Returning Indians All that you need to know

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1 Confederation of Indian Industry Returning Indians All that you need to know Knowledge Partner

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3 Table of contents Message 5 Preface 6 Executive summary 8 Introduction: all the basics, covered 10 Scope and coverage 10 Classification of returning Indians 10 Purpose of movement 11 Preparing for the move what you need to know before moving in 12 India Landscape 12 Lifestyle 12 Social security 20 Insurance schemes 21 Investment avenues 22 Taxation system in India 23 Forms of self-employment/business 31 Banking in India 32 Remittances outside India 33 Rules specific to NRI/PIO 34 Case Studies 41 Key aspects once you make your decision Welcome to India 45 Work permit and visa 45 Movable asset rules 46 Trailing tax and social security issues 47 Case studies - Tax 48 Case studies Social Security 49 Schemes for Overseas Indians 50 Central Government initiatives 50 Government of Assam 55 Government of Bihar 55 Government of Gujarat 56 Government of Karnataka 57 Government of Kerala 58 Government of Odisha 59 Government of Rajasthan 60 Appendix 61 Frequently asked questions 62 A. TAX 62 B. FEMA 64 C. SOCIAL SECURITY 66 D. IMMIGRATION 67 Useful websites 69 About Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs 70 About Confederation of Indian Industry 71 About Deloitte 72 About OIFC 73 Key contacts 74 Returning Indians All that you need to know 3

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5 Message Dear Friends, Greetings to all of you! I am pleased to know that the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) has taken the initiative to bring out a publication, which would illustrate the policies, procedures, case studies and the opportunity areas of investments into India from the perspective of Returning Indians. During my interactions with my Overseas Indian friends on various occasions, some of whom are considering moving back to India, I have felt that uprooting a family is a very complex decision. Many questions haunt their minds which city to move to, what job to take, the decision to start a business, schooling for kids and more. I hope this new publication Returning Indians - All that you need to know will address the questions of Returning Indians and prove to be a useful repository of practical information. Vayalar Ravi Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Returning Indians All that you need to know 5

6 Preface Greetings! On the occasion of the Tenth Pravasi Bhartiya Divas Convention 2012, it gives us great pleasure in bringing out Returning Indians - All that you need to know, a one point reference book for those seeking to return to India. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is the nodal Ministry for all matters relating to overseas Indians and also handles all aspects of emigration and the return of emigrants. Returning Indians are sometimes intimidated by their new surroundings and require credible support for their basic queries such as what they can bring back to India; pension and social security concerns; taxation matters; what bank accounts they can operate and more. The Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) set up by the MOIA in 2007, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), is a special purpose vehicle of the MOIA which provides facilitation services to overseas Indians, especially for their economic engagement with India. With credibility extended under the umbrella of the Government and an institutional industry chamber, coupled with the support of a network of subjectmatter experts, Indian states, Indian missions and Indian diaspora associations, the Centre addresses the queries and concerns of returning Indians, making it easy for them to return to India. I hope that returning Indians will find this reference book a useful guide in their quest for information about the regulatory and practical dimensions in India. We are grateful to Hon ble Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Shri. Vayalar Ravi, for his encouragement and guidance in bringing out this book. We also place on record our appreciation for the contribution made by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt Ltd, OIFC s knowledge partner, for this publication. Parvez Dewan Secretary, MOIA and Chairman, OIFC 6

7 Preface Greetings to all of you! Recession and uncertainties in the regions with large concentration of Indian diaspora population and emerging opportunities in India together have created a growing possibility of reverse migration. Increasingly, Indians abroad see the move to India, at this point in time, as a way to have the best of both worlds. With rapid growth and development, the basic amenities that they are used to in overseas like access to world-class healthcare, international schools, availability of global brands, high quality housing are now available in India. Work experience in India is valued, as having relevant exposure in a growing and developing country adds weightage to your resume. Adding to this, the proximity you can have with your family, relatives and friends are winning propositions. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has been privileged to incubate and support the Overseas Indian Facilitation Center (OIFC), in a Public Private Partnership mode, with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA). The OIFC has been playing a proactive and pivotal role in expanding the economic engagement of overseas Indians with India. I hope OIFC s upcoming publication Returning Indians - All that you need to know, with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt Ltd as its Knowledge Partner, will be a useful guide for those Indians who seek to return to India. Chandrajit Banerjee Director General, CII and Co-Chairman, OIFC Returning Indians All that you need to know 7

