Navaratri and Durga Puja

This weekend culminates the nine-day festival of Navaratri, Dasara and Durga Puja, celebrated by Indians around the world.

Vijayadashami also known as Dasahara, Dusshera, Dasara, Dussehra or Dashain is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. It is observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, the seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October. While the basis of the festival is similar – the worship of Godess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, the mode of celebration varies across communities.

  • Gujaratis – Gujaratis are known for their large dance parties known as ‘garbas’. Many grounds in the city play host to these garba celebrations. “We wear a traditional garment called the ‘chaniya choli,’ which is similar to a ‘lehenga’ but made with cotton fabric.” Performances include songs in praise of goddess Durga. The highlight of their festival is the dancing and singing.
Image result for navratri in america
Students at an American university campus celebrating Garba
  • Marwaris – The Marwaris celebrate the festival of Navratri by worshipping goddess Shakti. The nine different forms of the goddess are worshipped on the rest nine days. “On the ninth day, there is a ceremony known as ‘Kanya Pujan’ where girl children are given traditional delicacies as a sign of respect to the goddess,” says Ekta Poddar, a student. Another ceremony called ‘havan’ is performed to mark the power and grace of Durga. The tenth day is ‘Vijayadasami’, the victory of good over evil, where idols of Ravan are burnt.
Image result for ram lila burning
Ram-Lila in Delhi
  • Tamilians – The Tamil community focuses on the ‘golu’ arrangement, or the doll display, during this time.The dolls are arranged on an odd number of steps and depict scenes from the Ramayana or even daily life. People are invited to the houses to view the dolls. The celebrations include singing and dancing.
GoluBombe
Golu, Bombe habba
  • Kannadigas – In Karnataka, Dasara or Vijayadashami is celebrated to commemorate the defeat of Ravana and Durga’s triumph over the demon ‘Mahishasur’. “We also have the practice of doll arrangement, called ‘Bombe habba’. We pay obeisance to goddess Saraswati and do ‘Ayudha Puja’ where we worship machines and other things that make our lives easier,” says Kavya, a resident on KR Puram.
  • Telugus – The community celebrates the Gombe Habba, the practice of setting up doll displays and distributes sweets to visitors. ‘Ayudha Puja’ and worship of the goddess Chamundeshwari on Dashami is also a part of their celebrations.
  • Bengalis – The Bengalis celebrate the festival for five days. On the sixth day, they conduct a ‘visarjan,’ the immersing of goddess Durga in water. The five days are celebrated with multiple pujas in the morning, followed by a community ‘bhog’ (lunch). Cultural programs are organised in the evenings.
  • Assamese – The Assamese people celebrate the festival of Durga Puja as a community. They set up statues of goddess Durga in large grounds, which also have food and gift stalls. Shivankar, a member of the Assam Association says, “On the last four days of the festival, we feast on homemade preparations. The maize crop that we grow is offered to the goddess.”
Advertisements

Love for Indian-Pakistani couple means moving across borders – to UAE

The Indian and Pakistani cricket rivalry has been on display at the Asia Cup 2018 in the United Arab Emirates. While the focus is on cricket, it is also highlighting another aspect of UAE as a home to many cross-border couples from India and Pakistan.

Couples who find love across the bitterly divided border in the subcontinent find it easier to live in UAE than in India or Pakistan. Pakistanis have trouble getting visas for India, and vice versa; and it gets harder every time there is a spurt in violence and upheaval across the border.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence; and relations soured further after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

High-profile couples like the Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik and Indian tennis star  Sania Mirza have a home in Dubai. An Agence France-Presse (APF) interview also featured couples like Kasim Vakkil, an Indian and his Pakistani wife Ghazala who are part of the UAE’s large South Asian community.  “My marriage would not have been possible if we were not living in UAE. Ghazala is from Lahore and I am from Mumbai but living at this neutral venue made our marriage possible.” Kasim told AFP.

Image result for indian pakistan couple uae sania

Dubai taxi driver Sunil Manohar, from India’s Karnataka state, married Nunda from Pakistan’s Sindh province after their families met in the UAE. “UAE is a nice place for cross-border families,” he said. “In the past, a few couples were stuck in Pakistan because they were not getting an Indian visa.”

An interesting video article in Khaleej Times also features the lives of such couple:

Many tech savvy couple also converge in popular facebook groups like IndoPakFamiles 

 

Indian man arrested for impersonating U.S Immigration official on social media

This week, Kanwar Sarabjit Singh a 51 year old lawful permanent resident (LPR)  in the United States pleaded guilty for using Facebook and WhatsApp to falsely represent himself as an employee of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Mr Singh claimed he worked in the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service (USCIS). He offered to obtain ‘genuine US visas’ in exchange for a fee of $3,000 to $4,000, US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and impersonation of a federal officer and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on December 14.

