Diaspora Indians should be given a fair go on demonetisation matters

Sydney, Australia, 23 February, 2017

Quite many people of Indian heritage (Diaspora Indians) are concerned and worried about their inability to change demonetised INR notes of 500 and 1000. Diaspora Indians include NRI (with Indian passports), People of Indian heritage with foreign citizenship (without PIO/OCI cards) and People of Indian heritage with foreign citizenship and PIO/OCI cards.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has permitted Indian residents, who were not in India between 8 November and 31 December, 2016, to be able to deposit their demonetised notes at RBI branches in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Nagpur up to 31 March 2017. Non-Resident Indians, NRIs, (who have Indian passports) are able to do so up to June 30, 2017. Overseas Citizens of India (Foreign passports with PIO or OCI cards) or Diaspora Indians with foreign passports, but without OCI/PIO cards, are not able to deposit their demonetised notes at all.

Government of India is making a difference between NRIs and OCIs. This is totally contrary to what is the constitutional position for such people. NRIs and OCIs are supposed to have similar rights in India except that NRIs can vote and hold official positions in India, but OCIs can not. Different rules for different categories of Diaspora Indians is not right or proper.

This matter is being discussed actively among overseas Indians (Diaspora Indians) all over the world. I have been part of numerous such discussions in Australia.

The consensus appears to be as follows:

  • Overseas Indians with Foreign Citizenship, with/without PIO and OCI cards, and NRIs (with Indian passports) should be treated as equal for demonetisation related matters.
  • Overseas Indians with Foreign Citizenship, with/without PIO and OCI cards, and NRIs should be treated as if they are resident Indians. This means that they should be permitted to deposit up to Rs. 250,000 of demonetised Indian currency in the Reserve Bank of India if they can prove that they were overseas between November 8 and December 31, 2016.
  • Current permission to NRIs to deposit amount up to of Rs. 25,000 until 30 June, 2017, if they can prove that they were overseas in the relevant period, should be increased to up to Rs. 250,000. On this matter, NRIs and Resident Indians should be treated equally.
  • As explained below, many diaspora Indians and their families may have more than INR 25,000 because they have been visiting India with their families over many years. They therefore may well have more than INR 25000.
  • Many of the diaspora Indians (NRIs, Foreign passport holders with or without PIO and OCI cards) have old currency notes in their residences in India or overseas for a variety of reasons, which includes holding left over INRs by their family members during travels to India over several years. They should be allowed by RBI and their  Indian Banks, with whom they have NRO accounts, to deposit the amount, provided they can prove that they were overseas between November 8 and December 31.
  • Diaspora Indians (NRIs, Indians with Foreign Citizenship with/without PIO and OCI cards) may not be able to travel to India soon. The last date for such deposits should be extended to  up to December 31, 2017.
  • RBI should consider that it is often not feasible or economically viable for Overseas Indians to travel to India for a variety of reasons including the cost of an air ticket. Tickets costs INR 50,000 to travel from Sydney to India. It will not make any sense to travel to India to deposit a small amount.  It will be worth considering that Diaspora Indians are allowed to deposit their demonetised INR notes at the overseas branches of Indian banks or allowed to bring such money from others, with due authorisation from GOI missions overseas, and be able to deposit this money in relevant banks in India.

Oversea Indians, whose numbers are about 30 million, send FDI of approx. USD 70 million annually, and are often mentioned in Prime Minister’s and other ministers’ speeches, as valuable members of India’s global family. They expect and deserve demonstration of their description of valued members of India’s extended family in the matters related to demonetised currency notes.

It is important that GOI demonstrates its intent by removing the discrimination against diaspora Indians in the matters related to  facilities for demonetised notes not only in comparison to Resident Indians, but also between different categories of Overseas Indians.

http://mha1.nic.in/pdfs/oci-chart.pdf has details of facilities for NRIs and OCIs.

“OCIs have parity with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial, and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.”

Diaspora Indians therefore request GOI to amend RBI notification appropriately. https://www.rbi.org.in/SCRIPTS/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=10808&Mode=0

We urge Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, Smt Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley and Reserve Bank of India to give a serious consideration to our appeal.

Dr Yadu Singh

Federation of Indian Associations of NSW

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Consular grievance management system is a great service for overseas Indians

Sydney, NSW

22nd April, 2016

Consular grievance management system is an initiative by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

Sushma Swaraj EAM.jpg

This will be useful for overseas Indians. Do use it, if needed.

