Monday, February 28, 2011


Indian capital markets have been thrown open to foreign investors in a bold move of the budget announced on 28 February 2011. This means that as an individual foreigner, you can now invest in Mutual Funds (MFs). Earlier, only Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) could invest while individual foreign investors could not.

Now individual foreigners can rake in high returns from investing in MFs. The highest returns come from MFs when compared to investing in fixed deposits or in Indian stocks. Let’s invest Rs 100,000 ($2,216 or € 1,603 at current rates) in these three options. If you put down a fixed deposit of Rs 100,000 for one year, your total amount with interest will rise to Rs 113,000 after one year and Rs 174,000 after five years. If you invest Rs 100,000 in equity, after one year your investment will more than double to Rs 226,000 and in five years, it will rise further to Rs 278,000. Now, if you invest Rs 100,000 in MFs, it will go up to Rs 176,000 after one year more than triple to Rs 358,000 after five years with less risk than equities.

So how do you invest in MFs? You need to do some initial paperwork. First, you have to obtain a PAN (Permanent Account Number) Card. Then, you need to complete ‘Know Your Customer’ or KYC procedure.

A PAN Card is required for all their financial investments over Rs 50,000 in India. The card is issued by the Income Tax department and UTI, UTIISL or NSDL ( or who are authorized to process these applications. You can download the application form at these sites. The simple form asks for your full name, residential and business address, age, nationality and the name and address of your representative in India. The proof of your name and address must be attested by the Indian Mission in your country of residence. Attach two attested photos and send it to your representative in India for processing at the addresses given on the web. Or, it can be sent through your investment broker or advisor. The fee for processing a PAN application, for dispatch outside India, is Rs.744.00.  This is composed of application fee Rs.94 (Rs.85 Processing Fee Charges + Rs.9 Service Tax) plus overseas dispatch charges.

'Know Your Customer' process is to prevent money laundering. For this process, you need to fill the KYC form at nil fees. In addition to your name, age, nationality, address, occupation and income details, the KYC form has a mandatory requirement for your PAN number and its copy. Your recent photo and proof of address is required and it must be attested by the Indian Consulate or a legal notary public in the country of your residence. The form has detailed notes that you should read carefully before filling it. The KYC approval takes from one to three months. After your PAN card and KYC, you can send your investment for Mutual Funds with a draft from your overseas account through your financial advisor, at  

India’s Budget: No Respite on Inflation Despite High Growth

You need a Ph. D. in economics and an encyclopaedia on hand to follow the top Indian economists commenting on English news channels about the impact of the Indian Budget on the common man. They freely use the latest jargon of economics and abbreviations of Indian projects (a quick sampler: AADHAR, TAGUP, GST, CRAR, RIDF, NABARD, MGNREGA, RKVY and NFSB) as if you grew up with them. Most of their discussion ranges around the changes in government expenditure and income, the state of the fiscal deficit, the concerns for subsidies, the pace of economic reforms, and so on and on. Of course, all this is meant to inform the TV viewer about how this budget will affect his personal finances, savings, taxes and inflation.
Inflation? Oh yes, food prices have gone up by over 17 per cent. What’s the government doing about it in the budget? Many new schemes and subsidies announcing for farmers and infrastructure. Don’t worry, they will bring down the prices when they are implemented.
Fuel prices? Have shot up after the Middle East uprisings to new heights. Has the government cut down its tax on fuels considering the international oil prices have topped $100 a barrel? No way.
Income Tax? Ah yes, the Income Tax exemption has gone up from Rs 160,000 to Rs 180,000 a year. Now you become a ‘senior’ tax payer when you reach 60 years instead of 65 years earlier and your tax exemption will be Rs 250,000. A new category of ‘very senior’ taxpayers, over 80 years, gets tax exemption for half a million rupees. All these tax reliefs come into effect on your next year’s income.
What’s gone up and down in prices? Up - Branded garments, air travel, air conditioned hospitalisation, Down - paper, chemicals, yarns, TVs, mobiles. Are you going to pay more for your addictions: cigarettes or liquor? No, keep puffing and drinking at the same prices.
Corruption and Black Money? A Group of Ministers has been formed to consider measures for tackling corruption. They will let you know how to curb this rot in ‘a time bound manner’.
Overall, the economy is expected to grow at around nine per cent – one of the highest rates in the world. Inflation? Higher than eight per cent. But, hold on, it will go down. 
Up to now, only Foreign Institutional Investors and NRIs could invest in Indian mutual fund schemes. Now, foreign investors who meet Know Your Client requirements can invest in mutual funds. As the Budget speech was in progress the Indian Stock market sky rocketed to over 500 points but after the speech ended, the stock market plummeted and ended with a gain of 122 points. Clearly, the budget did not provide the expected kick start for a bull run.
So what’s the response? The Prime Minister and everyone else in the government praised the Finance Minister for this budget. The opposition lashed out at it – both the sides speaking true to form. But what about the common man still suffering from high prices? He will have his say at the voting booths of five states in a few weeks. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

India Art Summit Becomes New Art Everest.

