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.

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Man seeking Non Resident Indian (NRI) bride duped

One frequently hears of NRI brides and women seeking NRI alliances being duped by unscrupulous men. In a strange twist.

According to media reports, Sadar police in Ludhiana (Punjab) have registered a case  against a Non Resident Indian (NRI) woman’s family, for allegedly duping a Ludhiana resident of Rs 5.50 lakh on the pretext of marrying him and and sending him abroad.

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Krishan Kumar Khatri had placed a matrimonial advertisement the local newspaper calling for alliances for his daughter who is settled in Australia.  After initial conversations, the  bride’s family asked the family of Kulwinder Singh, the prospective groom for 90,000 Australian dollars. They agreed to take the money in three installments, and were paid Rs 1/2 million rupees as the initial installment. After receiving that money, the bride’s family ended all connection with the prospective groom and his family.

The father of Kulwinder complained to the local police, who registered a case under Section 420 (cheating) of the IPC against Mr. Khatri. The investigating officer from Sadar police station, ASI Ravinder Kumar, confirmed that although the ‘negotiations’ had taken place a few years ago, the family filed a complaint only in 2016. A case was registered recently after the initial investigation was completed.


 

In another unrelated news – Matrimonial website fraud: Mumbai schoolteacher claims Rs 11.5 lakh cheating by ‘NRI’

 

Feel good story: NRI couple’s generous act for visually-impaired kids

Here is a feel good story about a Non Resident Indian (NRI) couple giving back to their homeland from The Hindu:

Students of the Nalgonda Blind School, run by the Development and Welfare Association of the Blind, had special visitors dropping into its campus on Tuesday.

An NRI doctor-couple G. Aruna Devi and Gopal Reddy gifted the school dual desk benches for students, a solar power set-up and a refrigerator, all together valued at ₹20 lakh.

Moved by the students’ needs, the couple assured they would direct organisations that could help out the school as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Nalgonda MLA Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, who interacted with the students, shared memories of a visually-impaired friend, telling that strong will helped him achieve success in life.

District Collector Gaurav Uppal said the government was considering undertaking development work at the school.


 

You may also be interested in GaramChai.com’s Charity section 

The original NRIs and OCIs : One hundred years since servitude

The digirati in online forums like Quora, Rediff frequently wonder about ‘the first’ Non-Resident-Indians, Overseas Citizen of India and the original Indian diaspora. An interesting article in the Economist magazine “One hundred years since servitude”  traces the history of Indians migrating overseas a century ago.

Article and image credit: The Economist, Sep 2nd 2017

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DOOKHEE GUNGAH, born of Indian migrants, began life in 1867 in a shed in Mauritius and worked as a child cutting sugar cane. By his death in 1944, he was one of the island’s richest businessmen. He is a notable example of how some indentured labourers prospered against the odds.

Between the 1830s and 1917 around 2m migrants signed up for ten-year terms (later cut to five) in European colonies (see chart on next page). Most were from India, with smaller shares from China, South-East Asia and elsewhere. Some “coolies” were fleeing poverty and hunger; others were coerced or deceived. In British colonies from 1834, and in French and Dutch ones from later, they replaced freed African slaves on sugar and coffee plantations.

“Slavery under a different name” is how The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society described the indenture system in 1839. It had a point. Many migrants died en route, and at first plantation owners, used to slaves, treated their new workers hardly any better. But conditions gradually improved. When the Indian Legislative Council finally ended indenture, a century ago, it did so because of pressure from Indian nationalists and declining profitability, rather than from humanitarian concerns.

The indentured labourers’ fortunes varied from place to place, according to their numbers, who else lived there, and laws about land tenure and race. But a shared post-colonial identity is now emerging, combining pride in India’s economic rise, religious and cultural traditions—and, increasingly, commemoration of their ancestors’ struggles to establish themselves.

Indo-Mauritians are among the richest and most politically powerful of those descendants. As a British colony, Mauritius took the greatest share of indentured migrants: some 450,000. Their descendants are now two-thirds of the island’s 1.26m inhabitants. Many of the largest businesses are owned by Franco-Mauritians whose ancestors dated from the earlier French colonisation, though they make up just 2% of the population. But Indo-Mauritians dominate the public sector.