8 Executive summary With a 1.21 billion population one can safely say that there is a bit of India everywhere in the world! India has a considerable population overseas, especially in the USA, the UK, the Middle-East, Australia and Canada. Over the years, Indians have established themselves in their adopted countries and have earned respect through their hard work, dedication, achievements and contributions to society. In recent years, however, an interesting trend has emerged. The oft-heralded term of brain-drain, used to describe talented Indians migrating overseas has seen a balancing force in many overseas Indians opting to return home. India s growth story, booming opportunities along with focused liberalization measures adopted by the Government have resulted in a large number of foreign corporates setting up operations in India. The decision to move to India may be an emotional one inspired by the need to return to one s roots or a rational one, determined by career opportunities. In both circumstances, it is absolutely essential to be completely aware of the facets of the new environment that one is moving to. Returning Indians has been developed keeping all aspects that would impact an Indian wanting to return home. From the rules and regulations to softer aspects like culture, Returning Indians is the single publication that a returning Indian can refer to for guidance. The publication has been divided into four broad heads for simplicity and convenience. The first part serves as a general introduction and focuses on the scope and coverage of the publication along with definitions for NRI, OCI and a comparative analysis of the same. The second section is sub-divided into two broad chapters. The first chapter is an overview of the Indian landscape which includes lifestyle, investment avenues, taxation and banking systems. The second chapter in the second section focuses on rules specific to NRIs/ PIOs. A significant and often common area of concern relates to the social security system in India. The US, UK and many European nations, for example, have very developed social security systems in place and Indians typically have queries about the corresponding system, rules and regulations here. These have been explained and examined in this chapter. Finally made the decision to come back to India? The third section gives a preview of the significant steps that need to be taken before you can travel to India. This section will cater to your requirements once you have decided to return to India and zeroed in on your destination city. If you have spent considerable time overseas, you may have trailing issues relating to tax and social security even after you return to India. This section analyses possible issues that you may face together with detailed illustrations. The fourth and last major section of the publication is a brief narrative of the schemes and measures undertaken by the Central and OIFC partner State Governments for the welfare and growth of the overseas Indian community. We hope that you will find all the information given useful and insightful. 8

9 Indians abroad see the move to India, at this point in time, as a way to have the best of both worlds. With rapid growth and development, the basic amenities that they are used to overseas like access to world-class healthcare, international schools, availability of global brands, high quality housing are now available in India. Returning Indians All that you need to know 9

10 Introduction: all the basics, covered 1 2 If the person is in India on long term visa of more than one year, he can apply to the specified FRRO or the Joint Secretary (Foreigners) MHA 3 If the applicant is in India, he/she can apply to the specified FRRO or to the Under Secretary, OCI Cell, Citizenship Section, Foreigners Division, MHA This introduction will dovetail into all the basic details. We will discuss: our motivations to develop this publication, extent of coverage, who the intended target audience is classification categories for returning Indians Scope and coverage Returning Indians has been developed to provide information on the amenities in India, the applicable regulations and their impact, procedures/processes to be complied with and initiatives of the Government for Overseas Indians. India s growth story and availability of myriad opportunities has encouraged an increasing number of Indians settled abroad to make India home, once again. There are also an increasing number of multi-national companies who want to set-up shop in India and ensure that they leverage the tremendous opportunities in a growing economy. In all of this, the Government has played a strong role in adopting a liberal and open policy. This publication seeks to provide assistance and guidance on the various aspects that will impact you who are returning from across the globe from cultural to regulatory, from medical to social security and more. Classification of returning Indians A returning Indian can be classified into four broad buckets under immigration laws. The key features and requirements of the categories as specified under immigration laws are tabulated below 1 : Particulars Non resident Indian [NRI] Person of Indian Origin [PIO] PIO card holder Overseas Citizen of India [OCI] Definition An Indian citizen ordinarily residing outside India and holding Indian passport A person who or whose any of ancestors was an Indian national and who is presently holding another country s overseas citizenship/ nationality A person registered as a PIO card holder under MHA s scheme A person registered as Overseas Citizen of India under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 Eligibility Any person who at any time has held an Indian passport or who/either of whose parents or grandparents were born in or were permanently resident in India as defined in Government of India Act, 1935 and other territories forming part of India thereafter provided neither was at any time citizen of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka or spouse of Indian citizen or PIO Exclusion None None PIOs of all countries except Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka Procedure for registration Fees for application Permitted activities Indian citizenship None prescribed None prescribed Eligible person can apply in prescribed form with enclosures to the Indian Mission/Post in the country where he/she is ordinarily resident 2 Not applicable Not applicable `15,000 or equivalent in local currency for adults and `7,500 or equivalent in local currency for children below 18 years of age All activities are permitted Already an Indian citizen As specified in the visa As per Citizenship Act; has to reside in India for minimum 7 years before applying for citizenship All activities except mountaineering, missionary, research work and existing prohibited/restricted areas which require specific permit As per Citizenship Act; has to reside in India for minimum 7 years before applying for citizenship A foreign national who was eligible To become citizen of India on or anytime thereafter; or belonged to a territory that became part of India after and his/her children and grand children Whose country of nationality allows dual citizenship under local laws Excluding persons who were citizens of Pakistan of Bangladesh at any time PIOs of all countries except Pakistan and Bangladesh Eligible person can apply to the Indian Mission/Post in the country of citizenship or where he/she is ordinarily resident 3 US$ 275 or equivalent in local currency. US$ 25 or equivalent in local currency for PIO card holders All activities except mountaineering, missionary, research work and existing prohibited/restricted areas which require specific permit Can obtain citizenship after 5 years from the date of OCI registration provided stays in India for one year before applying for citizenship 10

