Air India deserves Kudos

Sydney, 24 November, 2016

I wish to share two stories involving India’s national airline, Air India. These are very positive stories. Since I believe in praising good deeds, I am writing about them here.

  1. When we heard the sad, tragic and heart-breaking news of the brutal murder of Late Manmeet Sharma “Alisher” in Brisbane recently, everyone in the community was devastated. Manmeet was doing his job and there was no justification for what was done to him. His brother, Amit, and their family friend, Winnerjit Singh, travelled to Brisbane in the most difficult circumstances. They came to Australia to take the mortal remains of Late Manmeet. The sad news of this murder was in all newspapers not only of India, but also of the whole world. Air India chief, Ashwani Lohani, too read about this while travelling from Singapore to India. He felt moved. From Singapore itself, he contacted and asked Air India manager based in Sydney, Madhu Mathen, to offer free transportation of the mortal remains. This offer was conveyed to Indian High Commissioner in Australia, Navdeep Suri, who conveyed it to the family. I have direct information from people involved in this matter. Air India flew the mortal remains to India. I have no doubt that it is a real big gesture from Air India.
  2. When Value World Travel went out of business in November 2015, quite a lot of people lost their air tickets with various airlines. Many were those who had booked tickets with Air India too. Often, such bookings were made many months in advance when airfares were very cheap. After Value World fiasco, people did not have any booking and were required to book again. The airfares had gone up by 2 to 2.5 times by then. While no other airline did anything to alleviate the difficulties these passengers were facing, Air India did something which was unexpected. It was definitely a kind gesture. It offered re-booked tickets at the SAME price at which the original tickets were booked months earlier. I am aware that this gesture from Air India was hugely appreciated by the victims. When I met Air India manager in Sydney on an unrelated occasion, and enquired about it, I was pleased to hear his response. He said, “Air India is India’s national airline and its HEART is Indian. We share the pain and distress of Indians whenever and wherever it happens and try to do what we can do to help them.”

I travel with Air India, which is my favourite airline. I have always found their services to be great. I have many positive experiences, which I will write about one day.

Thank you Air India! We are proud of you!!

Thank you, Mr Madhu Mathen and thank you, Mr Ashwani Lohani.

You have our best wishes for taking Air India to new heights!

Jay Hind!!

Dr Yadu Singh

GOI should assist NRIs/PIOs who are affected by banning of INR 500 & INR 1000 notes

Update on 18 Nov, 2018:


Sydney, 11 November, 2016

Indian Government demonetised (banned) INR 500 and INR 1000 notes on 8 November, 2016.

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, addressed the nation at 8 pm on Tuesday, 8 November and announced the banning of these notes from midnight. The justification for this decision was to control the menace of black money, which is a tool for tax avoidance and is often is also used to fund and spread terrorist activities in India. Apparently, millions of fake currency notes are smuggled into India from across the borders to finance terrorism in India. Political parties will be affected too because their (illegal) trenches of such notes will be worthless and will not be able to be used during elections.

Seemingly, it is a great decision which will be beneficial to Indian economy in the long term.

Black money is estimated to be 25% of India’s GDP and the commonest (estimated 80%) notes used for counterfeit currency are high denomination notes. If and when new notes of high denominations are printed and circulated by GOI, it is expected that they will have advanced security features which will make counterfeiting difficult, if not impossible.

This decision will therefore help India in many ways, although it will cause some temporary inconvenience to people. This could be due to short term restrictions on ATM usage, limits on maximum amount withdrawn from ATMs and banks and lack of sufficient supply of regular currency notes.

This decision affects NRIs and PIOs too. Many people travel to India at least once a year, and some do so even more often. It is not uncommon for them to have some Indian currency with them and bring it back to the country of their residence, while flying out of India. They carry it back with them when going back to India.

There are many in our community in Australia who have some Indian currency with them. Some may be travelling to India in November and December, but some may not be travelling to India for some time.

This  issue are not confined to Indian Australians only. NRIs/PIOS all over the world are in the same boat.

It is not possible to exchange INR currency of high denomination into any other currency  overseas presently and representatives of Indian Banks do not want to or are not authorised to deal with this matter presently.

Options which NRIs/PIOS can choose from are covered in the articles below.


There is some confusion whether NRIs/PIOs were allowed to carry INR 7500, 10,000, 25,000 or none at all while travelling into or out of India.

Rules have been changing and this link from RBI says NRIs/PIOS can bring into or take out from India only upto INR 5000.

This Link from RBI says the amount of INRs NRIs and PIOs can take out of India or bring into India is upto INR 25000 per person.

Can Ministry of External Affairs, Finance Ministry, Reserve Bank of India and GOI authorities in Australia clarify this matter please?

It is likely that NRIs/PIOs will have small amounts (maximum of a few thousands) of INRs. Having said that, it is possible that the amount could be higher depending on number of people in the family. They do not wish to waste this money.

