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)”

Patanjali_Advert

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”

Book Review: Stories from Tagore

This kindle edition of stories by Rabindranath Tagore was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. Rabindranath Tagore (1861 1941), is to the Indian subcontinent what Shakespeare is to the English-speaking world. A poet, playwright, painter, and educator, Tagore was also a mystic of great complexity and depth. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Stories from Tagore by [Tagore, Rabindranath]

Review from our editor, Sujatha, on Amazon

I happened to chance on Tagore’s classic listed for Kindle’s and decided to check it out, especially since I had read some of his stories years ago. This edition of “Stories from Tagore” is a collection of classics from the master.

Novel laurate Rabindranath Tagore’s writing has shaped and transformed Indian literature, and has been an inspiration for generations. The stories in this collection cover a broad spectrum of themes and includes classics like the Cabuliwallah and Subha. These tales from generations ago which continue to enlighten contemporary readers.

About the author: Rabindranath Tagore  was a Nobel Laureate for Literature (1913) as well as one of India’s greatest poets and the composer of independent India’s national anthem, as well as that of Bangladesh. He wrote successfully in all literary genres, but was first and foremost a poet, publishing more than 50 volumes of poetry. He was a Bengali writer who was born in Calcutta and later traveled around the world. He was knighted in 1915, but gave up his knighthood after the massacre of demonstrators in India in 1919.


You may also be interested in other recent book review (link) | You may also be interested in the Books section of GaramChai

Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

This was an interesting question that came from an online forum recently. The person adds: “The reason for question is that I have seen some third party individuals claiming that “their” company has setting with the consular officers and hence higher acceptance rate etc.”

Here is the response from our editor, Mohan

Are US State department and embassy officials corruptible? Sadly, yes they too are humans as these news articles indicate [USA Today: State Department official indicted on bribery charge | ABC News: Embassy Officer Admits Taking $3M in Bribes for Visas ]

With this backdrop, here is the fact: These cases of corruption are too few and far between to be statistically relevant. The U.S immigration system and State Department have sufficient checks-and-balances to quickly identify bad-apples and make sure justice prevails.

Think; if there were allegations of ‘big Indian companies’ bribing US consular officers, Wouldn’t Mr. Trump have already tweeted about it?

Here is how the process works at top companies that apply for H1 visas – e.g Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Accenture, IBM etc

  • These companies have extremely strong ‘visa departments’ with efficient processes and people. The visa department representatives work with line managers and applicants to ensure the right paperwork is submitted accurately, with the right references, supporting letters, credentials etc.
  • The visa-departments and their consultants continually seek the latest updates on visa processing from embassies and consulates, and are quick to update their processes when new requirements are identified.
  • Visa departments also have a closed-loop with candidates to ensure they learn from success, and a few rejections.
  • Visa departments also work with line managers to plan ‘demand’ for resources, especially timed around the ‘H1 Visa’ lottery filing deadlines. These steps ensure an extremely low rate of rejection of visas (compared to rest of the applicant pool).

Hard, grunt work at a large scale is the secret of success, and not ‘corruption’ or ‘bribery’

How do I know? I experienced the efficiencies of Visa Department @Infosys many years ago.


Last week we also blogged about “Immigration Fraud: Indian to lose US citizenship after being convicted”

2017 Self-Realization Fellowship World Convocation August 6-12

The Kriya Yoga Teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda

LOS ANGELES— Several thousand Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) members and friends from 51 states and 41 other countries will convene at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, August 6-12 for the 2017 SRF World Convocation. The annual event is a weeklong immersion in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda—widely regarded as the father of Yoga in the West, author of the celebrated spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship. Yogananda established SRF in 1920 to disseminate his teachings on the ancient science and philosophy of Kriya Yoga, and its sacred tradition of meditation.

The SRF Convocation provides a unique opportunity for spiritual communion and practical instruction for attendees hailing from New Zealand to Nepal to Botswana to Peru. The program includes group meditations, “How-to-Live” classes based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, kirtans (devotional chanting), fellowship, and spiritual counsel from SRF monastics.

The teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda have inspired many through the years to approach life with a sense of calm and peace, helping them to achieve their goals – personally, professionally, and spiritually. At the heart of the SRF teachings is the science of Kriya Yoga, which includes a sacred technique of meditation that serves to quiet both body and mind, making it possible to withdraw one’s energy and attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions. In the clarity of that inner stillness, one comes to experience a deepening interior peace and attunement with one’s true self.

Among the evening talks that will be presented by SRF monks and nuns at this year’s Convocation are:

“Transforming Your Life by the Power of Consciousness and Positive Thought”
“Make Your Meditations Come Alive”
“Cultivating the Power of a Devotional Heart”
“Calmness: Spiritual Strategy for Overcoming Life’s Tests”
“Prayer: Embracing Our World With Compassion and Understanding”

While some of the program activities are open only to students of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons, the evening talks are available to the public ($35 per class).

Attendees who have traveled from outside of the local region to attend Convocation are given the opportunity to participate in pilgrimage tours to several of the temples and sanctuaries established by Yogananda in Southern California, including the Encinitas Retreat and Hermitage, where Yogananda wrote most of his spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi.

For more information about the 2017 SRF World Convocation in Los Angeles, please visit Yogananda-SRF.org and “Highlights from Past Convocations”
or call Self-Realization Fellowship’s headquarters in Los Angeles at (323) 225-2471.

Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is the international nonprofit spiritual organization founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda to introduce to people of all races, cultures, and creeds the ancient science and philosophy of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. Through its spiritual and humanitarian service, the society seeks to foster greater harmony and goodwill among the diverse peoples and nations of the world, and a deeper understanding of the underlying unity of all religions. Together with its sister organization Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), SRF has grown to include 800 temples, retreats and meditation centers throughout the world.

Paramahansa Yogananda first arrived in America in 1920 from his native India, the invited delegate at an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston, Massachusetts, where he delivered a speech on the science of religion. It marked the beginnings of his profound impact on Western spiritual seekers and of the growing recognition of his role as the father of yoga in the West. Five years later, a transcontinental speaking tour brought him to Los Angeles, where he established the headquarters for his worldwide spiritual and humanitarian work atop Mount Washington. Interest in his teachings has grown steadily over the years, with readers of his numerous books (including the best-selling classic Autobiography of a Yogi) numbering in the millions. The highly acclaimed documentary, AWAKE: The life of Yogananda, was released in 2014.

You may also be interested in GaramChai.com Yoga Section

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.

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.


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