Indian art market is hot. And it sizzled at the three-day India Art Summit that ended on 23 January 2010 in New Delhi. Minor Picasso and Rodin originals – at over one a million dollars each - were exhibited and so were thousands of other artists, mostly Indian. The Summit touched new heights for Indian art. A total of 84 galleries, including 34 from many countries round the globe, came to exhibit. Galleries from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Singapore, Canada, Austria and other countries staged their artworks. Many Indian and foreign art magazines also exhibited their publications. Over 120,000 suave art lovers thronged to this mega art show triple the figure for the last year. The brainchild of a young MBA graduate, the Delhi event reached the top in just three years and dislodged Mumbai from its prime spot as an art centre.

The organiser, 31-year old Neha Kirpal, claims, “It is the single largest and the most exciting platform for art in India.” Visitors could buy art books and bric-a-brac at an art shop, right next to the VIP enclosure where the top artists and gallery owners hobnobbed with each other.

About 80 per cent of the galleries sold works, valued from $500 to over a million dollars each. About ten per cent of the exhibitors sold out all they came with. Over 120,000 art lovers paid Rs 200 (about $5) to enter the exhibition. Curators, art critics and art editors took part in a full programme of events with famous names on the world of art and sculpture like Anish Kapoor and Don Graham. Works by master painter Maqbool Fida Husain, who recently joined the million-dollar club of Indian artists, were exhibited after pulling them off initially because of possible protests from Hindu activists but later exhibited under heavy security.

India's economic boom has not only enabled Indians to buy houses and cars, but also to purchase expensive art. High income overseas Indians are also avid investors in Indian art. Modern art from India and China is being lapped up by collectors at top auctions like Southby’s and Christie’s in the art capitals of the world like Paris, London and New York.

When stock markets were booming before 2008 crash, a Mumbai auction house sold 160 works of Indian artists for $ 15.3 million. The highest bid was for the Paris-based artist S. H. Raza, whose work titled Climat went for a mind-boggling $ 1.4 million. A painting by Tyeb Mehta fetched $ 1.10 million. Now with India’s economic boom, the colour is back into Indian art. Prices are moving up again. A painting by Maqbool Fida Husain was sold for $4.4m. Saurashtra, a massive 79x79in acrylic on canvas by Syed Haidar Raza, one of India’s veteran masters, was bought for a hammer price of $3.5m.

For the new rich, showing off paintings or sculpture is a clear message that one has arrived on the scene. Of course, they acquire the services of art critics and advisors in what to invest but show off this knowledge as their own once they purchase these artworks. Whether at a corporate or an individual level, art always adds value to one’s status plus keeps on appreciating as an investment. With this new cash flowing into the art market, no wonder new art galleries are sprouting in Indian cities and the India Art Summit has become its Everest.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

An NRI Can Remit One Million Dollars from Property Sales

An NRI/PIO is allowed to send abroad up to one million dollars from the sale of property in any one financial year. This amount should be the sale proceeds of property inherited by him out of Rupee funds. This transfer is subject to production of documentary evidence in support of acquisition, inheritance or legacy of assets by the NRI, and a tax clearance or a no objection certificate from the Income Tax Authority. The one million dollar remittance can also be made from the balances held in Non Resident Ordinary Rupee Account (NRO) bank accounts.

The prices of ancestral properties left in India by emigrating NRIs have escalated beyond their belief. Thus, NRIs have developed a new and intense interest in claiming their share especially with the recession biting hard in the West. In the last few years, the ancestral home in India is valued in ‘crores’ – tens of millions of Rupees. So these amounts become very attractive for NRIs to claim and remit. No wonder, in the recent past, the Reserve Bank of India has revised the maximum amount that can be sent abroad without special permissions. However, these properties should not be agricultural land, a farm house or a plantation.

