oriented scheme with flexibility to invest a minimum of 65 per cent in Indian equities and up to 35 per cent in overseas equity securities and domestic debt/money market securities. It was opened on May 28, 2013 and has exposure in Google.
The Long Term Value Fund is ideal for those looking for more than five years of investment, Parag Parikh, founder and Chairman, PPFAS, said.
Confident of impact
Looking at the overwhelming response from Chennai and Bengaluru, he said the company would like to build a track record.
The combined investment of the promoters, directors and staff of PPFAS in the fund comes to around 9 per cent of the value. According to him, South Indian investors (both resident and NRIs) have been very positive towards long-term value funds and prefer a conservative style of fund management. The company is confident its approach, which focuses on capital preservation and providing reasonable, inflation-beating returns, would appeal to them.
A stock market veteran, Parikh, who was in Kochi to popularise the fund, said people today are scared of investing in equity markets because of their volatility. Investors would find it difficult in understanding the behaviour of stock markets. For them, he suggested mutual funds as an investment vehicle to provide long-term returns. The MF industry, according to him, would do well in India but the challenge is to get educated and financially literate investors.
With an investor base of more than 3,500, the fund has assets of nearly ₹600 crore as on February.
PPFAS Long Term Value Fund is the first mutual fund to organise an AGM. The latest NAV of the regular plan is 16.30
Source: The Hindu Business Line
NRI Grooms Spend Top Dollar on Note-Garland
The pomp of the big, fat north Indian weddings is legendary. One of the most visible ceremonial props is the garland of currency notes that the groom wears. In shops and street baraats, it is common to spot the horse-riding groom sporting a garland made of Rs 10, Rs 100, Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes. NRIs do it their own way-they go for dollar garlands.
Numerous shops in Delhi service these clients, who come to them with wads of dollar bills to make garlands. Sellers say these garlands are worn both in domestic weddings to underline one’s NRI status, or taken abroad where the ritualistic accessory can belong better.
“Last year we made 24 such dollar garlands for NRI customers who were visiting. The customers bring the dollar bills since we cannot procure them,” says Rajesh Arora of Krishna Tracer store in west Delhi’s Tilak Nagar market. The store, nearly 60 years old, has been making these garlands for about 25 years now. At least in west Delhi, the popularity is noteworthy.
“These have become more popular in the last 3-4 years. There weren’t as many people getting these made earlier. The adjoining Chokhandi area has a lot of affluent Punjabi families who have relatives settled abroad. These dollar garlands are a status symbol for them,” says Arora, who points out that currency garlands have become a feature even in non-Punjabi weddings. “Canadian dollars are rare. People usually prefer dollars as they are more recognizable,” he says.
These fads are common in areas with a large Punjabi population, says H S Khandelwal of Roopam Silver and Zari in Karol Bagh market.
“It is mostly NRIs who get it done. We ask them for the currency notes, and charge according to the quality of a maala and making charges. A maala can cost anywhere between Rs 50 and Rs 2,000-the elaborate ones with embedded stones cost more,” he says.
He adds, “making costs range from Rs 20 to Rs 50, it all depends on the number of notes you want and how you want them arranged”.
Speaking to wedding accessories stores in Karol Bagh, Raigarpura, and Old Delhi’s Kinaari Bazaar, one finds a readiness among shopkeepers to make these dollar garlands.
“You bring us the currency. We will make it for you, no problem,” is their standard response. While Krishna Tracer in Tilak Nagar claims to get heavy business, other stores in the rest of Delhi claim to get only 4-5 such orders in a year.
In Chandni Chowk’s Kinari Bazaar, Shadi Ram Triloki Nath had one man get a garland made of British pounds from them.
“The garland had 100 pounds on it altogether,” says the proprietor Sushil Kumar. In Raigarpura, close to Karol Bagh, there is a dedicated street corner with carts and stalls displaying 10-rupee note garlands. Krishna Kumar, has only begun to get the odd dollar carrying customer in the last two years. “Customers mostly take it abroad for weddings in the US,” says Kumar.
However, Narain Dass and Sons in Karol Bagh, says that the currency note garland trend on the whole is on the wane in the country. “In India, at least, people don’t like using these anymore. They increasingly find the trend outdated. NRIs still take it for their weddings,” says Deepak Malhotra, one of the store-owners.
Source: Times of India
NRI deposits in Kerala rise to Rs 94,097 crore in 2013-14
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The NRI deposits in Kerala witnessed a growth of 41.84 per cent to Rs 94,097 crore in 2013-14, according to state government document.
The total NRI deposits as on March 2013 were Rs 66,190 crore. Private sector banks mobilised major portion of the NRI deposits followed by State Bank of TravancoreBSE -3.19 %, according to the state economic review-2014, presented in the state assembly today.
On economic sitation, the review said at current price the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) growth rate was 13.4 per cent, which was higher than the previous year.
However, the review said an analysis showed that primary sector showed a negative growth rate of minus 1.36 per cent during the year.
“Negative growth in agriculture is generally because of the decrease in production of some of the cash crops,” the report said.
On social sector changes, review said enrolment of students in the state has been showing a decline in the recent years. Enrolment of students in 2014-15 was 38.01 lakh and has decreased by 1.24 per cent over the previous year.