NRIs/PIOs have following options:

  1. Carry the cash if travelling to India until 30 December and deposit them in a Post Office or Bank. The option of changing them at the airport ended on 11 November.
  2. Exchanging of these notes at Exchange Houses or foreign branches of Indian Banks in our country of residence not available.
  3. Deposit these notes in your NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) account if travelling until 31 March, 2017, but we need to be in India to do so. Foreign branches of Indian Banks in our country of residence are not doing it.
  4. Authorise someone including a relative to deposit these notes into your bank account if you have such notes in India. You will need to provide written authorisation and such authorised person will need to go to the Bank branch physically with all documents and identification. I presume you can get authorisation document with the help of your local Indian Embassy/High Commission/Consulate. This will need clarification from local GOI authorities.
  5. Send the money with someone you can trust or a family member who is travelling to India and get the money deposited in your account as explained in point (4).

Many of us might not have an NRO account.

As the acting High Commissioner of India in UK, Dinesh Patnaik, said, the best way might be to have the facility to open NRO accounts with the branches of Indian Banks operating overseas. ( This is not available at present but he promised to work for it.

State Bank of India and a few more Banks have branches in Australia. This will be the case in many other countries too.

They should be able to allow us to open NRO accounts, if they get the permission by Government of India/RBI. This is feasible and is not a huge work.

it will ease the problem if NRIs/PIOs are treated as a special case and a consideration is given to extend the time by which they must deposit the notes in NRO accounts. It will help if they are given time until 31 December, 2017 to complete this process.

May we ask Indian High Commissioner in Australia and Consul Generals, as well as Ministry of Overseas Indians affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, to take this matter up and help NRI/PIO community in Australia as well other countries with a practical mechanism in this matter?

Dr Yadu Singh

This is simply ignorant and racist

Sydney, NSW
15th December, 2015

The Cartoon by Mr Bill Leak in The Australian newspaper on Monday, 14th Dec, 2015 is ignorant and racist.

Courtesy The Australian newspaper

Courtesy The Australian newspaper

It depicts a few poor Indians in India trying to eat the solar panels, with Mango Chutney. The message from the cartoon is that Indians don’t know what the Solar Panels are for or that Indians need to worry about Food, instead of high tech Solar Panels.

Bill Leak is wrong on both aspects.

Solar Panels are increasingly used in India, because of plentiful supply of sunshine, subsidy by the authorities and erratic supply of conventional energy. I know that a few people in my own village in Uttar Pradesh State have been using it for variety of purposes for many years.

Indians are fully capable of handling technology. Mobile Internet and Mobile Phones are every where, even in the remote parts of the nation. Social media is quite common everywhere.

India needs energy ie electricity. Coal-fire powered thermal power centres are the most common source for the energy, but India is making progress to diversify into Nuclear energy and Solar power. This is a responsible step because it will reduce pollution and help in climate change.

India is the fourth biggest source of global pollution. Anything which will reduce this undesirable contribution is a welcome step.

India is a developing economy but is not a economic backwater. It is 3rd biggest economy on PPP basis. It is a global leader in IT and is the fastest growing economy since last quarter of 2014, surpassing China. The days of primitive nature of economy are long gone, but people like Bill Leak seem to be stuck on the state of India in 1950s.


Economic growth in India surpassed China this year

(Source: Charles Schwab, International Monetary Fund data as of 11/20/2015.

China’s growth rate is widely expected to decline. The IMF forecasts GDP will slow from around 6.8% in 2015 to 6.3% in 2016. However, the IMF forecasts India’s growth rate of about 7.3% in 2015 is expected to reach 7.5% in 2016 and continue to rise to 7.7% by 2020.)


Undoubtedly, India has many poor people, but it also has approx. 300+ million strong middle class, which has the knowledge, money and interest in, and will happily benefit from, newer sources of electricity. After all, India has plentiful of sunshine.

Bill Leak probably does not know that Indians have been the number one source of migrants to Australia over last few years. They are coming as the skilled migrants too, thus contributing to the Australian economy.

There are about 450,000 people of Indian heritage currently in Australia.

I read the article in The Australian today (15th Dec, 2015). Like others, I felt offended with the inherent racist message in the Cartoon. Bill Leak has, in the past, claimed that freedom to express is a fundamental right and that right includes right to offend. It may be true on the theoretical basis, but it is equally stupid to say or convey something which is without sufficient basis or conveying something which is unwarranted.


Yadu Singh@dryadusingh Dec 15 

, I hope you know about it.

, you are ignorant & racist. Please read up about India. should apologize.

Indian HC in Aus@navdeepsuri Dec 15

Fully aware and doing what is required. Thanks


I remember a Cartoon in Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) a few months ago, stereotyping Jewish people in a very adverse way, leading to significant outcry. This forced the SMH to apologise for the Cartoon.

Will Bill Leak and The Australian newspaper do the same in this case is something which we would wait and watch.

Further info:

Dr Yadu Singh