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‘Allow NRIs to Carry More Gold to India’: Senior Official of DGJG February 11, 2019 13:13

A senior official of Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group (DGJG) on Saturday urged India to allow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to carry more gold in personal baggage capacity when traveling back which is a win-win situation for the country and its nationals. Siroya Chandra Prakash, vice-chairman of DGJG, said it would be a practical step to permit NRIs to carry more gold since it will bring down margins for the parallel trade and the yellow metal will also turn more inexpensive for the residents of India. New Delhi, as part of personal baggage, reduced carrying 10kg to 1kg for people flying to India, which is the world's largest consumer of gold. In 2018, India, the second largest bar and coin market in the world, saw annual demand falling four percent to 106.2 tonnes. The weakness of the Indian rupee pushed the gold price to Rs 31,900 per 10 grams during October, its highest level since June 2012. While gold jewelry demand also fell one percent to 598 tonnes. "For personal baggage, an NRI who lived outside India for more than 180 days continuously, could import 10 kilos of gold on the payment of duty. That has been brought down to 1 kilo," said Prakash, who is also the owner of Siroya Jewelers in Dubai. "It is very practical step for India. By increasing the allowance, the margins will go down for the parallel trade and the gold will become more affordable; today everything is streamlined and transparent. Plus, more and more people want to follow the rule of law. So, I think it is high time that the Government of India should reconsider and start charging 4-6 percent duty rather than 10 percent on carrying gold to India," Prakash said on the sidelines of a conference here on Saturday. The conference was hosted by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) - Dubai Chapter, to discuss the Indian budget. Vipul, India's Consul General in Dubai; B.R. Shetty, chairman, UAE Exchange; Mahmood Bangara, chairman, ICAI's Dubai Chapter; and Raju Menon, chairman, Kreston Menon; among others, also addressed the conference. Mahmood Bangara said considering the huge NRI remittance of about $80 billion annually, any differential taxes on NRI's may ideally be withdrawn. "Furthermore, incentives for NRI investments would facilitate higher foreign exchange inflow which will be more beneficial than the foreign direct investment," he suggested. Bangara noted that the Indian story is turning out to be an integral part of the world's story. "Indian service sector is growing rapidly with a share of about 54 percent, a positive sign of engagement of huge young population and, as many more to be employed," he added. India's consul general Vipul said India economy is good to invest in and it should remain so in the foreseeable future for NRIs and government of UAE and private businesses. "This is one country where one get best of returns." He added that the Indian economy continued its high growth path of more than 7 percent and remains the fastest growing economy among large countries globally. "We are on our way to become $5 trillion economy in the next 5 years or so." -Sowmya Sangam

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Guide to Vote in 2019 Indian General Elections If You Are Serviceman/NRI January 31, 2019 11:26

Ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in India this year, the government is making an effort to encourage voters to exercise their franchise, not only for its citizens but also for servicemen and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). As a huge chunk of votes gets wasted every election as people away from constituency could not exercise their franchise, the government is easing out the electoral registration process. The option of service vote was already available for servicemen posted abroad. But now, overseas voters can also shortly cast their votes through proxy voting if a bill which is currently still pending in Rajya Sabha is cleared this budget session. Here is a look at the process of servicemen and NRI voting in India: How to Enroll as an Overseas or NRI Voter After an NRI or person of Indian origin traces the polling station and gets the contact information of Election officers in the region, they can fill up Form 6A online on http://www.nsvp.in or from the Election Commission of India website and then upload the needed documents showing proof which can either be submitted through post or in person. Documents Required One recent passport size photograph, self-attested photocopies of the applicable pages of the passport and valid visa endorsement. As soon as the documents are submitted, for the verification process, a Booth Level Officer visits the home address mentioned in the passport and just in case of declaration for proof, it is sent to the concerned Indian Mission. The decision is and so communicated by post and through SMS, apart from which electoral rolls are also available on the ECI website under the “Overseas Electors” section. How to Vote? An NRI voter will not be issued an EPIC card and will be allowed to vote in person at the polling station on the production of original passport. The bill for proxy voting which allows NRI voters to exercise their right through e-postal ballots is yet awaiting in Rajya Sabha. Who Can Enroll as Service Voter? A person who is in the Armed Forces of India, or belongs to the Assam Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF); General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) in Border Road Organization; Central Industrial Security Force or is employed under the Indian government in a post outside the country or is a member of the Armed Police Force of a state and serving outside the state can enroll as a service voter. How to Enroll? Once the voter finds out the name of the constituency that he/she belongs to, they can fill the enrollment form, Declaration form and then submit it to the Record or Nodal officer. This will guarantee that the service voter’s spouse will be enrolled on their behalf as mentioned in the declaration. As an alternative, the serviceman can also choose to enroll as a general elector at the place of posting, if it is a peace posting. How to Vote? The Returning officer of the constituency sends the service voter the postal ballot in which the service voter can register their vote and seal the cover. The voter has to sign the declaration in Form 13A after which the Commanding officer of the unit will certify the voter’s signature which is required to be given to the Returning Officer by messenger or post. -Sowmya Sangam