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Details are here: http://www.madad.gov.in/AppConsular/welcomeLink


Dr Yadu Singh

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Pankaj Saw died from a fall from the balcony in Macquarie Park, Sydney

Sydney, NSW 5th April, 2015

I received the sad and unfortunate news of the death of 29 years old Indian  IT professional, Pankaj Saw (working with Tech Mahindra for Optus) on 2nd April, 2015. Images of the white brick apartment block, located on the corner of Cottonwood Crescent and Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park, show a wooden railing missing from the top-floor balcony of the apartment where Mr Saw lived. Police are saying that the balcony railing gave way, leading to his fall 10 metres below on the concrete floor. A part of railing and his smashed phone were found nearby. He sustained severe head and internal injuries, leading to his death at the scene.

From reports, he was talking to someone on phone at the time of his fall. He had returned from India only a few weeks ago. He married to his wife in December 2014.

His wife, Amrita Gupta, is from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, the Parliamentary constituency of Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi. She has met representatives at PM’s constituency office in Varanasi and the local Mayor, Mr Ram Gopal Mohale, and made a few requests. She has expressed her fears that her husband might have been killed by racist violence.

Local newspaper, Dainik Jagran reported the following story today. I was sent a link of the story by a Varanasi local man, Ashutosh Narayan Singh on Twitter today.

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Sun, 05 Apr 2015 01:17 AM (IST) http://m.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi-city-12234096.html

वाराणसी : काशी की एक बेटी ने अपने सासद व प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी से पति का शव आस्ट्रेलिया से मंगाने की गुहार लगाई है। इस बाबत शनिवार को पीएम मोदी के संसदीय जनसम्पर्क कार्यालय में पत्र भेजा। जानकारी दी है कि पति की आस्ट्रेलिया में मौत हो गई है। आरोप लगाया कि वहां हो रही नस्लवादी कारणों से पति की हत्या की गई। पूरे प्रकरण की जांच की मांग की। इसके बाद परिजन महापौर रामगोपाल मोहले से भी मुलाकात की। महापौर ने विदेश मंत्री सुषमा स्वराज से वार्ता कर पूरी जानकारी दी। वहां से मृतक का पासपोर्ट समेत पूरा ब्योरा मांगा गया है। बताते हैं कि पाण्डेयघाट की रहने वाली अमृता गुप्ता के हाथ की मेंहदी अभी सूखी भी नहीं थी कि दो अप्रैल को आस्ट्रेलिया के सिडनी में टेक महेन्द्रा कंपनी में बतौर ईजीनियर कार्यरत पंकज की मौत की खबर आई। उन दोनों की शादी गत वर्ष दो दिसंबर को हुई थी। अमृता ने प्रधानमंत्री को भेजे गए पत्र में आशका जताई है कि उसके पति की मौत रेलिंग से गिरने के कारण नहीं हुई है बल्कि आस्ट्रेलिया में चल रहे नस्ली आतंकवाद की वजह से हुई है। अमृता ने इसकी जाच कराने के साथ ही पति के शव को शीघ्र भारत मंगाने के लिए प्रधानमंत्री से गुहार लगाई है।

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From all information available, Pankaj’s death was an accidental death and not due to any racist violence.

Contrary to exaggerated and mostly baseless reports of racist violence against Indians in Indian media in 2009-10, we did not, and still do not, believe we are subjected to any such thing in Australia.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/man-dies-after-falling-from-thirdfloor-balcony-in-macquarie-park-20150402-1md6vq.html http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-02/man-dies-after-third-floor-balcony-fall-macquarie-park/6366608

Police in NSW, as a rule, do a thorough investigation and submit a report to the Coroner. Post-mortem examination is also done in all such deaths. After post-mortem examination, the body is handed over to the relatives.

Indian Consulate in Sydney takes responsibility for the transport of the body of any Indian citizen to India.

I will try to seek further information in regards to the investigation from the Indian Consulate tomorrow, Monday, 6th April, 2015, and will update this post.

Our heart-felt condolences go to Pankaj’s wife and his family in India.

R. I. P. Pankaj.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney, NSW, Australia

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PS: This post has been forwarded to relevant people in Varanasi, UP, India.

