Article: The Days of Desi

An article in Deccan Herald “The Days of Desi” makes for an interesting read for Desis in Pardes.

Illustration by Kavitha Mandana

 

The author, Surekha Kadapa-bose explains “the end of 2017 is witnessing a sudden cacophony, a sudden urgency, and a new-found love for everything desi. This, of course, is a delightful U-turn from the previous passionate adoption of everything foreign. But, just as we went to extremes to adapt the Western lifestyle from the 1970s to the new millennium, we now seem to be doing the same with desi. There seems to be a bit too much stress on desi food, fashion, culture, religion, rituals, films, music, education etc.”

There is a general misconception that fashion, as shown in the big fat wedding scenes of Bollywood films, is ‘the’ desi attire – men dressed in long silky sherwanis, bandhgalas, with a angavastra wound round their necks, and women, of course, have to be dressed in voluminous ghagras with miniscule cholis, blingy saris etc…

After desi attire comes food. The craze for desi has made inroads here too. The best examples are the popular junk foods – pizzas and burgers – which are originally adopted from Italy and America. Now they are getting Indianised and are being served with a desi touch. You get pizzas with toppings like tandoori paneer, chicken tikka, paneer vegorama, and burgers with stuffings like veg aloo tikki, masala dosa, paneer and so on.

My take on this variation: if one is so much in love with desi khaana, then why not say “no” to pizzas and burgers, and have Mom-made dosas, parathas and samosas instead?


GaramChai.com has long prided itself in being the single stop source for “Desi in Pardes” with extensive listings of Desi Restaurants, boutiques, places of worship and culture

 

 

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Indian Student shot dead in California, Sushma Swaraj seeks report.

Image of the victim, Dharampreet Singh Jassar, posted on Facebook
Photo Credit: Facebook

 An Indian student, Dharampreet Singh Jassar was shot dead by four armed robbers at a grocery store in the US state of California.

Jassar was shot by one of the four robbers while they were leaving the service station after looting cash and goods.  At this point officials suspect robbery was the motive and ruled out hate crime.

One of the four robbers who has been arrested was a person of Indian Origin, Armitraj Singh Athwal.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has confirmed that Indian Government was following up and tweeted:

Links to articles about the incident:

 

 

 

 

NRI from Gujarat killed in a shootout at his strip club in North Carolina

A non-resident Indian (NRI) with roots in Gujarat was brutally killed in a shooting in the United States. Forty year old Akash Talati had shifted to US a decade ago. He was running a motel that housed a strip club in  Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, fire and candles

Talati was the owner of  the Diamondz Gentlemen’s Club and was apparently killed in a shootout that resulted from an altercation between the club’s security guards and a patron, who was thrown out.

According to the family, some unidentified assailants had entered the motel with the motive to carry out a loot.“When Akash tried to intervene, the assailants opened firing inside the motel leaving three other employees in the motel injured. Akash died on the spot. After the police reached there, the injured were shifted to hospital where condition of one employee is still critical.”

According to Detective J Littlejohn of Fayetteville Police, the shootout took place around 1.30 am on Saturday, local time at Fayetteville, when Talati was present inside the club. Littlejohn said, “The incident was a result of a verbal exchange between the security guards hired by Talati and a patron, who was asked to leave the club due to his behaviour. He was upset about being asked to go, there was an argument and he opened fire. Talati was shot from close range and died on the spot, while three other employees were injured.”

Littlejohn said no other Indian was injured, while one of the injured is critical. Probe is on to identify the accused, officials said.

Akash is survived by wife Mital, who hails from Surat and eight-year-old son Jay. His last Facebook post, hours before his death, read, “Life is too short for fake connections.”

Other articles about this incident:

 

Book Review: Transit Lounge

Here we present a review of new book ‘Transit Lounge’ by Sunil Mishra.

Transit Lounge by [Mishra, Sunil ] Transit Lounge is a contemporary book consisting of short incidents, observations and reflections while travelling to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years.

The book is a personal account of travels to places in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Mauritius), South America (Venezuela and Argentina), Asia (China, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,Malaysia and Thailand), Europe (UK, France, Italy,Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Georgia,Turkey, Croatia and Romania), USA, Australia and New Zealand.

It was interesting to observe all these different cultures and people from an Indian perspective. The book is a compilation of small incidents and events during such travels; it includes losing an air ticket, dealing with difficult custom officials or getting mugged in a prime location in a foreign country.”

Review by our Editor on Amazon:  “An entertaining and readable travelogue”

An adage – join the navy and see the world – applies in equal measure to this generation of Indian IT professionals who have gone global. Sunil Mishra has leveraged such an opportunity to capture the essence of his travels in the newly published book in which he collates his observations of cultures and people from a distinctly Indian perspective.

The fast-paced narrative is sprinkled with anecdotes and humor that seamlessly ties together his views into a readable book. He shrugs at incidents where he had to bribe customs officials and security guards, turning to humor; perhaps reflecting on his Indian background where such incidents are par for the course. In his narrative, the author also attempts to review the geopolitical and economic aspects of the countries he visited.

Sunil makes a point of ‘cookie cutter’ customer service he experiences at hotels and airlines, a fact that intrigues the frequent traveler in me. With all the choices of airlines, he continues to patronize Indian national carrier, Air India, more than a few times while observing its ‘declining ranking.’ Equally intriguing is the fact that Sunil, the frequent-traveler didn’t get to an ‘elite’ status with his preferred airline or hotel, which would have afforded him the “personal touch” he yearns for. (Perhaps add those tips to the next edition of the book?)

Bottomline: Transit Lounge is a nice, entertaining and readable travelogue.

[Review from a complimentary copy of the book received from the publisher.]

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 

Honorary Consuls in India

During a recent trip to Bengaluru, India’s Silicon valley, I came across a car with an interesting license place that proudly indicated that the occupant was a “Honorary Consul of the Republic of Djibouti.” 

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I was intrigued  and was reminded of Graham Greene’s bestseller. What was a Honorary Consul of the tiny African nation doing in Bengaluru, I wondered.

Of course, this is not yet another vanity plate: The title is conferred after a lot of vetting, verfification and approvals by the host nation and the home country.  Ref: Honorary Consular Corps Diplomatique-India (HCCD-India) was formed in 1995. This website also has a directory of Honorary Consuls representing foreign governments in various parts of India.

Modern day Honorary Consuls are a part of the city’s elite (ref TOI)

It’s an elite clique: Their swanky cars bear black number plates encrypted with white letters, sport flags of a foreign country, they are guests at all the governor’s events, and have special entry to the seat of power – Vidhana Soudha and Vikas Soudha. They are Honorary Consuls — the creme of society who represent different countries but live right here in Bangalore.

The perks come with great responsibility, though; they are local guardians of the nationals of their respective countries who drop into Bangalore, either on a personal or business trip. Should they run into trouble in the city over issues related to passports, commute, money, they can turn to the Consul for help and guidance.
Consuls are also brand ambassadors of their host country, promoting its political trade and culture in India, particularly Bangalore.

 

– Mohan, Editor, GaramChai.com

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