I want to explain arranged marriage to white people

A recent article in BBC.com features Pakistani designer Nashra Balagamwala and her views on arranged marriage.

When Pakistani designer Nashra Balagamwala produced a board game about arranged marriage, most news reports about her wrongly assumed she was dead against it. Actually her position is far more nuanced. And one goal is to explain to people in the UK and elsewhere how it works.

Balagamwala’s kickstarter campaign generated a lot of buzz and raised thousands of dollars more than what she was seeking.

Balagamwala was at the Rhode Island School of Design in the US when she came up with the idea.

“I was about to head home to Pakistan at the end of the year, and I had some proposals waiting for me, so I started stalking the Facebook accounts of those guys to find something about them that my parents wouldn’t approve of, so I could get out of meeting them. And then I thought to myself, ‘Why not get rid of the problem once and for all?’ So I created a list of every ridiculous thing I’ve done to get out of an arranged marriage and turned it into this light-hearted board game.”

 

She tested her game out on her friends, a mixture of South Asians and white Americans.
An American male friend was in fits of laughter while playing. He admitted to Balagamwala that he’d been worried the game would trivialise the subject, but said that he now had a better understanding of it.

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Link to an article in scroll.in

Will 2018 be the year when NRIs begin investing in Indian property?

An article in Business line highlights how “With RERA kicking in, NRI interest in Indian realty set to rise”

With the introduction of RERA has turned out to be a real market force, and the transparency it enforces will draw residential real estate back to centre-stage

Implementation of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 will boost the Non-Resident Indian sentiments on Indian real estate sector, say market experts.

With more transparency coming in the realty sector, there is bound to be an increase in the number of NRIs planning to buy property back home, they said..

The Indian real estate sector, in recent times, has witnessed a lot of changes, more so after the introduction of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“As RERA will ensure timely delivery of projects and also since all the information will be available online, it will boost the confidence of NRIs who are thinking of investing in the Indian real estate market. But, the GST might have a negative impact on the buyers as there might be increase in the price of the properties,” said Parveen Jain, Vice-Chairman, NAREDCO (National Real Estate Development Council).

Right now, prospective home-buyers have to pay a 12 per cent GST to developers if they are planning to buy a property which is under construction. However, there is no GST on the fully constructed property.

Also check out our recent articles on investing in India:

US census bureau will tell you how many Tamil, Punjabi, Telugu, and Bengali are in America

The US census is finally counting how many people speak Tamil, Punjabi, Telugu, and Bengali.

Marketers, analysts and consultants continually watch for demographics trends on the Non-Resident Indian community in the US and North America. These trends serve many purposes and also enable focused marketing to an ethnic community.

EthnicIndianAmericans

Wouldn’t Amazon want to know if you are of Tamil origin and begin marketing Pongal related items a month before January? Likewise marketing in advance of Holi and Lohri if you happen to be a Punjabi. Details of ethnic subgroup, especially of those from a South Asian background are valuable to marketers.  e-Commerce giants like Amazon, Google, Apple aspire to know detailed demographics of their target consumers and use sophisticated algorithms, cookies and tracking to build databases.

Desi Associations across the US and small businesses and Indian markets also actively court members of ethnic communities. In regions with a larger population of a particular community, one can see multiple associations focused on sub-groups. Likewise one might see multiple Indian restaurants catering to Punjabi, Andhra, Canara, Chettinad and other specialized cuisines in a region with higher population of such communities.

The recent move by US census bureau to track “Language Spoken at Home and English-Speaking Ability” of ethnic communities is an interesting development being watched by marketers. A recent announcement indicates that New data for five languages are available on American Fact Finder Table B16001: Haitian, Punjabi, Bengali, Telugu and Tamil.

  • Of the 280,867 people ages 5 and older who spoke Punjabi at home, 48.0 percent lived in California.
  • Of the 259,204 people ages 5 and older who spoke Bengali at home, 38.6 percent lived in New York.
  • The 321,695 people ages 5 and older who spoke Telugu at home and the 238,699 people speaking Tamil at home were more evenly distributed across many parts of the nation. For both languages, the highest concentration of speakers lived in California, followed by Texas and New Jersey (the number of persons who spoke Tamil in Texas and New Jersey are not statistically different).

In the past years, GaramChai.com has been publishing summary of ethnic data from different sources “Indians, Indo-American and NRIs in the US – Fatcts and Figures” and summary of inputs from a review of Census data.