    

Sign the petition for Dual Citizenship for Overseas Indians

Dual Citizenship

Please SIGN this petition below and FORWARD it to others in your network.

https://www.change.org/p/the-honorable-sri-narendra-modi-appeal-to-grant-dual-citizenship-to-overseas-indians

Please visit this Faceook page on Dual Citizenship for Overseas Indians and “Like” it. Please share it.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/IndianDualCitizenship

Indian Diaspora is requested to SIGN the petition and JOIN in the campaign.

Thank  you on behalf of Indian Dual Citizenship Campaign

Yadu Singh/Saturday/8th Nov, 2014/Sydney, Australia

indiandualcitizenship@gmail.com

http://www.Facebook.com/IndianDualCitizenship

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Opinion piece on dual citizenship in The Economic Times

Dr Yadu SinghIt’s time Indian government granted NRIs dual citizenship

October 31, 2014, 4:16 am IST in ET Commentary | India | ET

There are an estimated 25 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), people of Indian origin (PIOs) and overseas citizens of India (OCIs) spread across more than 200 countries. Cumulatively, they contributed about $70 billion in remittances to India in 2013-14. The recent changes in the PIO and OCI cards announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi are welcome.

But they do not meet the long-term demand of dual citizenship by overseas Indians. The overseas citizenship card (OCC) falls well short of genuine dual citizenship. Many of us overseas Indians have been demanding genuine dual citizenship, with full political and economic rights in India on par with the rights enjoyed by Indian citizens. Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee was right in stating in 2005: “If we want to involve the diaspora, then we can’t deny them the right to vote or the right to occupy important office.”

Overseas Indians, whether they hold Indian passports or have foreign passports, have an emotional bond with India. That holds true for a majority of people of Indian heritage. When major democratic and developed countries have no issue with dual citizenship, there can’t be a real justification for India to treat its own people unfavourably.

The promise of dual citizenship was made by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003. Since then there have been statements from senior politicians about them favouring dual citizenship. But the matter has not progressed further. Statements are not enough. The following actions should be taken: 1. Granting Indian passports (dual citizenship) to overseas citizens of Indian heritage with full rights including voting and political rights. 2. Granting of convenient voting rights to such dual passport-holding overseas Indians as well as overseas Indians with Indian passports (NRIs), which can be exercised either at the consulate, high commission or embassy premises in their country of residence and through postal or online facilities.

India should consider taking a cue from Australia’s repeal of Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 that took effect from April 2002 permitting dual citizenship.

(The author is a resident of Sydney, Australia)

http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-commentary/its-time-indian-government-granted-nris-dual-citizenship/ http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31816&articlexml=Give-Us-This-Day-Our-Dual-Citizenship-31102014015034# OPED_Oct31_CAP

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Dr Yadu Singh, Sydney, Australia/4th Nov, 2014

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Indian Australians as part of “Team Australia”!

Sydney, Thursday, 2014

Australian ParliamentPrime Minister, Tony Abbott, has rightly said recently that there is no point to migrate if people are not willing to put Australia, its interests, its values and its people first! Indian Parliament

He further said ‘You don’t migrate to this country unless you want to join our team, calling it “Team Australia”. He praised migrants for choosing to migrate to Australia, and exhorted them (migrants) to be proud of their heritage and culture.

I agree with him. I do not believe there would be many sensible people who will disagree with him.

Australia is a successful multicultural nation, just like The United States of America. Australia is our home, and we are very proud of Australia.

There is one little difference between Australia and USA, which has become quite important lately.

During 2009, when Indian students issues in Australia had saturation coverage in India, and India-Australia relations suffered, the then Federal Govt in Canberra did not deal with the issues in the most efficient way. Indian media calling Australia a racist country was not tackled properly and promptly. Australia depended solely on its diplomats to tackle it, instead of also utilising the Indian Australian community to help the Govt in dealing with it. It was well known that most of Indian Australian community did not share the views of Indian media. My friends and I made it very clear to Indian Govt and Indian media that we did not agree with their description of Australia as a racist nation. I took part in a debate “Ïs Australia a racist country?” with Daily Telegraph journalist, David Penberthy, televised in Sunrise programme of Channel 7, and wrote a Blog post “who is racist-Australia or Indian media?” https://yadusingh.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/who-is-racist-australia-or-indian-media/  Both were quite popular.

Many believe that The Rudd Govt officials should have utilized Indian Australian community prominently in dealing with exaggerated and imbalanced reporting against Australia in Indian media. They believe that things would have been easier to deal with if Indian Australians were also part of Australian Govt’s strategy to deal with it. After all, it would have been much more easier and effective if Indian media had dealt with Indian Australians here in Australia as well as in India, and heard that their description of Australia was not entirely correct.