Local legend has it that Dookhee (pictured with family, third man from left, around 1912) owed his meteoric rise to finding buried treasure. The true story, says his great-grandson, Swetam Gungah, is that “whatever little he had, he would put it aside.” Unlike slaves, indentured labourers were paid, and since most were unable to leave their plantations, they spent little. Aged 21 Dookhee bought land and started growing sugar cane. “He was savvy enough to diversify. He planted an orchard, started a bakery and much more,” says Mr Gungah. When the price of sugar plummeted in the 1880s most plantation-owners went broke. Dookhee got richer. Other former indentured labourers were also able to buy broke colonists out. By 1933 Indo-Mauritians owned almost two-fifths of all land planted with sugar cane.

Land also gave indentured labourers a start in South Africa, where many were granted plots after their servitude. Koshir Kassie’s great-grandfather arrived in the province of Natal and worked on a plantation and then in a gold mine. He saved enough to pay his employer to end his contract early, and bought land. But under apartheid many Indian South Africans, including Mr Kassie’s family, were forced off their land and into Indian townships. “After indenture, Indians built themselves up,” says Mr Kassie. “Then came apartheid and they had to start again.”

Many managed to rebuild. Today, Indian South Africans’ average income is three times higher than that of black South Africans, and they are nearly twice as likely to have finished high school. But these days they are politically marginalised. In the first democratic elections, in 1994, two-thirds voted for the National Party, which had previously defended apartheid. Those with less education particularly resent South Africa’s new system of racial preferences in jobs and education for blacks.

Seeds in fertile ground

Indentured labourers in Trinidad and Guyana (formerly British Guiana) were also granted land. That was less generous than it seems: much of it was ill-suited to growing sugar cane. The Indians, however, discovered it was perfect for rice. Many prospered. But in both places, though people of Indian origin are the largest ethnic group (35% and 40% respectively), they have struggled to gain the level of influence that Indo-Mauritians have.

In Mauritius the departing British colonists regarded Indians as the heirs to power. In Trinidad, however, the mantle was passed to Afro-Trinidadians, who were settled decades before the indentured labourers arrived. Politics and the public sector operated through a patronage system, which kept Afro-Trinidadians in charge. Even after independence in 1962, Indo-Trinidadians were largely excluded from government and public-sector jobs.

Today, politics is still divided on ethnic lines, with the People’s National Movement supported by Afro-Trinidadians and the People’s Partnership coalition supported by Indo-Trinidadians. But socially, the groups are mingling more—and increasingly intermarrying. Nearly a quarter of the population identifies as mixed-race.

In Guyana ethnic divisions cut much deeper. Compared with Trinidad, its sheer size meant ethnic groups formed more segregated communities. A fragile inter-ethnic harmony, nonetheless, prevailed for the first half of the 20th century. That ended in 1964, when a pre-election conflict broke out between the largely Afro-Guyanese People’s National Congress and the largely Indo-Guyanese People’s Progressive Party. “I had Hindu friends, African, Portuguese, Chinese friends,” says Khalil Ali, a Muslim Indo-Guyanese novelist, of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. “Then suddenly my black friends stopped speaking to me and I stopped speaking to them.” The resulting violence led to hundreds of deaths and thousands fleeing abroad.

Ethnic divisions persisted after independence in 1966, and were worsened by economic hardship. Even as Trinidad boomed because of oil, disastrous left-wing policies reduced resource-rich Guyana to one of South America’s poorest countries. But in 2015 a multi-racial coalition came to power, promising unity. Although change is slow—the government is still mostly Afro-Guyanese and Mr Ali says Indo-Guyanese who joined the coalition have been called traitors—elections in 2020 offer another glimmer of hope. Younger Guyanese are further distanced from the events of the 1960s. The mixed-race population, now around 20%, is growing.

Indentured workers’ descendants have done least well where their ancestors could not own land, as in Fiji. Its indigenous population resented the new arrivals, and the British made promises about land ownership to their tribal chiefs. Many Indo-Fijians became tenant farmers, and for part of the 20th century did quite well, says Crispin Bates, who leads a project funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council entitled “Becoming Coolies”. But when their leases came to an end, starting in the 1980s, their status declined.

