Yet another Swedesi victory over a multinational : Amazon backtracks on Indian Flag doormat

A couple of days ago?Amazon listed a series of doormats with Indian Flag on its Canadian portal.

Amazon.ca screen snapshop

A Non Resident Indian took offence and began tweeting about it to?Indian Minister for external affairs. Interestingly, this news comes on the heels of the much lauded the Overseas Indian fest, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017 that concluded in Bangalore this week.

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With characterstic speed,?Sushma Swaraj swung to action and tweeted.

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Immediately after Ms?Sushma Swaraj tweeted her “warning,” Amazon took down the offending doormats from its websites. And the?Desi media and bloggers had a field day?patting their backs over yet another “Swedesi victory over a multinational”

But Indians, perhaps rightly want more:

“Amazon Canada might have removed the offensive product ? doormat bearing the Indian tricolour ? from its listings but it must go the whole hog and apologise to India for the infra dig heaped on Indians who wear their National Flag and nationalism on their sleeves.

The manufacturer, XLYL, may be one of the thousands of suppliers using the Amazon Canada portal, but that does not mean the e-commerce giant should be allowed to wash its hands of the stinking mentality of its supplier. Earlier, images of Indian gods were emblazoned on doormats sold by a supplier on the Amazon US portal. One wonders whether the offender then was the same XLYL. Amazon would do well to investigate the antecedents of such India-phobes and rein in them. The fig leaf of a ‘marketplace model’ should not be used as a cover by e-commerce portals to escape responsibility.? said Firstpost

It is not just the flag. Indians have begun a renewed push to get citizen to respect its flag.?NY Times reports -?Indian Cinemas Must Play the National Anthem, Supreme Court Rules

India?s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered movie theaters to play the national anthem before each screening, asserting that doing so would instill ?a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism? in Indians.

In an interim order, the bench said that the anthem must be accompanied by images of the Indian flag, and that all present in the hall must stand while it is played.

 

This recent issue issue brings forth bigger questions:

  • We live in a globalized world but respect for individual cultures and social values are still paramount
  • Multinationals and even digital?content aggregators and marketplaces cannot hide behind their suppliers and vendors. They need to take accountability for governance
  • Sovereign countries offer multinationals a “license to operate.” Such license to operate can be questioned if it conflicts with the values of the host country.
    • In this case, Amazon listed the flag-doormat on its Canadian website.
    • Indian people took offence and used social media to petition the Government?leader took swift and decisive action, threatening Amazon with retaliation

Links to other media articles and blogs:

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017: Musings and Pictorial Observations

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is a major annual event orchestrated by the Indian Government?s Ministry of External Affairs ?to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India.? It is a way for Indian government to show its global diaspora ? that remitted nearly $68 billion to motherland – that it cares.

As an Indian-American with an OCI?who has lived and worked in a dozen countries, I had read about the event held in the years past. This year I happen to be in Bangalore, and had an opportunity to attend the event and to see firsthand the Rock Star status Mr. Narendra Modi commands even among the Indian diaspora.

Getting there to BIEC: Navigating Bangalore Traffic on an Ola using Digital App. Most NRIs would dread driving on Indian roads!

A warm, Desi cultural welcome to the delegates

The Black Cat NSG commandos awaiting the arrival of VVIPs

Settling in with a Selfie before Mr. Modi Speaks!

Prime Minister Modi “Whether knowledge, time or money, we welcome your contributions that strengthen India?s partnership with overseas community” ?Other Modi bytes :

  • “We don’t see the colour of the passport, our relationship is based on blood.”
  • “Earlier there used to be talk of ‘brain drain’. With your help, we want to turn that drain into ‘brain gain’.”
  • “There are over 30 million Indians living abroad. They are respected not just for their strength in numbers, but for the contributions they make to India and the country they live in.”

A?lot of food for thought ?.. and some good food too (catered by #TajBangalore)

A few heads Nodding off at a session after lunch. The NRI/OCI diaspora is diverse and varied. Not surprisingly, their issues too are varied and wide ranging. The techie from Houston can?t relate to the issues of the migrant workers in Saudi Arabia or the Girmityas in Mauritius or Fiji. … but the officials at PBD took pains to show they care!

A fellow OCI asks the Minister a question on an issue close to her heart!

A global event in Bangalore wouldn?t be complete without techies showcasing their digital Apps. Mr. Modi quipped “….And Sorry, did I mention our well known Information Technology Professionals?”


Pictures and narrative by Mohan K


Other links on the event

Desis in U.S Congress! Indian-American Fab Five formally enter US Congress on Tuesday

Hindustan Times featured “Indian-American Fab Five formally enter US Congress on Tuesday“?On Tuesday, members of the 115th U.S. Congress were sworn in, and that five Indian Americans: Senator Kamala Harris, and Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, and Ami Bera. All five are Democrats in a Republican majority Congress.

house.senate.desis

Image credit:?theaerogram.com

Jayapal spoke of the significance of her win in broader terms, as reported by The Hindu:

?This country belongs to all of us. My victory has inspired confidence in many young women and I hope a whole new generation of political people rises among us.?

The Economic Times reported Krishnamoorthi?s comments at the event, remarks which also spoke to those hoping to enter politics:

?For all of those in the audience tonight who are thinking about running for office, there is no better time than now. You have role models, we have play book. It?s time to get started.?

The popular Desi blog?theaerogram.com?has a detailed profile of “each of the Fab Five, and for images from their first moments as new members of Congress.”

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2017

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India?s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

Ministry of External Affairs | Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017 | Redefining Engagement with Overseas Indians

PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003. These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.

During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India?s growth. The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.