11 Purpose of movement There are many reasons that could influence your decision to move to India. Why would a person move to another location? Why and when would one think of returning to his homeland? Generally, the more rational decision for movement includes career growth, increased remuneration, business opportunities and a better standard of living. India has come a long way since independence in terms of industrial development, infrastructural advancements and new avenues for growth and investment. This has resulted in increased employment opportunities besides opportunities for setting up one s own venture. On the emotional side, there are factors like the desire to be with one s family, to re-connect with one s roots and culture which encourage Indians to return. The decision to move to India may be an emotional one inspired by the need to return to one s roots or a rational one, determined by career opportunities. Returning Indian has been developed keeping all aspects that would impact an Indian wanting to return home. Increasingly, Indians abroad see the move to India, at this point in time, as a way to have the best of both worlds. With rapid growth and development, the basic amenities that they are used to at overseas location like access to world-class healthcare, international schools, global brands, high quality housing are now available in India. Work experience in India is valued, as having relevant exposure in a growing and developing country which adds a lot of weight to your resume. Further, the proximity to relatives, friends and family members will make it a winning proposition. Returning Indians All that you need to know 11

12 Preparing for the move what you need to know before moving in India Landscape Lifestyle You would need to make many adjustments while relocating to another location. Key concerns at the time of relocation would revolve around your family. Accommodation, schooling, housing, medical facilities available are typically the most important priorities when you are planning to relocate. This section focuses on the available infrastructure facilities, the prevailing cultural norms and other developments in India today. Location assessment The decision on which city in India you want to settle down in would depend on various factors, including proximity to family, career opportunities, the weather in a particular city, the infrastructure, educational needs of the children, etc. While some factors may be personal, others would be dictated by purely practical reasons such as the location of the work place. Considering that there are many Indian cities that have become cosmopolitan, deciding on a city that best suits your needs should not be too challenging. There is a significant amount of information that is easily available. This along with awareness of the developments in India overseas would help you make the right choice for you! Housing After taking a decision on the city to relocate, the next challenge is identifying suitable accommodation. A major decision that you would have to take is whether to purchase a house, or to stay in a rented property. If you are returning to India for employment, there is a high probability that the employer might take care of your housing facilities. The Indian cities are expanding breadthwise and housing projects are increasing by the minute. With property developers vying with each other to provide a myriad of facilities and benefits, you have a wide option to choose from while deciding on accommodation. From integrated townships to condominiums to bungalows, Indian cities have them all. If the type of accommodation is wide ranging, the building styles incorporating Italian/French and other European designs doesn t lag behind either. You can make a choice even before landing in India just at the click of a button since the real estate sector is omnipresent in the cyber space. 12