Thankfully, things have moved on and relations between Australia and India are on the upswing. Australia and India have just concluded Uranium trade deal negotiations, and an agreement in this regard is likely to be signed when Prime Minister Tony Abbott visits New Delhi early next month.

Australia does have some people from Indian heritage in its diplomatic staff, but they are very small in numbers. Australia has not utilized the Indian Australian community in its outreach to India generally, even when this community is getting bigger by the day. Approx 500,000 people in Australia have Indian heritage. Former NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, used to rely on just one person of Indian heritage, who is his personal friend, but unfortunately did not have much to do with either India or Indian Australian community. Mr O’Farrell could have done better and taken a leaf from his counterparts from Victoria, who did, and do, include members of Victorian Indian Australian community whenever they go to India with Trade delegations. New NSW Premier, Mike Baird, has not been to India yet. Let us see, and in fact hope, whether he will be different from his predecessor in this regard.

If you compare all this with what USA is doing with similar visits to India currently, you will see that Indian Americans form prominent parts of such delegations.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/For-India-outreach-US-brings-into-play-Indian-Americans/articleshow/39785133.cms

Nisha Desai Biswal, Arun Kumar and Puneet Talwar, who are all Assistant Secretaries and are of Indian heritage, accompanied US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker and Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel respectively during their recent visits to India. Their presence certainly created quite a good amount of goodwill  and conducive atmosphere.

United States’ Presidential delegations to India have always included prominent Indian American businessmen and community leaders. This has not been the case with Australian delegations of similar nature.

It’s about time that Australian Govt leaders follow the examples set by their American counterparts, because not only it is a smart policy, but  it is lalso likely to accelerate the growth of Australia-India relations.

In addition, and as a bonus, it is also going to create a feeling that Indian Australian community is a vital part of “Team Australia”, with many potential electoral benefits to the ruling party in the area like Western suburbs of Sydney and elsewhere! 

Dr Yadu Singh

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Australia concludes Nuclear trade deal with India!

Australian FlagSydney, 21st Aug, 2014Indian Flag flying

From various news sources, it is clear that Australia has concluded Civil nuclear deal with India recently. Uranium trade between Australia and India is likely to start soon. It appears that the deal has been concluded relatively quickly after India elected its new Govt led by Mr Narendra Modi. The agreement is likely to be signed by India and Australia during Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to India in the first week of September.

Let me also point out that it was Prime Minister John Howard who announced in 2007 that Australian Govt will reverse the ban to sell Uranium to India. It changed when Kevin Rudd became the Prime Minister a few months later and reversed it. Finally, Prime Minister Julia Gillard was the one who campaigned successfully to get ALP reverse its policy to ban Uranium sale to India in Dec 2011, followed by an agreement between Australia and India to start the negotiations on the nitty gritty of the supply agreement in 2012.

I wrote about this matter a few years ago. http://tinyurl.com/7bytnbo & http://tinyurl.com/6s7d7dx

Australia-India relations are on an upswing, after having suffered a few years ago.

I and many from Indian Australian Community are very happy with the improved Australia-India relations.

Congratulations are due to Australian Govt led by Mr Tony Abbott and Indian Govt led by Mr Narendra Modi. Foreign Minister of Australia, Julie Bishop, and Indian Foreign Affairs Minister, Smt Sushma Swaraj, have also played a big role.

India is currently third in the list of countries which use nuclear energy. There are 21 nuclear reactors in India which are producing electricity but India needs to increase such electricity production, knowing electricity shortage. Currently, nuclear energy constitutes only 4% of total electricity production.

Australia has 1/3rd of the total Uranium of the world. This agreement is going to make Uranium supply to India much easier.

As usual, and in a totally predictable manner, Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam, did not like it at all, and used some arguments, which are irrelevant and dated. NPT issue is not relevant in India’s case after India was given an exemption by Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2008. Also, unlike India’s neighbours, India has never been involved in nuclear proliferation.

India is going through the discussions for Civil nuclear trade with Japan currently. Once concluded, India should be able to accelerate nuclear energy production.

Since 2005 onwards, India has already entered into civil nuclear agreements with the US, Mangolia, Namibia, Argentina, the UK, Canada, Kazakhstan and South Korea, France and Russia.  

Indian Australian community has a desire to see speedy growth in Australia India relations in all dimensions and aspects.

Dr Yadu Singh

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