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NRIs Can Now Cast Their Vote in 2019 Indian General Elections January 12, 2019 13:24

In a piece of good news for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), you can now be able to vote in the 2019 Indian general elections. Through the official website of the Election Commission of India, an NRI can register as a voter . In the website, if you click on the button titled 'Enroll as NRI voter', it takes you to a form that needs to be filled and submitted to register as a voter in the 2019 general elections. About 31 million NRIs around the world will be benefited, who are unable to cast their vote since they are no longer a resident of India. In the form, there is a list of guidelines that need to be adhered to. The form clearly states that Indians who have acquired citizenships of other countries will not be eligible. This provision has come about after a bill to amend the electoral law to allow NRIs to vote came up before the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament earlier this year. Related Content: Bill Granting Voting Rights to NRIs Blocked in Rajya Sabha Overseas Indians are currently free to cast their votes if they are physically present in the constituencies where they are registered. An official announcement on this has not been made by the authorities yet. The tenure of Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance will end on May 26, 2019, and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be held sometime around April and May. -Sowmya Sangam

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Over 5,000 Register for Indian Diaspora Conclave January 12, 2019 12:44

More than 5,000 people have been registered to take part in this year's Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) or Indian diaspora conclave to be held in Varanasi from January 21 to 23, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said on Friday. Briefing the media, Singh said while in the last PBD held in Bengaluru in 2016 only 500 people had registered till the time of a media briefing like the one on Friday, this time over 5,000 people have already registered for the event. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi will kick off the conclave with Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth as the chief guest. Related Content: PM Modi Invites Indians Living Abroad to Attend Kumbh Mela, R-Day Indian origin Members of Parliament Kanwaljit Bakshi of New Zealand and Himanshu Gulati of Norway a will be the guests of honor. The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman will be conferred on 30 individuals for their achievements and accomplishments in different fields, according to Singh. After the end of the event on January 23, the participants will be taken to Prayagraj on January 24 where they will take part in the Kumbh Mela. From there, they will be brought in special trains to New Delhi where they will witness the Republic Day on January 26, he added. -Sowmya Sangam

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MEA Address 4,189 Complaints of Abandoned Wives in Last Three Years January 04, 2019 13:26

In the past three years, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has addressed 4,189 complaints of distressed Indian women abandoned by their non-resident Indian husbands, the Rajya Sabha was told Thursday. In 2016, a total of 1,510 such complaints were addressed, while in 2017 as many as 1,498 complaints were addressed and earlier this year, till November 30, 1,181 complaints were addressed, Minister of State for the External Affairs Ministry V K Singh said in reply to a question. Singh said the government has adopted a "multi-pronged approach to give respite to the wives deserted by their NRI husbands". "The Ministry of External Affairs provides counseling, guidance, and information about legal procedures, mechanisms for serving a judicial summons on the overseas Indian husband; filing a judicial case in India, issuing Look out circulars; impounding and revocation of Indian passport of the husband to such aggrieved women," he said. The Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) Guidelines were revised in September 2017 with an intent to provide financial and legal assistance to distressed women married to NRI spouses by all Indian Missions and Posts abroad, he added. The amount of legal and financial assistance to distressed Indian women has also been increased to USD 4,000 per case, he said in a written response. "The assistance is released to the impanelled legal counsel of the applicant or Indian Community Association or Women's Organization or an NGO concerned to enable them to take necessary and appropriate steps to assist the woman in documentation and preparatory work for filing the case," he said. -Sowmya Sangam