The US census is finally counting how many people speak Tamil, Punjabi, Telugu, and Bengali

Indians flock to Canadian Business Schools and not to the US

Indian and foreign students aspiring to study in the US do so with a clear goal – to eventually land a job in Corporate America. Graduates who complete an advanced degree need to seek out an employer that will sponsor their H1B work visa. However, recent trends indicate that such sponsorship are harder to come by.

VisaH1B

President Trump has promised tightening of H1-B work visas, a topic we have reviewed a few times in recent times.

Now comes news that an increasing number of Indians are flocking to Canadian Business Schools in Canada and not the US.

Canada, which has been courting international students aggressively for about a decade now, seems to be gaining from Trump administration’s protectionist rhetoric in the US.  Canada has been able to attract 20-30% more MBA students from India this year in Business Schools alone.

At the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, 56 of the 350 MBA students in the class of 2019 are Indian. At Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal, applications from India rose by about 30% in fall 2017 while 51% of the applications to the full-time MBA offered at the Alberta School of Business in Edmonton came from India. The University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business told Economic Times that 60-70% of its international MBA students are Indian.

Wonder if this is a one-off or a long term trend?

NRI finance roundup for November 2017

Last week we saw an announcement regarding “PPF accounts to be closed, interest  lowered to 4 per cent if you become an NRI”.  This has obvious implications for NRIs who were planning to continue holding their Indian investments in PPF and other funds.

Photo: iStock

An article in TOI this week focuses on “How NRIs can get past their tax worries”

  • TDS can be a pain – Tax deduction at source (TDS) is a major pain point for NRIs. Resident investors in stocks and mutual funds are not subjected to TDS, but NRIs are. Short-term capital gains from stocks are subject to 15% TDS, while those from debt funds and debentures, gold and property are slapped a higher rate of 30%. Even longterm gains from property and gold are subject to 20% TDS. The TDS on the interest on bank deposits is only 10% for resident Indians, but NRIs have to cough up 30%.
  • How to avoid TDS – One way NRIs can avoid the high TDS is by being the second holder in joint investments. For all investments, the tax liability is always that of the first holder’s. If the first holder is a resident Indian, the gain will not be subjected to any TDS. Similarly, if the NRI is the second holder in a property, the TDS will not apply unless the rent is above Rs 50,000 a month.
  • Claim tax benefits – Though NRIs are beaten by the TDS stick, they also get some carrots. The interest earned on NRE account is tax free and continues to be exempt for two years after the individual returns to India. It’s best to retain deposits held in foreign currency in the NRE account to earn tax-free interest for two more years. After two years, when the tax status changes, these deposits can be moved to the regular savings account.

Economic Times also reviews “How NRIs can avoid tax troubles”

A livemint article – While filing tax in India, NRIs do not have to state overseas income – examines a few Frequently asked questions:

  • I am moving to Cambodia for a long-term assignment. I am told that India does not have a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with that country. Please let me know how that will impact my tax outgo. I have interest income in India and will continue to file tax return on that. Will I have to include my income in Cambodia in the India tax return as well, and pay tax on it again in India?
  • I am an NRI and I had purchased some land in a rural area of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, in October 2014. I am now planning to sell it to buy a new plot in an urban part of the city. We had bought this property for Rs15 lakh and will be selling it for Rs35 lakh. Please tell me my tax liability on this, considering that I am an NRI.
  • I am an NRI, and I want to buy a car in India, without taking any loan. I will be using funds from my non-resident external (NRE) account. Can you explain the tax implication if the car is in my name or somebody else?

 

You may also be interested in GaramChai.com section on Finance 

PPF accounts to be closed, interest lowered to 4 per cent if you become an NRI

Non Resident Indians are continually looking for investment opportunities in India. A few weeks ago, we blogged about “NRIs for real estate investment in India – Know the simple Rules” The Government of Indian recently announced new rules under which select small savings schemes like Public Provident Fund (PPF) and National Saving Certificates (NSC) will not earn you the same rate if you become non-resident Indians (NRI).

A summary of changes to rules and what it means to NRIs:

  • NRIs will no longer be permitted invest in small savings schemes like NSC and PPF. In the past they were allowed to retain their PPF account if they had opened it before becoming an NRI.
  • PPF and NSC currently fetch an interest rate higher than bank savings rates. Some of it is subsidized by the Government of India. (Current rate of PPF is 7.8 per cent while Post Office savings account get 4 %)
  • PPF accounts would be deemed to be closed prior to maturity in case the holder becomes a non-resident Indian (NRI). The investor will be then paid interest at the rate applicable to Post Office savings accounts till the date the PPF account is closed.