13 Certain rules and regulations govern the process of purchase of immovable property, which is explained further in this publication. Renting in the initial years may be a good option, while buying can be contemplated at a later stage. Schooling India has always been known for its sound education system, and many of you would want your children to be exposed to the sort of educational environment that you/your parents grew up in. The rigorous academic grounding, inculcation of values and focus on hard work is what makes the Indian education system so highly valued the world over. Overall, schooling in India involves 12 years, following the "10+2 pattern. Indian education system comprises of the following stages- pre-nursery (popularly referred to as pre-school ), Nursery, Primary, Secondary (class 9-10), Higher Secondary (class 11-12), Graduation and Post-Graduation. Some students go into a different stream after Secondary school for 3 Years, opting for technical education. Indian schools can broadly be classified into private and public schools. Private schools are run by private individuals or trusts, while Public schools are run entirely by the Government. Private schools in turn are divided into two types: recognized schools and unrecognized schools. Government schools include the central schools, the state Government schools, and municipality schools. There are a large number of Government-funded schools in India. According to a recent estimate, 80% of all schools are Government schools, making the Government the major provider of education in India. These schools often offer free education, food, uniform, etc. to students. They are affiliated either to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or the State Boards. Another category of Government-funded schools are the Kendriya Vidyalayas. The Kendriya Vidyalayas were set up to cater to the educational needs of children of transferable Central Government employees by providing a common programme of education across locations. In addition to Government schools, there are a large number of private schools in India. Most private schools are affiliated to the CBSE or the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ISCE). While the ISCE and CBSE programmes are well-recognized and respected, the recent years have seen a huge surge in schools offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme which is reputed to follow a more flexible programme and caters to the needs of the mobile population. With the recent passing of the Right to Education Act, education has become a fundamental right of all children in the age group of 6-14 years. Private pre-schools in India have become an important aspect for overall development of a child. The pre-schools prepare toddlers for kindergarten and elementary schools, and also help them interact with a world outside their homes. Supporting the pre-school stage, the Government launched the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, in The ICDS today represents one of the world s largest and most unique programmes for early childhood development. ICDS focuses on providing pre-school education and nutrition, especially to the girl child. Acknowledging the importance of skilled manpower requirement for the economic development of the country, the Government of India has accorded great importance to vocational education and training. Under the twelfth five year plan, vocational education has Returning Indians All that you need to know 13

14 received a boost with more funds being allocated for the purpose. Vocational education in India aims to develop skilled manpower through various courses to meet the requirements of mainly the unorganised sector and to instill self-employment skills. Vocational education is imparted through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), which are Government-run training organisations, and Industrial Training Centres (ITCs) which are privately-run equivalents. In addition, polytechnics provide undergraduate and postgraduate diploma courses in engineering (or technical) and other vocations. The renowned Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) personifies the glory of the Indian education system. IITs produce world class engineers and technocrats in India who serve the requirements of the industries the world over. There are fifteen IITs at present, located in Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Delhi, Gandhinagar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai, Mandi, Patna, Punjab, Rajasthan and Roorkee. IIMs are India's premier management institute. They were set up with the objective of providing world-class management education, and to assist the industry through research and consulting services. There are about thirteen IIMs located in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Indore, Shillong, Ranchi, Rohtak, Raipur, Trichy, Udaipur and Kashipur. India hence offers a vast choice of schools, colleges and professional courses. All the major schools and educational institutes in India have their own website; one can research these on the internet before moving to India, and make an informed choice beforehand, based on one s requirements. Timing for moving is also an imperative aspect. The typical academic year in Indian schools is from June to March. If you are planning to return in the middle of an academic year, you could make enquiries with the educational institutions to ensure that your child s education is not impacted. Illustrative list of recognized schools A list of some recognized schools in the major cities is given below: Bangalore Chennai Delhi Kolkata Mumbai The International School Mallya Aditi International School AirForce School National Public School Ryan International School Bishop Cotton School Vidya Niketan School Oasis International School Swaminarayan International School Canadian International School BGS International Residential School B E L School American International School Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan School DAV Senior Secondary School Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School Chettinad Vidyashram Lady Andal Venkatasubba Rao Matriculation Higher Secondary School Good Shepherd High School P.S. Senior Secondary School Chinmaya Vidyalaya Bhavan s Rajaji Vidyashram National Public School St. Johns Senior Secondary School Shri Ram School The Mother's International School Carmel Convent School Modern School Lotus Valley International Loreto Convent Delhi Public School Kothari International School GD Goenka World School Amity International School Blue Bells Tagore International Mount St. Mary s St. Xavier s Collegiate School La Martiniere School St. James School Loreto House Don Bosco School M P Birla Foundation Hr. Sec School Calcutta Boys School The Heritage School Salt Lake School Auxilium Convent Assembly of God Church The Cathedral and John Connon School Bombay International School J.B. Petiti High School Ecole Mondiale World School Podar World School Bombay Scottish School Jamna Bai Narsee School Arya Vidya Mandir Don Bosco High School SVKM International School NES International School Singapore International School Dhirubhai Ambani International School American School of Bombay 14