Image result for immigration fraud

As part of his scheme, Mr Singh created a fake photo identification document pretending to be from the DHS, which he mailed to others in an effort to show that he was capable to obtain US immigration documents.

Mr Singh gained the trust of a local pastor and his church, including elderly members, and falsely represented to them that he owned a small company in India that provided labour for services, including data entry, to two large, international companies and that for a small, up-front investment, they would see a large return on their money.

More details in the press release from U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

A citizen of India pleaded guilty today to operating a fraud scheme in which he used Facebook and WhatsApp to scam people seeking to purchase United States visas.

According to court documents, Kanwar Sarabjit Singh (aka Sandy Singh), 51, a lawful permanent resident, used Facebook and WhatsApp to falsely represent himself as an employee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who worked in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and who could obtain genuine United States visas in exchange for a fee of $3,000 to $4,000. As part of his scheme, Singh created a fake photo identification document purporting to be from DHS, which he emailed to others in an effort to show that he was, in fact, able to obtain United States immigration documents. Singh instructed individuals seeking immigration documents to email him passport photographs, copies of their passports and other personally identifying information and to send him money via overnight delivery service or by wire transfer. After receiving these documents and the requested fee up front, Singh created and emailed fake letters purporting to be from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, which falsely represented that there was an appointment to pick up the requested visa documents. Many of Singh’s victims resided overseas and were impoverished.

In addition to this visa fraud scheme, Singh also admitted to engaging in an investment fraud scheme in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in 2012, in which he defrauded approximately 22 investors of approximately $340,000. Singh gained the trust of a local pastor and his church, including elderly members, and falsely represented to them that he owned a small company in India that provided labor for services, including data entry, to two large, international companies and that for a small, up-front investment, they would see a large return on their money.

80% NRI medical seats vacant even after mop-up counselling 

After two rounds of regular counselling and the final mop-up counselling for MBBS seats in deemed universities, nearly 80% of the seats under NRI category are lying vacant, although almost all seats in the management category have been taken. The universities will now be allowed to admit students to these vacant seats after August 27.
Of the 919 NRI quota seats – 15% of the total seats – 731 seats across India were vacant as on Tuesday, according to the New-Delhi based Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). Although 176 students were allotted seats under NRI category in round 1, many did not join. In round 2, a total of 95 students were allotted seats and 58 others were allotted during the mop-up. If any of the 153 students, who were allotted seats in the second round and mop up counselling, did not join the respective colleges, they will have to forfeit Rs 2 lakh deposited at the time of registration with DGHS.
In Tamil Nadu, out of the eight deemed universities, all seats in management quota were allotted at the end of the mop-up round, but barring Sri Ramachandra Medical Universities all colleges had at least 15 seats in the NRI category. Sree Balaji Medical College topped the list with 36 vacant seats and Vinayaka Mission in Salem had the least with 15 seats. “Colleges will now convert these seats to management seats and allot them to students based on their own merit list. There is no guarantee that allotment will be based purely on merit,” said R Seetharaman, a parent, whose son is waiting for MBBS admission this year.
Experts say DGHS, which made it mandatory for students to deposit Rs 2 lakh upfront and made it clear that they would forfeit the sum if they do not join the allotted college, should mandate that unfilled NRI seats would be treated as management/NRI category seats during mop up round. “The universities should not be allowed to convert NRI seats to management after mop-up round. Had the DGHS itself converted it ahead of the mop-up round, all these unfilled NRI seats would have been available for eligible candidates, including NRI candidates. At least next year, this anomaly should be addressed,” said Manickavel Arumugum, a freelance consultant of medical aspirants.
Fees for NRI quota seats is higher than the regular management quota seats. In some institutions, it touches $60,000. College administrators say they will be left with no option but to convert these NRI seats as general quota seats. “We have just two working days to fill up the seats. We have a list of applicants who have cleared NEET but have not got admission in any college. Based on an internal rank list, we will allot seats,” said a senior administrator at ACS Medical College, where 21 NRI seats are vacant.

Indian origin employee of a Bank loses job after disrespecting Singapore flag

There is an old adage that goes – in Rome, do as Romans do. This extends to immigrants, for whom respecting the culture and National identities of host nations is expected. Of course, this is just common sense too since immigrating to a foreign land is a privileged one shouldn’t take lightly.

Most immigrants, however, struggle to come to grips with dual identities – one of their country of birth where they may have spent their formative years, and the other that of their adopted homelands. Case in point is the story of Avijit Das Patnaik, an Indian who migrated to Singapore a decade ago.