The Indian government notification on PPF dated October 3 states,

“Provided that if a resident who opened an account under this scheme, subsequently becomes a non-resident during the currency of the maturity period, the account shall be deemed to be closed with effect from the day he becomes a non-resident and interest with effect from that date shall be paid at the rate applicable to the Post Office Saving Account up to the last day of the month preceding the month in which the account is actually closed.”

The finance ministry notification adds:

“Provided that if a resident Indian having purchased a certificate, subsequently becomes Non-Resident during the currency of the maturity period, the certificate shall be encashed or deemed to be encashed on the day he becomes a non-Resident, and interest shall be paid at the rate applicable to the Post Office Savings Account, from time to time, from such day and up to the last day of the month preceding the month in which it is actually encashed.”

Other media accounts

The top Indian cities for NRIs to invest

Investing in Real Estate in India is a topic of perennial interest to NRIs. We frequently review NRI investment opportunities and ideas on this blog. A few recent blogs include:

Continuing the series, here is an extract from a recent article in The Hindu

Image: The Hindu

Indian real estate has always drawn the attention of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) simply because it is their country of origin.Indian real estate has always drawn the attention of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) simply because it is their country of origin.

Investing in realty, however, can be a little trickier when the buyer isn’t physically present. Although a lot of recent technological advancement such as virtual and augmented reality has made property buying simpler for NRIs, choosing the right city and location for the investment still requires considerable research before committing.
If you are an NRI looking for options to invest in Indian real estate, here are a few cities you could consider.

Mumbai – This bustling city continues to grow exponentially and due to this sole reason growth in peripheral areas is expected to be significant.

Hyderabad – Hyderabad is fast becoming the major IT hub in the country.

Bangalore – Bangalore continues to be a draw for IT/ITES employees with its pleasant weather and steady real estate market. Social infrastructure in the city is growing, and connectivity will reach greater levels with the completion of the next phase of the Metro system.

Chennai – Chennai realty is considered a safe investment simply because of the fact that there’s continuing demand for homes driven by the impressive industrial mix including technology, automobile, healthcare and manufacturing sectors. Areas in the southern part of the city are touted to be fast growing.


 

You may also be interested in the GaramChai.com section on Realtors 

Can a US citizen apply for an Aadhaar card?

This is a question that frequently appears in online forums. Here is the response from our editor, Mohan:

Firstly, check out the detailed official FAQ on Adhaar (link). A couple of relevant questions

Image result for adhaar faq

Can NRIs also get Aadhaar?

As per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only a resident who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.

What is the process if NRI / OCI holder needs to apply for Aadhaar? And if they don’t have their own residential address in India now?

As per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only a resident who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.

Keep in mind, Adhaar is not a proof of citizenship. Therefore, people (including US citizen, OCI) legally residing in India are eligible to apply for an Aadhaar card.


Also, check out an earlier blog post on the topic: Income Tax and Adhaar updates for Non Resident Indians (NRIs)

Titan Watches goes global via Amazon.com

As per some estimates, about $1 out of every $2 spent online in the US goes to Amazon.  Therefore, it was just a matter of time before Indian fashion brands began leveraging leveraging the digital marketing reach of Amazon.com to reach out to global audiences.

Indian jewellery and watch giant, Titan [Tata group company] has signed up with Amazon to sell in the US through its Global Selling Program. The deal will enable Titan to take its two popular watch brands — Titan and Fastrack — to global customers on Amazon.com in the US and eventually across other Amazon marketplaces.

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Gopal Pillai of Amazon India with S Ravikant, CEO of Titan Company.

 

“This is the first time we are taking the online route to enter a new market,” said S Ravikant, CEO – Watches and Accessories, Titan Company.

“The normal practice is to first identify local partners in a new market, set up stores, etc. This partnership is not just about Amazon taking Titan to the US market, it is about taking India to the US. The US watch market is estimated at $11-12 billion, to which e-commerce contributes 12-15 per cent.”