Sporadic attempts to improve their position after independence in 1970 ended with a coup in 1987. A new constitution reserved majorities for ethnic Fijians in both houses of parliament. Over 10,000 Indo-Fijians left the island as a result. Two further coups centred on their rights. Finally, in 2013 Indo-Fijians were given equal status in the constitution. And, in 2014, in free elections, Frank Bainimarama (who led the most recent coup, in 2006) won with an anti-racist message. His task is considerable: though land has been made easier to lease, holdings by ethnic Fijians still cannot be sold. Indo-Fijians are still excluded—and ethnic Fijians are newly aggrieved. Anti-Indian sentiment is rampant.

Pride and prejudice

In most places that took indentured labourers, racial animus persists. Their arrival was “a real trauma” for indigenous and former-slave populations, says Mr Bates. In Trinidad and Guyana “coolie” is used as a slur (and the Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Trinidadians have plenty of racist terms for their compatriots of African origin). In Fiji and the French Caribbean “z’Indiens” are stereotyped as money-grubbing, and mocked in expressions such as “faib con an coolie” (“weak as a coolie” in Guadeloupian creole). In the 1970s a Fijian politician, Sakesai Butadroka, said in parliament that “people of Indian origin” should be “repatriated back to India”. As recently as 2014 a popular song by the Zulu band, AmaCde, called on black South Africans to confront Indians and “send them home”.

 

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Strangers in strange lands, indentured labourers and their descendants preserved some traditions, from caste practices to recipes. From the 1880s the Arya Samaj, a religious group, attempted to reinstate Hindu culture in the diaspora—which rallied, in turn, behind Gandhi’s Indian nationalist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. During periods of ethnic strife in the 20th century hyphenated-Indian communities turned inwards for self-protection.

In recent years, though, a new kind of “Indian pride” has begun to take form. Mauritius has had strong links with India since post-independence tax and trade deals. But of a recent visit to Mauritius, Ashutosh Kumar, the author of a new book about indenture, “Coolies of the Empire”, says “the way Mauritians were discussing Indian politics: it was like I was back home in India.” In Trinidad, which got its first Indo-Trinidadian prime minister in 1995, there is “a new sense of Indian cultural pride”, says Andil Gosine, an Indo-Trinidadian academic in Canada. “When I go back now I see loads of people wearing saris, which they wouldn’t have done before.”

This cultural revivalism is, to some extent, the work of Hindu nationalists, particularly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council). It has recently devoted more attention to the diaspora—and stirred up tensions between Hindus and Muslims. More is due to India’s rise as an economic power. Diaspora Indians are seeking to “bask in the reflected glory of their motherland”, says Mr Kumar.

Khal Torabully, a Mauritian poet of mixed Indian descent, has coined the word “coolitude” for a new identity, which mixes heritage from India and the other sending countries with a century of history in racially diverse former colonies. Acknowledging their ancestors’ servitude as part of that can be uncomfortable. Indian South Africans are “proud to be Indian”, says Mr Kassie, but “don’t like to talk about indenture much”. Mr Gosine recalls his grandfather describing his own grandfather: “A Brahmin, riding around the plantation on a horse, dressed all in white. But then my grandmother chipped in: ‘What on earth are you talking about?’”

Making sense of displacement and difference, struggle and success, is also a work in progress for host countries. But some have started to weave the history of indentured labourers into their national narratives. In 2006 Aapravasi Ghat, where they first arrived in Mauritius, was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site. In the same year the Indian Caribbean Museum opened in Waterloo, Trinidad. Last year the 1860 Indian Museum, dedicated to indenture, opened in Durban. “We still have a lot of problems to think of ourselves as Mauritians,” says Mr Torabully. “But remembering indenture, just as we remember slavery, is at the heart of that identity.”

You may also be interested in GaramChai.com section on Indian Statistics 

 

 

 

Indian Tom Hanks: After a 48-Hour ordeal, Bahrain-bound NRI reaches ‘home’

In a story that seems to mirror that of  Tom Hanks’ plight in the hollywood movie “The Terminal,” a Non Resident Indian (NRI) living in Bahrain, Satyendra Singh was stranded at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport for over 48 hours.

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Mr. Singh had traveled to India to meet his parents in Lucknow. While returning to Bahrain, he arrived in the national capital from Lucknow on Saturday. After he went towards the international security check in Delhi, he put his handbag with his passport in the security scanner. While clearing security, he realized his bag was missing. Another Canada bound passenger had mistakenly taken his bag and boarded an Air Canada flight.