After taking a dip after the financial crisis of 2008, property prices have bounced back and how. Despite the high price rise, more and more NRIs are keen to buy properties in India. Who can buy property in India? An NRI who is a citizen of India but resident outside India; or a ‘Person of Indian Origin' (PIO). A PIO is defined as an individual (not a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sir Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal or Bhutan) who held an Indian Passport at any time, or whose father or mother or grandfather or grandmother was a citizen of India.

The laws related to immovable properties in India are complex and are not uniform from one state to another, said Rajan D. Gupta, a senior lawyer and a qualified accountant with SRGR Law Offices. “A major concern is to determine the clear and marketable title of the land under question and to ensure that the land under question is free from any encumbrances such as litigation, prior mortgages, any third party interest or rights and any governmental actions such as compulsory acquisition proceedings. Again, in case of properties, especially agricultural properties, which are owned by farming families, there are a number of family law issues which again are myriad as there are a number of religions in India and most of them have their own characteristic legal frameworks. “

“To ward off such issues and be almost certain about the legal status of the property to be acquired, it is advisable that a competent legal professional must be engaged to conduct a title check and due diligence of the property to be acquired. It is also important to engage such a professional who practices within the jurisdiction where the property is situated so that he/she is aware of the local legal compliances and issues,” he adds.

NRIs face many legal tangles about their properties in India. These relate to the purchase, transfer and ownership of property, power of attorneys, management and eviction of tenants, remittance of the sale proceeds, illegal grabbing of their properties and other related issues. Their legal cases are pending in the courts for years, indeed decades. If an NRI is fighting a case with a resident Indian, he is at a disadvantage because the Indian is no hurry while the NRI has limited time to attend to his case during his visit to India or make special trips for court appearances.

Thus, NRIs have demanded the establishment of fast track courts in different parts of India to deal with their property cases – a demand the government has been considering for some years. This issue will no doubt resurface in the forthcoming Bharatiya Pravasi Divas (PBD) next month when NRIs are cajoled to invest in India. Before investing in property, the NRIs want to see some mechanism for speedy judgments for their court cases. Special committees have been formed by GOPIO – Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin – to deal with property problems. This committee has prepared and presented many proposals to ease the suffering NRIs at the hands of real estate developers, buyers, sellers and tenants and has a data base of thousands of such cases on their records.

The problems have been highlighted; now action is awaited.

WikiLeaks Exposes, Osho Proposes Accountable World Government

The disclosures of WikiLeaks have exposed the double-faced diplomatic dealings of most nations and thus erased out international borders between nations. The diplomatic secrets are no longer secrets. WikiLeaks have shown the futility of so-called national interests that are just another name for unethical behaviour of the governments and institutions.

WikiLeaks supporters have commended it for exposing state and corporate secrets, increasing transparency, supporting freedom of the press, and enhancing democratic discourse while challenging powerful institutions. Government leaders and officials have criticized WikiLeaks for exposing classified information, harming national security, and compromising international diplomacy. Basically, WikiLeaks have given the freedom to information back to the people who want to know what their leaders are saying in public and doing in private. No wonder people have supported WikiLeaks with public rallies in many parts of the world and deluge of mails, articles and blogs on the web.

WikiLeaks disclosures have merely re-affirmed the insight of the enlightened master Osho when he proposed a world government for the entire planet, totally transparent and fully accountable to all the people all over the world for its deeds and actions. Osho’s insights on world government, politicians, control of technology and nuclear weapons, and freedom for the individual are as pertinent today as they were when he made them over two decades ago.
Osho says, "
A world government can look at the whole world as one humanity. Problems are not so much as they appear. At one time, in Russia, they had a bumper crop of wheat. Rather than giving it to the countries that were dying without food, they started burning wheat in their railway trains instead of coal. Now, those poor countries where people were dying have enough coal: if the world is one, the coal can be given to Russia, the wheat can move to the poor country.

And if there is one world, then there is no need for seventy-five percent of every nation's wealth to be wasted on nuclear weapons, on armies, on other kinds of war materials. Seventy-five percent! Humanity is living only on twenty-five percent. If there are no longer any nations, the question of war does not arise. A hundred percent of all energy, money, income becomes available to the whole world."
-Published in Osho World News Jan 2011.

