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.

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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.


Previous articles on the topic:

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 

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

Singapore’s Passport is the most powerful in the world

Middle class Indians, especially educated younger class aspire to migrate west for work and to live. The eventual goal is to acquire a foreign citizenship and an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status. For middle class Indians, a foreign citizenship, like American Naturalization is not only a status symbol but a sense of having arrived!

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Image: flickr.com/photos/ikkoskinen

This trend is not restricted to Indians alone. Rich and famous people from around the world aspire to get a second passport or citizenship to enable them Visa free travel as and when they please.

Companies like advisory firm Arton Capital frequently track and rank passports that can enable one to travel ‘visa free’ around the world. This year’s 2017 Global Passport Power Rank (link) lists Singaporean passport with a score of 159 as the highest, followed by Germany at 158 and Sweden and South Korea tied at 157.

Arton Capital’s Passport Index is the world’s most popular online interactive tool, which collects, displays and ranks the passports of the world. The real time global ranking of the world’s passports are updated as frequently as new visa waivers and changes are announced. Passports of 193 United Nations member countries and 6 territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican) for a total of 199 are considered.

Arton’s report ranked all of the passports of the world for their “total visa-free score,” where a point is given for each country that their holders can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival, or using electronic travel authorization.  What this means is simple: Singaporean Passport holders can travel to 159 countries visa free or requesting a visa on arrival.

 

Afghanistan ranks at the bottom with a rank of 22 preceded by Pakistan and Iraq tied at 26.  The Indian Passport’s Visa Free score is 51.

In case you plan to rush to acquire a Singaporean Passport, keep in mind it is not going to be easy. According to Wikipedia

Singaporean nationality law is derived from the Constitution of Singapore and is based on jus sanguinis and a modified form of jus soli. There are three ways of acquiring Singaporean citizenship: by birth, by descent, or by registration. Citizenship by naturalisation is no longer granted.

A person can apply for registration as a Singaporean citizen if he or she has been a Permanent Resident for at least two years and is gainfully employed or married to a Singaporean citizen.

NRI woman searching for father in Hyderabad finds decomposed body in flat

About an NRI woman coming to Hyderabad in search of her father who had been missing for over a month.

A couple of months ago, we blogged about “Techie reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton”“Techie reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton”

There is another similar yet bizarre story about an NRI woman coming to Hyderabad in search of her father who had been missing for over a month. The woman, and her mother were shocked to find his decomposed body at their flat in LB Nagar.

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Image: lassiwithlavina.com

The NRI and her mother came to Hyderabad because P Lakshminarayana Murthy, a retired government employee, had not been responding to their calls for several days.  Murthy was a native of Rajamahendravaram in Andhra Pradesh. He had two daughters, both of whom were living in the USA. His wife, Lakshmi, had recently gone to America to visit their daughters.

Murthy gone to Hyderabad in August to attend a relative’s wedding and stayed at his daughter’s flat.  During the first few days in Hyderabad, he had been in touch with his wife, after which he had stopped responding to her calls. Worried, the daughters and his wife had alerted relatives in Hyderabad, but none of them had been able to give them any information.

Nearly 40 days later, Lakshmi and her younger daughter Soujanya flew to Hyderabad in search of Murthy.  Despite knocking repeatedly on the door, they received no response. They broke open the door with the help of a local carpenter and entered the flat. They were shocked that none of the residents in the apartment building had noticed a foul smell.

This is yet another morbid story that will send shivers down Non Resident Indians with elderly parents living alone in India.

Story first reported in Deccan Chronicle and thenewsminute.com

Also check out the blog post: The Dilemma of Looking After Aging Desi Parents