“We will offer Titan an end-to-end solution and help the brand cater to the growing appetite for quality Indian products amongst global consumers,” said Gopal Pillai, Director and GM, Seller Services, Amazon India. “Since its inception in 2015, our Global Selling Programme has grown multi-fold and has been constantly taking Made-in-India products global. We are delighted that the programme is enabling emerging companies as well as iconic Indian brands such as Titan to leverage the opportunity to access a large base of Amazon customers.”

The tie-up also enables Titan to market its range of watches, especially popular brands like ‘Edge’ and ‘Ragaa’ to customers across ethnicities on the Amazon platform in the US and its other marketplaces.

The watch market in the US is estimated to be $11-12 billion per annum. As part of its global strategy to market brands on its seamless e-commerce platform, Amazon will showcase Titan watches and subsequently its accessories as ‘Made in India’ products in the US and other markets.


More about Titan India (link) –  –Titan Industries is the world’s fifth largest watch manufacturer and India‘s leading producer of watches under the Titan, Raga, Orion, Nebula, Octane etc.

Amazon Global Selling – makes selling internationally simpler and easier. Learn more below about why you should sell internationally and get started today by registering in one of our marketplaces.

NRIs : Is real estate in India not a good investment right now ?

NRIs continue to look for changes in policies with regards investing in Indian real estate (‘Flexible policies are the need of the hour’). Continuing from a recent post on “NRIs for real estate investment in India – Know the simple Rules”  here is an interesting article with infographic from Economic Times

Investments in property have earned insipid returns in the past few years. Find out why this trend is likely to continue for some time.

If you go by what real estate developers, housing finance companies and property agents say, this is the best time to invest in property. Or is it?

A recent research report by consultancy firm Knight Frank shows that home prices in eight major cities rose very tardily in the past three years.

In some markets, including the National Capital Region (NCR) and Kolkata, property prices have actually come down since 2014. Of course, this is not true for the entire real estate market. While prices have come down in some markets, some cities have witnessed a consistent rise. Within cities too, some pockets have done poorly, while others have flourished.

This is why ET Wealth assumed four different growth rates to see what investors can gain from real estate. We assumed that the buyer would put a downpayment of Rs 10 lakh and take a home loan of Rs 50 lakh (at 8.5%) to buy a property. Another Rs 6 lakh would be spent on legal costs and registration, taking the total cost of property to Rs 66 lakh.

How much will you earn from real estate Returns from property will depend on the expected rise in prices and could vary significantly across locations and cities. Here’s how much buyers would earn if property prices are assumed to rise at four different growth rates.

ET_Real_estate
A picture, worth a thousand words!

Assumptions: Buyer in 30% tax bracket. He earns monthly rent of Rs 10,000, which will rise by Rs 1,000 every year. Buyer also claims Rs 2 lakh deduction for home loan interest. IRR formula used for calculating returns. Home loan EMI is Rs 43,391 for 20 years at 8.5%

We then looked at the situation after three years. If the property prices rose by 3%, the investor would be in Rs 7.86 lakh in the red. Even though he earns rent (Rs 10,000 a month increasing by Rs 1,000 every year) and claims tax deduction (Rs 2 lakh) on the home loan, he pays 8.5% on the loan while the asset grows at 3%.

What would the investor have earned had he chosen to buy gold? Instead of the downpayment and legal costs incurred on buying the property, had he put Rs 16 lakh in gold and bought Rs 43,391 worth of the metal every month (the home loan EMI), his investment would be worth Rs 33.8 lakh in three years, assuming gold prices rose 3% every year.

Our calculation assumes that the buyer starts earning rent and saving tax from day one. If there is a delay in getting possession (not rare in the current situation), the returns would be lower. If property prices rise 6%, the investment would nearly break even in three years. But it would still be far less than Rs 36.2 lakh accumulated by investing Rs 16 lakh lump sum and a monthly investment of Rs 43,391 in a fixed income option that earns 6%.

Similarly, if property prices rose 9-12%, the investor would make money but still have less than what he could have earned from hybrid funds or equity schemes. As things stand, property prices are not likely to move up too much in the next couple of years.

The Knight Frank study does not paint a very rosy picture. The huge number of unsold units (more than 1.8 lakh in the NCR) and the long time taken to sell a property (up to 35 quarters in Faridabad) are worrying signs that point to a dull future. “Property is not likely to move up significantly in the next 2-3 years,” says Gulam Zia, Executive Director, Advisory, Retail & Hospitality, Knight Frank .

Source: Economic Times and India Real Estate study by Knight Frank.


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