On migrant labour force, the report said there were more than 25 lakh migrant workers in the state with an annual arrival rate of 2.35 lakh from other states. Of the total Inter State Migrant workers, West Bengal leads with 47 per cent of ISM, followed by Odisha by 16 per cent and Assam 9 per cent.
Govt Stand on Land Bill irks Farmers
Various farmer organisations are up in arms against the amendments made to the Land Acquisition Bill and non-implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report
The BKU group has planned a farmers’ rally at Khanna on March 24. Among others, it will be addressed by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. The Ajmer Singh Lakhowal group of the BKU will start its protest in New Delhi from March 18. Almost all farmer organisations are against the amendments to the Land Act.
“We will be moving to New Delhi with a large number of farmers”, Balbir Singh Rajewal of the BKU said adding that there were three issues on which his organisation would be focusing. First was the amendments made to the Land Acquisition Bill 2013, another non-implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report and the third setting up a separate budget for the farm sector.
We will be camping in New Delhi till the government announces to implement the commission report. We have sought a separate budget for the agriculture sector on the pattern of the Railway budget,” he said.
Rajewal said his organisation was also concerned over the Shanta Kumar committee report. Its implementation would hit the states like Punjab and Haryana. “We want the Union Government to give a categorical assurance that the FCI would continue to procure foodgrain from food surplus states like Punjab,” he said.
“Anna Hazare has decided to visit Punjab for four days starting March 21.He would pay obeisance at the Golden Temple on March 21 and the next day, he would attend a function in Jalandhar and on March 23, he would be at Khatkar Kalan to pay tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh”, said Rajewal.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri Group is already holding dharnas in support of farmers’ demands. The All India Kisan Sabha headed by Prem Singh Bhangu has also started protest dharnas at district headquarters.
Farmer organisations are upset over the stand taken by the Akali MPs in the Lok Sabha on the amendments. First the SAD took a tough stand against the amendments outside the House and later supported the same when the Bill was presented for voting.
As per the Swaminathan Commission report, the farmers have been demanding at least 50 per cent higher minimum support price (MSP) than the average cost of production of various crops.
Bhangu said the commission’s other recommendations that had not been implemented included setting up of agriculture risk fund, market price stabilisation fund and gram panchayat mahila fund.
“The commission report is multi-volume and it has a plethora of recommendations for various sectors. In fact, it has also addressed social issues related to farmers such as child-care centres, support services for women like crèches, nutrition and health and training, timely, adequate and easy reach to institutional credit and farm friendly insurance instruments,” he said.
Though various recommendations made by the commission were incorporated in the National Policy for Farmers 2007, the MSP element was not included.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, almost all political parties, especially the SAD and the BJP, had assured the farmers that if voted to power, they would implement the Swaminathan Commission report regarding the MSP. But, this has not been done so far. In fact, the Union Government has backed off from the promise.
Tota Singh reviews NRI complaints
Several NRIs have written letters of appreciation to the Deputy Commissioners after their complaints were resolved following the NRI Sangat Darshans organised by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The same was informed by NRI Affairs Minister Tota Singh after a review meeting of complaints filed by NRIs from Ludhiana district on Wednesday.
Addressing the media, Tota Singh said 113 complaints were received for Ludhiana district in the sangat darshan, of which 51 were related to police and 62 to civil cases. He added 57 had been disposed of while 56 remained pending. Of these 11 are related to civil cases while the others deal with the police. Pending complaints will be resolved in a few days, the minister added.
Tota Singh said that to ensure speedy justice for NRIs, the state government was also setting up special courts. He said that Punjab was the only state that has set up a separate department to look into NRI complaints, apart from the NRI police stations that have proved successful. He added that Fard Kendras set up by the stategovernment were also proving beneficial for NRIs, who could now easily get records of their land.
The meeting was attended by Principal Secretary NRI Affairs Sanjay Kumar, IG NRI Wing Gurpreet Deo, DC Rajat Agarwal, DCP Naveen Singla, SSP Ludhiana (Rural) Ravcharan Singh Brar, SSP (Khanna) Gurpreet Singh Gill and others.
Source : indianexpress.com
NRI founded healthcare opens 100-bed hospital in Dubai
An NRI founded healthcare facility has inaugurated a 100-bed hospital in Dubai to meet the growing demands of super-speciality care by providing “holistic treatment” to the residents in the Gulf emirate.
The new branch of Aster DM Healthcare was inaugurated by UAE Minister of Health Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais at Mankhool-Bur locality here.
“The hospital will cater to the growing demands for super- speciality care by providing holistic treatment to the residents,” the healthcare’s founder Azad Moopen, a native of Kerala and Delhi University alumnus said yesterday.
With nearly three decades in the healthcare sector, the Dubai-based group operates over 239 health facilities across the Middle East and India.
“We developed the Hospital guided by the need for superior medical service offerings and beds to improve patient experience. As a healthcare network, we significantly contribute to the UAE medical sector by means of the three different brands we are proud of- Medicare, Aster and Access.
“These facilities offer primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary care meeting the requirement of people from a cross section of the society,” Moopen, Chairman and Managing Director of the healthcare said.
The Hospital also has a speciality mother and neonatal care unit to provide tertiary level care during pregnancy and to premature babies, especially critically-ill neonates,” Alisha Moopen, Director of Aster DM Healthcare said.
Source : business-standard.com