Wishing You a HEALTHY 2011

Body, Mind and Soul

Wishing you a happy – even better! – a healthy new year. You cannot be happy if you are not healthy. You will find articles, advice and suggestions no end on how to become healthy. These go on endlessly about food, exercise and sleep. Hundreds of ideas and innovations are promoted with smiling photos of models brimming with energy and glowing health. So you make them your role models and follow all these regimes to eat the right foods, go to the gym, practise yoga and sleep early.
After months, if not years, of regular practice and strictly following special diets, you have a strong, immune and attractive body with rippling muscles and the right curves. Women flaunt their ‘washboard abs’ and men their ‘Six Pack Abs’ as their stomachs hug their spines and their six abdominal muscles are displayed loud and clear. Rippling biceps are a major bonus shown off in tight fitting T-shirts or tees. Thus, you look smart and attractive physically. If you can carry it all off with good looks, you can even become a model or even a film star!
But, in most cases, what use is the body beautiful put to? To flaunt one’s ego or make money. Are these so-called ‘beautiful people’ really happy? Look at their mood swings, tantrums, depression and even suicides of models and stars and it is clear that physical beauty has not brought them happiness or any balance in their lives.
So these days, mental health is also promoted with physical appearance. Popular slogans like “Think Positive’, ‘Keep Busy’ and “Be a Winner” are supposed to help you keep mentally fit. Do they really help? If just think positive, what about facing the negative? If you remain busy at all times, what about reflection and rest? If you want to win all the time, what happens when you lose? The boom promoting mental fitness is not really helping people because more and more are getting mentally ill.
And finally, what about your soul? Do you even think about it? Do you even bother about it? Aren’t you a body, mind and soul? Yes, soul too. You have no time for it now; maybe later. Spiritual fitness helps you achieve a sense of wholeness within your spiritual dimension and outlook on life. You begin to look inwards and answer the eternal questions: Who am I? How can I discover myself? How well can I face death? And so on.
The enlightened master Osho shows the way to physical, mental and spiritual health with his unique meditations. Dynamic Meditation enlivens you with vigorous exercise for your body and catharsis for your mind. Kundalini meditation literally shakes out all your stress and negative emotions and Silent Meditation brings you closer to your real being, your soul. Osho says, “Only one thing is going to remain with you: that is your witnessing, that is your watchfulness. This watchfulness is meditation.”
Go for it - for a Healthy New Year.
- Editorial in Osho World News, Jan. 2011.

Do You Have Your Real Face On Facebook?

What is the face that you present to over 500 million users on Facebook? Does your face show a smile, a grin, a smirk or a frown? Is it a happy face, a sad face, a funny face or a bold face? Is your face made up or a cover up? When you get bored with your face on Facebook, do you change it? As your face changes with your age, do you show your face as a child, a teenager, an adult or an oldie? So what is your real face? And do you have the courage to face your real face?
Initially, Facebook users make new friends, discover old friends, classmates and colleagues; and get connected to long lost relatives. What a joy to be reunited, re-connected with childhood playmates; teenage buddies and long forgotten coworkers! Frantic exchanging of messages brings you happily up-to-date with all of them. In this first dance of friendship, everything is endless spring. You become addicted to Facebook, so much so that you can’t live without it.
But it’s not all hunky-dory being on Facebook. When you get settled, the old jealousies sprout up on seeing the so-called achievements of your contacts when they post photos of their new homes, spouses, children, cars, holidays, gifts and accolades. Can you show a bold face in the face of these feats and triumphs you cannot match? Soon with subtle - and even open - ego clashes, you face problems with these new faces on Facebook. When you cannot face it at all, you go into a severe depression. Even, suicides have been reported following sour Facebook postings and relationships.
Your old flame can surface on Facebook and trigger off new fires in your existing marriage/relationship that was plodding along. Or, an imposter with an enticing, phony face lures you into an emotional or a business relationship that wounds your emotions and/or cleans out your bank balance. The offenders are so smooth that you need to have the face to ask them a rude question. But you don’t; and so you suffer horribly. Now, do you have the guts to face the Facebook? Can you preserve your normal face in the face of these disasters? Can you face up to reality? Do you have the courage to discover your real face? Or rather, your original face?
Instead of interacting on the Facebook, do you have the nerve to ask the ultimate question, "Who am I?"  Like a Zen disciple, can you ask your Master, "What is the original face?" And the Master says, "The face that you had before your parents were born." And you start meditating on that: "What is your original face?"  The Zen people say: “Find out your face, the face you had before you were born; find the  face that you will again have when you are dead.” Between birth and death, what you think is your face is just temporary, accidental.
The enlightened master Osho throws a new light on your real face. Your challenge is to start discovering it with his meditations.   – Editorial in Osho World News Feb. 2011.