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Indian Govt. to Bring Stringent Law on NRIs Abandoning Wives January 02, 2019 11:24

The Indian government is geared up to bring omnibus legislation that will prescribe stiff measures like the cancellation of a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) holder's Indian passport if he found to have deserted his wife. About 4,300 lawsuits of NRI men deserting their wives in India have been registered in the last three years. Under the proposed law, if an NRI husband deserts his wife and flee, a court summon published in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs website will be deemed to have been searched. And, as soon as the summon is entered as 'served' if the person fails to appear in court on the given date, his passport can be canceled and his property in India seized. The law will also make the registration of marriage mandatory within 15 working days. The Indian government has up to now canceled the passport of 33 non-resident Indians for deserting their wives. The Passport Act comprises provisions for cancellation of passport of a holder who has received a summons for a court appearance or has a warrant for his/her arrest under any law that prohibits departure from India. Thus, the new law will just formalize this for desertion of spouses by NRIs. The larger point, however, is that, while there needs to be stringent action against such abandonment, canceling passports encourages further law-breaking. To be certain, before 2011, passports were not impounded and there was little that the deserted wives could do. Nonetheless, revoking passports means the person is liable to remain underground/illegally in a foreign nation in a bid to escape the law. -Sowmya Sangam

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Bill Granting Voting Rights to NRIs Blocked in Rajya Sabha December 28, 2018 11:29

The united opposition in Rajya Sabha on Thursday blocked the much sought after a bill by the Central Government that proposes to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to allow the overseas voters to appoint proxies to cast their votes in the state assemblies and Lok Sabha elections. To their amazement, most of the opposition parties found that a bill Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was listed in the business list. In the Business Advisory committee meeting took place in the chamber of Rajya Sabha chairman, most of the leaders, including Venkaiah Naidu, opposed the ways saying treasury benches listed the proposed legislation without their consultation. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha asked the Government to discuss with the opposition on the bill and find a consensus. The opposition parties as well decided to oppose the Triple Talaq Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha if it comes to Rajya Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his most of the visit to foreign countries assured the non-Resident Indian community that they will be given voting rights for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls of the country. The Government was very keen to bring the bill before the coming Lok Sabha poll.  The bill was passed in Lok Sabha in the last monsoon session of the Parliament. Central Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad gave an argument that it would be a "momentous event" and a big opportunity was being given to NRIs. He said the constitution makers had given the right to vote to all Indians and as such the NRIs also had the right. "Let us not deride the contribution of NRIs. They have made a place for themselves by their hard work. Their commitment to India is truly remarkable," he said. Responding to the apprehension of some members that the proxy provision can be used fraudulently, he said rules will be made in such a way that if the law is flouted, it will lead to cancellation of the mandate. -Sowmya sangam

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NRIs Urge Sushma Swaraj to Alleviate Norms for Aadhaar Enrollment December 17, 2018 15:53