SingaporeFlag

On 14 August 2008, Mr. Patnaik posted a picture on the Facebook page of the Singapore Indians & Expats group with about 11,000 members. That graphic apparently showed a Singaporean flag on a T-shirt being ripped to reveal an Indian flag underneath. Along with the image, Mr. Patnaik posted a caption reading ‘Phir Bhi dil hai hindustani’ (Still my heart heart is Indian), picking the phrase from a popular Bollywood song.

The message was self-explanatory; Mr. Patnaik, like many first-generation immigrants still identified himself as an Indian. However, the post did not go well with fellow Singaporeans and other digirati who found it “offensive” and “insulting to Singapore”. The post was quickly taken down and Mr. Patnaik’s employer, the Singapore-headquartered DBS Bank got involved.

The Bank released a statement on its Facebook page saying that Patnaik was no longer its employee.

“Since the incident, a disciplinary committee has been convened and as of 24 August, he is no longer with the bank.

DBS strongly disapproves of such actions by our employees. At the same time, it is fair and right that all employees are given the benefit of due process.”

facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdbs.sg%2Fposts%2F1866871686760405&width=500

This is not the end of Patnaik’s troubles. According media accounts, police have filed a report and investigations are underway. According to the Singapore Arms and Flag National Anthem Act, any person that treats the flag with disrespect may be fined a maximum of 1,000 Singapore dollar.

There are obvious lessons for immigrants here: in Rome, do as Romans do… and when in Rome, don’t offend Roman sentiments.


Other news source: Netizens call on Govt to revoke Indian national’s PR for defacing Singapore flag, even after he loses DBS job – The Independent

The Dos and Don’ts of NRI Investing In Indian Realty

Amongst the NRI’s there are 3 types of investors. The first type look for short term gains over a period of 1-3 years, the second type look to buy for themselves and the third type are long term investors who want to be in the market for 7-10 years.

The first type of investors have disappeared and more number of people looking to buy for personal use have surfaced.

Samir Jasuja, the founder and CEO of PropEquity added that the market has stabilized in the last 6 months and the worst times are behind us. Over the last 3 years with the advent of demonetization, GST and RERA, the new launches have come down by almost 90%. The best cities to buy into are governed by 3 major factors, which are employment generation, infrastructure and the overall supply demand situations prevailing in the market. Banglore and Mumbai are two of the most hot sites of Real Estate because of the presence of all the 3 aforementioned factors.

“The NRI fraternity is used to 10-14% returns on investment from the residential segment in India” said Virendra Adhikari, the CEO of Asset India Ltd., on being asked about the do’s and dont’s of NRI investment. However, these figures have been bearish due to the current market scenario.

Amongst the NRI’s there are 3 types of investors. The first type look for short term gains over a period of 1-3 years, the second type look to buy for themselves and the third type are long term investors who want to be in the market for 7-10 years. The first type of investors have disappeared and more number of people looking to buy for personal use have surfaced.

More online in the article (link)

NRIs not eligible to file RTI: Centre’s reply to Lok Sabha triggers protests

Union Minister Jitendra Singh told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that Non-Resident Indians are not eligible to file Right to Information (RTI) applications. The Minister said, responding to a question asked by a Member of Parliament (MP) Jugal Kishore Sharma.

“Only citizens of India have the right to seek information under the provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005. Non-Resident Indians are not eligible to file RTI applications. He said subject to the provisions of the Act, the citizens of India could file an online application under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

“Currently, systems of 2,200 public authorities have been aligned to receive, process and reply to online RTIs from the applicants”

Speaking to TNM Sunil Kumar KK, an NRI living in Oman, said that it reveals that the government doesn’t see them as Indian citizens.

“This is a shame. Why can’t we enjoy the facilities that Indians living in India do? We ask only those questions which can be asked according to the Act. So, why should they deny us the online facility?” Sunil asked.

“Additionally, isn’t it impractical to visit the embassy if we are located in a remote area in a foreign land? Many other countries are organising a voting facility for their non-resident citizens. We don’t have that either. And now, they have said no to this (RTI) too,” Sunil added.

Shameer PTK, another resident of Oman, said that he is surprised to hear that the government has denied them the right in the time of Digital India.

“On one side, the government is upholding the theme of Digital India and on the other side, we are being denied the online facility to seek information from government through RTI Act,” Shameer said, adding that it amounts to discrimination.

“Even for Pravasi Bharatiya Divas participation, the government provides online registration only. But to seek information through RTI Act online, they are saying no. It’s like the Orange Passport issue,” he said.

The government had earlier planned orange-coloured passports for Emigration Clearance Required Category Indians for when they travel abroad for a job. However, it was scrapped after protests.

“It looks like the moment you leave India for a job, you are stripped of rights and are seen as an alien. In foreign lands too, you don’t get the basic rights that the locals enjoy and then your own home country denies them,” said Jacob Koshy, an Indian resident in Qatar.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday took to Twitter to state that denying NRIs the right to file RTIs is wrong.