By the time Satyendra Singh discovered his loss, the Canada bound flight had departed. Satyendra was not allowed to leave the terminal due to ‘security reasons’ since he had already cleared immigration check.

Singh had to spend two days at the airport while the airlines tracked his handbag and routed it back from Canada!

He finally reached ‘home’ in Bahrain after a 48-hour ordeal at IGI airport. “My wife was crying and was relieved when I finally reached. They panicked and I just want to thank my wife and her relatives for rallying around me,” said Singh.

Moral of the story: Head the oft-repeated warnings you hear at Airports around the world “Keep your documents and valuables with you at all times”


The Terminal,”  is a moving tale, where Tom Hanks plays the victim of the modern world. That a man could spend months stuck in diplomatic limbo living in an airport may seem far-fetched, but in fact, the movie is inspired by a real-life character who is living at terminal one of Paris Charles De Gaulle airport.

Indian Origin NRI arrested and charged with sexually assaulting woman on plane in Michigan

A 34-year-old man of Indian-origin Prabhu Ramamoorthy was arrested by federal authorities in Michigan after a woman co-passenger complained of being sexually assaulted by him after falling asleep on the flight.

Prabhu allegedly groped the 22-year-old seated next to him on a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas which landed in Detroit early on January 3, the Washington Post reported.

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Image from Facebook

The man, Prabhu Ramamoorthy, who prosecutors said is an Indian national living in the United States on a temporary visa, was charged with aggravated sexual abuse and held without bail after an appearance in federal court in Michigan on Thursday.

The victim told investigators that she woke up to find her pants and shirt unbuttoned and the man’s hand inside her pants.

Federal prosecutor Amanda Jawad said that Ramamoorthy sat between his wife and the victim. He stopped after the victim woke up, and the woman went to the back of the plane to report the incident to a flight attendant, the criminal complaint said.

Two flight attendants told federal investigators that the victim was crying and that her shirt was untied and that her pants were unbuttoned when she reported the incident at about 5:30 a.m., 40 minutes before the plane’s landing, Jawad said. The attendants kept the woman in the back of the plane and offered her a different seat, and while they were talking to the victim, Ramamoorthy’s wife came to the back to see what was going on, Jawad said.

Ramamoorthy was arrested after the plane landed, according to court documents. He told agents in a written statement that he had taken a pill and fallen into a deep sleep, Jawad said, and that he hadn’t done anything besides learning from his wife that the 22-year-old woman was sleeping on his knees.

Magistrate Judge Steven Whalen, who said it was a “very unusual case,” ordered Ramamoorthy to be held pending trial after Jawad successfully argued that he was a flight risk and a potential danger to others around him. The prosecutor said that Ramamoorthy’s wife, who was also living in the United States on a temporary visa, would not make a suitable custodian for him.

Prosecutors said Ramamoorthy, who hails from Tamil Nadu was living in the United States on a temporary visa. He was charged with aggravated sexual abuse and held without bail after an appearance in federal court in Michigan on Thursday.


 

In another unrelated news, Times of India reported that an Indian doctor has been sentenced to 10 months behind bars in the US for groping two teenage female patients and faces deportation to India after the completion of his jail term.

Arun Aggarwal, 40, was sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to four counts of gross sexual imposition.

NRIs, foreigners and Senior Citizens without Aadhaar can re-verify their mobile services says DoT

There is a lot of debate among the non-resident Indian community about Aadhaar Verification required for some of the essential services like bank accounts, financial transactions and even telephone service and SIM. The challenge is that many of the NRIs who left India years ago may not have an Aadhaar Card.  They may not be eligible to apply for an Indian Unique ID during short visits back home.

Recognizing this challenge, the Indian Government’s Department of Telecom (DoT) has clarified a procedure for re-verification of mobile connections of foreign nationals, as well as NRI subscribers who either do not have Aadhaar or their mobile number is not registered with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

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Image courtesy: Shutterstock

NRIs with elderly parents back home will be happy to note that the DoT has also extended the re-verification procedure for senior citizens above 70 years who do not have an  Aadhaar and are unable to complete a biometric authentication

The DoT also added that various representations had been received from Non Resident India (NRIs) Overseas Indians and foreign nationals citing difficulties being faced by them in re-verification of their Indian mobile connections.

Details of the DoT announcement can be found on its website (link). You may also call the customer service of your phone’s service provider.


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