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.

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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 

 

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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.

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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.

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.

 

OCIs are to be treated as NRIs for MBBS course: Government of India

Deccan Herald reports today that “OCIs are to be treated as NRIs for MBBS course”

The following news comes at a time when thousands of students are awaiting their counselling for admission to medical exams based on their NEET exam results (link)

The rest of the article from DH follows

The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) are a special class of foreigners and they have to be treated as NRIs only for the purpose of their admission to MBBS course.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer, however, said it is still a debatable issue as there is a difference between the NRIs and the OCIs.

A counsel, appearing for the Union government, submitted before the court that he had received instructions to state that the OCIs are entitled to be considered as NRIs only.

The top court was hearing a plea by a group of OCIs, led by Trupti V Reddy, Shreya Joshi and others, challenging the Karnataka regulations, debarring them from competing for 85% state quota seats for admission to MBBS and other professional courses in colleges of Karnataka by appearing in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).

A counsel, appearing for the Union government, submitted before the court that he had received instructions to state that the OCIs are entitled to be considered as NRIs only. File photo
Image from Deccan Herald

The court gave further one week time to the Centre to file its affidavit on the issue and put the matter for further consideration on July 17. 

It, however, declined a plea for passing any interim order in view of the fact the counselling for admission is to begin shortly. “We will not disturb counselling,” the bench said.

The medical education regulator MCI had earlier endorsed the provisions of the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulations of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006, as amended in 2017, whereby the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and OCIs have been treated within the category of NRIs.

With the amendment in the Citizenship Act, 1955, the OCIs claimed they have legal rights to secure admission like other citizens of the country.

The news is significant for thousands of OCIs who returned back with their parents and live in India. In addition it is also significant for OCIs living abroad who aspire to study medicine in India.

Update on PPF account for NRIs – You can continue with PPF account now

The Indian government recently announced that Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts had to be closed when a person became a Non Resident Indian (NRI). 

A few months ago in October, the government announced that if a resident, who opened an account under this scheme, and 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.

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On February 23, 2018, the government’s Department of Economic Affairs (DEA)  released an office memo  keeping its earlier notification in abeyance (or temporarily dismissed). The earlier notification was regarding the NRI’s PPF account released on October 2, 2017. According to the recent memo

Subject: Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts held by Non Resident-regarding.

The undersigned is directed to refer to this Department’s notification GSR No.
1237(E) dated 03.10.2017 regarding amendment in PPF Scheme, 1968. As per the said
notification, 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.

2. It has now been decided to keep the said notification in abeyance till the further
order in this regard.

Trudeau in India: Are traditional Indian attires ‘too Indian’ for modern Indians ?

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and family, during a recent visit  to India made headlines with their flashy ‘Indian attire’ that got media and digirati debating.

One was the picture of Trudeau family in Sherwani and Sarees with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan

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And then the Trudeaus were spotted at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in a spiffy Punjabi attire

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And the visit to Sabarmati in somber Reds

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with his wife, Sophie, prays at the Sabarmati Mahatma Gandhi Ashram in Ahmadabad, India, on Monday, Feb 19, 2018. ─ AP

And at Akshardham like a newly wed Gujju couple

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O Canada: Perhaps the only exception to the desi-photo-op,  was the Trudeau family visit to Taj Mahal where they managed to look ‘naturally Canadian’ 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, their daughter Ella Grace and sons Hadrien and Xavier pose in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra

Why is this making headlines?

All this left many Indians wondering if the Trudeau family in ‘traditional Indian attires’ were trying to be a bit too Indian. 

In case you are wondering: Contemporary Indians, especially in urban cities are more comfortable in t-shirts and jeans.

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Perhaps the only time one sees young men awkwardly milling about in Sherwanis or silk Kurtas are at weddings and melas. Same goes for the globalized bharitya nari, who is more comfortable in pants and jeans and not Sarees and Bindis.

 

images collated from published sources in the media:

#PNBScam – No, Nirav #Modi is NOT related to Indian PM, Narendra Modi

As the details of the multi-billion $ scandal at the Indian Nationalized bank, Punjab National Bank (#PNBScam) unfolds, the world is watching with interest and wondering about the implications. Many around the world are bound to see the headlines describing the involvement of diamond merchant Nirav Modi and will perhaps be wondering about his relation to the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi.

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Nirav Modi, Image credit: India Today
At this time, there are no indications that the two Modis – Nirav and Narendra – are in any way related though they share a common last name.

Wikipedia explains “Modi is a surname in India. The surname is most commonly found amongst people from the Northern and Western states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is mostly associated with Baniyas, grain merchants and grocers.”

At this time, details of the mega-fraud are still emerging and journalists are trying to piece together the facts (e.g Five things you need to know about Nirav Modi and PNB fraud). According to media reports,

Indian-born diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi is the founder of the $2.3 billion Firestar Diamond and was ranked #57 in the Forbes list of India’s billionaires in 2017.

Modi grew up in Belgium, dropped out of Wharton and moved to India where he got trained in the diamond trade under his uncle, according to Forbes.

He went on to launch his own Nirav Modi brand with 16 stores in locations such as Delhi, Mumbai, New York, Hong Kong, London and Macau.

 

 

A few recent articles on the scandal