The Non-Resident Indian (NRI) groups expressed concern over difficulties in Aadhaar enrolment and demanded a change of law to enable every NRI, regardless of residential status, get enrolled for Aadhaar. Many NRI activists alleged that though a circular was issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), several departments still demanded Aadhaar card from NRIs to issue Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards, register property and for other essential services. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, states that only a person who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 days or more in the 12 months before the date of application is eligible for enrolment. KV Shamsudheen, chairman of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, said, "We have written to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj about issues related to Aadhaar enrolment. Two years ago, it was announced that the government would issue Aadhaar card to all NRIs. But that was not done. "The CEO of the UIDAI published a circular in which he advised all the Indian authorities not to demand Aadhaar cards from Non-Resident Indians because they were not eligible to take Aadhaar cards as per the current law." He said that despite the circular, authorities still demanded Aadhaar card from NRIs to issue PAN cards, for property registration etc. "As a result, many NRIs facing difficulties to obtain an Aadhaar card, at times, take the illegal route by bribing officials. "Other countries that have biometric identity cards, issue it to its citizens. India is the only country in the world that is issuing the identification card only to its resident citizens," added Shamsudheen. -Sowmya  

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India Revokes Passports of 33 NRIs for Abandoning Wives December 13, 2018 14:52

The Indian government has revoked passports of 33 Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) for deserting their wives, the Women and Child Development Ministry said Wednesday. The Integrated Nodal Agency (INA) up to now issued 8 Look-out-Circulars (LoCs) to absconding husbands in cases of NRI marriages. The agency, chaired by the secretary in the Women and Child Development Ministry Rakesh Srivastava, is constituted by the Ministry to deliberate on the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) to streamline the process of dealing with the cases of NRI matrimonial disputes. The 33 passports have been impounded by the External Affairs Ministry, a senior official said. The WCD Ministry has also said that a detailed proposal, including points like mandatory registration of NRI marriages within one week with penal outcomes for non-registration, would be placed before the Cabinet for its approval. Another clause includes amendments in passport rules to facilitate its cancellation for absconders, the official said. Related content: NCW Appeals MEA to Foil Ex Parte NRI Divorces "The WCD Ministry and NCW (National Commission for Women) are taking every possible step to protect women in NRI marriages. We serve as a nodal point of contact for grievances received from women on the dedicated email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. // and coordinate the redressal system," the WCD said in a tweet. The @MinistryWCD and @NCWIndia are taking every possible step to protect women in #NRImarriages. We serve as a nodal point of contact for grievances received from women on the dedicated email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. // and coordinate the redressal [email protected] — Ministry of WCD (@MinistryWCD) December 11, 2018 "The problem of women being abandoned in NRI marriages is a serious issue. For the first time, WCD Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs are providing coordinated support to women facing problems in their marriage to NRIs," the WCD said in another tweet. The problem of women being abandoned in #NRImarriages is a serious issue. For the first time, @MinistryWCD, Ministry of External Affairs @MEAIndia, and Ministry of Home Affairs are providing coordinated support to women facing problems in their marriage to NRIs. — Ministry of WCD (@MinistryWCD) December 11, 2018 -Sowmya Sangam

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Govt. to Table Bill in Winter Session to Allow NRIs to Vote December 08, 2018 11:32

A Bill to amend the electoral law to allow voting rights to the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will be tabled in Rajya Sabha in the upcoming winter session, the Central government on Friday told the Supreme Court. The Lok Sabha had earlier passed the bill on August 9. Once the Bill is passed and enacted, more than 25 million overseas Indians/NRIs will be able to vote through postal or e-ballots. A division bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta slated the hearing for January 2019 after hearing the submission of Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni.  The court was hearing the petitions filed by two NRIs, Shamsheer VP from Kerala and Nagender Chindam, chairman of the United Kingdom-based Pravasi Bharat.  The petitions said 114 countries, including 20 in Asia, have adopted external voting, which could be held by setting up polling booths at diplomatic missions or through postal, proxy or electronic voting. Currently, only defense personnel are permitted to vote through a proxy. However, the facility for the NRIs will not be the same as that enjoyed by the services personnel. According to the proposal, the NRI voters will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election and one person can act as a proxy for only one overseas voter. Due to the high travel cost and time involved, only a few NRIs come to India to cast their votes.  In July earlier this year, Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the court that NRIs could not be allowed to vote by merely changing the rules made under the Representation of People Act and a Bill was needed to be introduced. The court had asked the Centre to make a decision whether it would amend the electoral law or rules to permit NRIs to vote by postal or e-ballots in the polls in the country.  The court took note of the fact that the Centre and the Election Commission were complying to the report of a panel that NRIs might be allowed to vote. By Sowmya Sangam

