Independence Day: India celebrates 71st Independence Day

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from Red Fort in Delhi

 

Interesting tweets

And Goole’s special doodle

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Can NRIs use proxy voting for elections in India? Yes !

According to the proposal, NRIs, like members of Indian armed forces, would also be allowed to use the option of proxy voting.

Non Resident Indians (NRIs), by definition are people of Indian origin who hold an Indian passport but ordinarily live in a foreign country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been courting this group of Indians assiduously, anchoring the annual festival – Parivarsi Bharitiya Divas and other outreach events.  The NRI and Indian diaspora is courted by Indian political and business leaders for the large foreign exchange remittances and the other global resources at their disposal. Now, the government wants them to exercise their franchise too!

Vote

Some NRIs who aren’t eligible to participate in the political processes in their host countries try to keep abreast of happenings back in India. They feel that the ability to vote in Indian elections will keep them engaged and enfranchised.

The Government of India has a provision for absentee and proxy voting by members of Armed forces and their families. The Election Comission also allows armed forces personnel to vote at their place of posting, as an interim measure, would be limited to “peace stations” and not include those posted at forward and disturbed areas. (Frequently Asked Questions by Service Voters)

The Indian law does not prevent eligible NRIs from voting in person. The main constraint is the time and cost: currently, an NRI who wishes to vote in state or central elections must travel back to his home constituency to cast a vote in person. He may also be required to show a voter’s ID or other documents as required by local polling officials. Data indicates that only 10-12,000 NRIs voted in the past election since most others didn’t want to spend a lot of money to travel to India to exercise their franchise.

Things are likely to change after the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to extend proxy voting to overseas Indians by amending electoral laws. The cabinet approved the proposal on August 2, 2017 but the law, “Representation of the People Act” still needs to be amended to include proxy voting as other means to cast their votes. According to the proposal, NRIs, like members of Indian armed forces, would also be allowed to use the option of proxy voting.

Articles on the topic

  • Indian expatriates welcome proxy voting move – Gulf News
  • Only 24,000 overseas Indians have registered as voters – Times of India
  • EC moots proxy voting for NRIs – The Hindu  
  • NRIs In US Welcome Cabinet Decision To Extend Proxy Voting – NDTV

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.

Patanjali ‘s advert: appeal to all Patriotic Indians on the eve of 71st Independence Day

Baba Ramdev’s business genius in launching and driving swadesi, ‘Made in India’ products is still being analyzed by business leaders and students of business alike. The Yogi turned business magnate has skillfully introduced and nurtured a series of products that take on well entrenched players in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) space including Unilever, Nestle, Britannia and even Dabur among others.

Behind a folksy, homegrown veneer, Ramdev and his trusted lieutenant Acharya Balkrishna, (managing director of the company) operate a rather strong and serious business.

“According to CLSA and HSBC, Patanjali is the fastest growing FMCG company in India. It is valued at ₹30 billion (US$470 million) and some predict revenues of ₹5,000 crore (US$780 million) for the fiscal 2015–16. Patanjali declared its annual turnover of the year 2016-17 to be estimated ₹10,216 crore (US$1.6 billion). Ramdev baba has stated in his interview with CNN-News18 that profit from Patanjali Products goes to charity.” – Wikipedia

Continuing with a tradition of pandering to emerging desi nationalist sentiment, the company has launched a campaign with “appeals on 71st Independence Day to all Patriotic Indians (facebook)”

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Patanjali products also seem to be a hit with Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and the Indian Diaspora.

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Promoting desi products and Yoga: Baba Ramdev frequently tours the west to promote made-in-India products

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Check out recent headlines on the Patanjali Story.   And also an earlier blog “Indian Style Innovation? Generate electricity using bulls”

Immigration Fraud: Indian to lose US citizenship after being convicted

Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.

US citizenship is a privilege that many legal immigrants aspire to. It takes a lot of persistence and effort to be granted this right by the US government. Of-course the benefits of  a US citizenship are many and well documented (link USCIS). Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.

A person of Indian origin, Balbir Singh was recently convicted by US government for using fake identity to get US citizenship. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a maximum USD 250,000 possible fine, revocation of his citizenship and enforcement of his outstanding deportation order.

Here is the sequence of events as appearing in the media.

  • A few years ago, Mr. Singh was ordered deported but lied about it to seek citizenship.
  • Acting US Attorney Abe Martinez said Mr. Singh had previously attempted to obtain asylum under false pretenses.
  • When that asylum attempt failed, an immigration judge ordered his deportation from the United States, thus making him ineligible to ever become a naturalized US citizen.
  • Instead of leaving the country, Mr Singh changed his name, date of birth, the manner in which he entered the United States and his family history so that he could obtain lawful immigration status.
  • He later applied for Naturalization based on a marriage to a United States citizen. In his Naturalization application, Singh denied ever being ordered deported, seeking asylum or using a different identity.
  • After obtaining the citizenship, a fingerprint comparison established the man previously ordered deported from the United States (Balbir Singh) and the man who later became a naturalized citizen (Ranjit Singh) were one and the same.
  • US District Judge Ewing Werlein is scheduled to set sentencing for October 13.

Turns out, it is not just Indians who are guilty. Even US officials sometimes participate in such fraudulent activities. A recent articles stats: US attorney gets Pakistan aide married to Indian origin man for Green Card, charged with marriage fraud.  “A US attorney, who got an Indian- origin naturalised American citizen ‘married’ to his Pakistani assistant so that she could obtain a Green Card, has been charged with marriage fraud along with his woman aide.”

Bottomline: The penalty for fraud and providing false information in US immigration is hard and those attempting this will get caught.

Also check out USCIS process to report Immigration Scams 

News articles about the topic:

 

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.

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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.


You may also be interested in GaramChai.com Realtor and Return2IndiaSections.

Want to be part of India’s development? Know more about Joy of Giving!

“Although, the Indian Diaspora is a very heterogeneous group, there is a common factor which binds them- their desire to maintain their connection with their homeland and to contribute to the social and development efforts in India. We are seeking to strengthen and deepen our relationship through IDF-OI.” Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs & Chairperson, IDF-OI

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Check out the Government Of India’s India’s development Fund