Here is an interesting question:

I was born and brought up in India, and like so many of my countrymen, I now find myself enjoying my work and life here in the US. I am on the standard H1B->GreenCard->Citizenship path that many follow.

But I love my country and until recently I could not imagine living permanently elsewhere. I was wondering what it’s like to give up Indian citizenship and accept American citizenship? Was it a hard choice? Did you have regrets?

Response from our editor,?Mohan, Naturalized American, OCI, Lived and worked in a dozen countries:

For many of us who have lived overseas for extended periods of time, a western passport is a practical tool to have. Traveling back to India every so often is made easy by having an OCI. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Take my example: The decision for me wasn?t hard. I naturalized as an American in 2012, after which I had to have my Indian passport cancelled and applied for an OCI. This was a very practical decision since I lived in the US and worked for a European multinational. I was expected to make frequent business trips from the US to the European HQ. As Indian Passport holder (even with a US Green Card) I was required to apply and renew a Schengen visa. A US passport allows a visa-free travel.

There are few professions like Government service, holding a Political office or military where nationalism and patriotism are kind of a ?Bona fide occupational qualifications? For the rest of us in professional services or business, nationalistic sentiments take a back seat to one?s family and friends, and life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

One way of looking at Naturalization and giving up a birth-citizenship to acquire another one is similar to the ?Flag of convenience – Wikipedia.?

So, how does it feel?

  • Does my heart flutter every time I hear Lata Mangeshkar?s ?A mere watan ke logo? or Mahendra Kapoor?s ?mere desh ki dharti?? Sure it does every time!
  • Do I feel a sense of pride standing up for ?star spangled banner? or when I hear ?America the Beautiful.? You Bet !

How do I target NRI clients through Facebook?

Hmm, wouldn?t it be easy to just enter a few keywords on Facebook groups and target Non Resident Indians (NRI) ? Marketers, consultants and analysts would be out of jobs and most advertisers could just click a few buttons.

In reality it is much more challenging to identify NRIs. This is because:

  • The varied demographics and backgrounds of the people that make up NRIs. NRIs could range from laborers in Dubai and Muscat to bankers on Wall Street and London? and of course Techies on H1 visas and hundreds of thousands of students in western universities.
  • Geographic spread. NRIs are geographically dispersed across the globe
  • Varied professions. NRIs range from housewives to Hindu priests in temples to professionals to Motel business owners.

Now, back to your question. You need to begin classifying your target audience

  • Which – profession, economic class – are the NRIs you are looking to target?
  • Where – Identify the location where you plan to target NRIs
  • Why – Why do you plan to target NRIs? What do you plan to sell them?

Once you have narrowed down the groups, you need further research on NRI portals – example Garamchai.Com – with listings of businesses, places of worship, Indian associations, Student associations etc.

After you have identified these associations and businesses, search on Facebook groups to target people.

If you think all this is a lot of effort you are not wrong. This is just step one in engagement since NRIs even in online groups are going to be wary of unsolicited requests from strangers. This means you need a plan to engage in social media before you can ?target? them.

Message me if you need references to consultants who may be able to guide you. All the best!

Q&A: Why don't Indians wear deodorant?

Here is an interesting question on an online forum and my response

Why don’t Indians wear deodorant?This is obviously a generalization, but I’ve noticed that most Indians in the US don’t wear deodorant. Why is this?

Indians don?t wear deodorant??You must be kidding!

Image source:?Deo ads face the axe effect?

Image:?Emraan Hashmi Cobraman ? (@ehcobraman)

Now, back to the question, With a billion+ people and a growing, affluent middle class, Deodorant market is certainly taking off. FMCG marketers in India dream of getting their Deodorant to be on ?Top 5 Best Selling Men?s Deodorant Brands in India?

A few reasons?some?Indians may not be wearing Deodorant

  • They are Swedesi and dont want to consume western brands.
    • These folks may be waiting for a?swadesi?brand; e.g Baba Ramdev?s pantanjali? deodorant
  • Can?t afford Deodorant
    • ? ? Can you really expect those living on minimum wage to spend ?s on a Deo?
  • Might think that their BO attracts the opposite sex.

NRI Q&A: For returning NRIs of India, is there any way to save the tax on the NRE Savings interest?

Here is a recent online query:

For returning NRIs of India, is there any way to save the tax on the NRE Savings interest?

This is typically interesting. If you keep your money overseas, you can avoid the Indian taxes that is relatively high and hardly 1% of Indians pay taxes. In other words, practically the Government does not want the funds to be brought back to India. Looks weird!!!

Response below:

Evaluating just tax on your interest/savings is very myopic and can lead to poor decisions. Why do I say that?

  • Repatriate or not is a question that requires a lot of thought
    • Interest / dividends income in many western countries is taxable. For instance, if you have an account in the US, UK or Canada, your financial institution will automatically report it to tax authorities, and may also deduct tax (TDS) before you get paid.
    • Interest rates in the west – in $s??s or ? -?are much less than offered for??.
    • Of course other factors like exchange rate fluctuations will have to be taken into account
  • It is not practical – or wise – to evade taxes. Look for holistic strategies to avoid and minimize taxes. Check out?Difference Between Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (with Comparison Chart) – Key Differences
  • Tax planning needs to take a 360 view of your earnings and finances and not just interest
    • Unless you are a professional financier or full-time investor (e.g Warren Buffet), Interest and dividends from investments are going to be one component of your earnings.
  • Tax planning will also have to consider one?s global income considering tax treaties India has with other governments . E.g -?US ? India tax treaty – IRS.gov

Another key factor to keep in mind: A ?returning NRI? will become a (tax) ?resident? of India after returning and spending a set period of time in India.

Bottomline: Trawling in Quora and online forums may give you partial answers. If you have sizable income and investments, hire a competent tax adviser.