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Telangana Assembly Elections: NRIs in Drive to Ensure Their Party Wins December 05, 2018 12:12

The Telangana Assembly Elections is scheduled to take place on December 07, 2018, and Telangana people across the world are absolutely making an effort to ensure that their political party is successful. Related content: Telangana Polls: Reasons Why It Won't Be a Cakewalk Win for TRS During the T20 finals in Sydney between India and Australia on Tuesday, a placard painted in green read: "Vote for AIMIM. Vote For Kite. Best wishes from Kangaroo Developers and Builders. Branches in Hyderabad, India, and Sydney." Telangana diaspora's growing interest in the politics of the state is plainly evident from the message. NRI (Non-Resident Indian) supporters of all major parties, including the TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), are doing their bit for imminent Telangana assembly elections. Related content: KCR Scared of PM Modi Because of His Corruption: Rahul Gandhi Placards supporting TRS, too, were spotted during some matches in Australia. The TRS recently launched its NRI campaign with a core people from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware attending its first meeting. Its coordinator, Mahesh Bigala, spoke about the State government's development activities. A few days back, the TRS campaign "war room" in Denmark was launched through Skype.  Many BJP supporters from the United States of America also voiced their support for the party. "We will work for the development of Telangana the way PM Modi developed the BJP without corruption, nepotism and without discrimination," Krishna, a resident of New Jersey said. Related content: PM Modi Pours Scorn on TRS Government at His First Rally in Telangana A Telugu from Texas Express got in touch with urged Telanganites to vote for the BJP and to help it win by a big margin. The diaspora's most creative campaign, up to now, was done by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabian leg of the AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) party. They organized 'Asaduddin Owaisi Football Cup' in Jeddah. A supporter said: "The event was prepared with the intention of supporting our community and strengthening the party in the elections." -Sowmya Sangam

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Indian Woman Sets World Record in Arctic Expedition December 04, 2018 13:07

An Indian-origin woman has made the country proud by setting a record for or completing a winter expedition in the Arctic Circle, along with her two children. The 45-year-old Bharulata Patel Kamble accomplished this feat while undergoing treatment for cancer. The United Kingdom-based Bharulata's children - 13-year-old Priyam and 10-year-old Aarush - also set the record for being the first Indian-origin children to have hoisted the Indian tricolor in the Arctic Circle.  ImageSource: Mumbai Mirror Bharulata began her expedition two months after she underwent a life-changing cancer surgery. The courageous woman drove with her kids without any backup crew or vehicle. The journey was not easygoing as the trio faced galore challenges on their way to the Arctic Circle. Driving more than 10,000 kilometers in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celcius in a region that only receives few hours of daylight, Bharulata proved nothing is impossible. The trio traveled through, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland before heading to Nordkapp in Norway. They started for the Arctic Circle from the iconic Santa Claus village Rovaniemi in Finland. Bharulata proved to be a very skilled driver as she moved through difficult hilly roads with extreme weather conditions. On their way to the Arctic Circle, the snow and wind storm made their journey more difficult. This was not the first time Bharulata visited Nordkapp. Earlier, she successfully drove solo through the Arctic Circle in 2016. She then traveled through 32 countries and covered a distance of 35,383 kilometers. She was also the first Indian woman to have hoisted the Indian flag in the Arctic Circle in 2016. Love for India Bharulata's journey was also about spreading awareness about cancer to promoting the Indian government's Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. This expedition was also likely the among the first such plastic-free expeditions. ImageSource: www.bharulata.com And all this for their love for India! Their aim was to hoist the Indian national flag at Nordkapp. Bharulata, along with her children reached Nordkapp, but faced the Arctic windstorm, with the winds as fast as the speed of 20 meters per second. After waiting with patience for two days for the weather to settle, the trio hoisted the Indian flag and sang the national anthem. -Sowmya Sangam

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