15 Medical Facilities The medical facilities in India are rated as one of the best in the world. The increasing paying capacity of Indians and health awareness has triggered exponential growth of very high quality healthcare service. This growth can be understood from the very fact that even for complex treatments like Cardio, India has emerged as a major destination for low-cost medical care at top international standards.medical tourism is becoming highly popular. We have appended the list of hospitals in the major cities of India for your reference. Every Indian city has Government and private hospitals. Treatment in Government hospitals is accessible to all. These hospitals provide free service to the poor, while charging low rates from others, as compared to private hospitals. Government hospitals give quality treatment at affordable prices, and these hospitals have been consistently ranked amongst the top hospitals in India, in terms of quality, especially the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) 4. India has amongst the best super speciality hospitals spread out over the entire country, both government-run as well as privately managed. Amongst the most renowned are All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh in the Government sector, as well the privately-run Apollo hospitals (with branches all over the country), Christian Medical College, Vellore, Breach Candy hospital, Mumbai, Medanta, the Medicity, Delhi and many more. Alternative medicines can often work in conjunction with conventional allopathic medicines, and Indians have been relying for centuries on treatments like Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Nature Cure treatment, yoga, Unani and many more. These medicines have increasingly found global acceptance. For many returning Indians who may seek a change from modern health care cures, India will offer vast options in the field of alternative medicines. These medicines have withstood the test of time, and offer a gentle, natural, non-aggressive path to health a path most likely followed by the NRIs parents and ancestors! One can obtain more information from the website of the Department of AYUSH dealing in traditional Indian medicine. 4 The WEEK/Hansa 2011 ranking Illustrative list of prominent hospitals in India Bangalore Chennai Delhi Kolkata Mumbai Manipal Hospital Apollo Hospital Narayana Hridayalaya St John s Medical College & Hospital Fortis Hospital Mallya Hospital Lakeside Medical Centre Apollo Hospitals MIOT Hospitals Fortis Malar Hospital Vijaya Hospital Sooriya Hospital Agarwal Eye Hospital Sankara Nethrayala Frontier Lifeline Hospital All India Institute of Medical Sciences Apollo Hospitals Escorts Heart Institute & Research Centre Max Super Speciality Hospital Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Ruby General Hospital Fortis Hospitals & Kidney Institute Peerless Hospital & B.K.Roy Research Centre Apollo Gleneagles Hospital Desun Hospital & Heart Institute The Calcutta Medical Research Institute Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre Bombay Hospital Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre Fortis Hospitals Tata Memorial Hospital Lilavati Hospital Breach Candy Hospital Returning Indians All that you need to know 15

16 Culture - India vis-à-vis the world India is now viewed as a land of opportunities and Overseas Indians are finding the need to connect with their motherland even more. The desire to return to India is cherished by a growing number of Indians settled abroad and the numbers returning to their motherland is growing every year. This relocation gives rise to the challenges of re-adjusting oneself to cultural changes in the homeland. The children, who may have been born and brought up outside India, may face a bigger challenge. Having become accustomed to a certain lifestyle abroad, adapting to a new culture - to the way people dress, dine, work and dwell in a new environment, may take time and effort. However, with globalization, adapting to new geographies has become a reasonably simpler process. Indians returning after a long gap will find remarkable changes in every sphere of life in India. In the recent past, a significant number of Indians have travelled and lived overseas, and with this increased mobility has come exposure to foreign cultures and way of life. In addition to this, access and use of the internet in India has increased phenomenally. The new-age, widely-travelled, technologically savvy Indian is not only tolerant to foreign ideas, but is keen to try out and experiment with different cuisines, clothes, cinema, languages etc. Dress The culture, religion, languages spoken and attire of the people of India are as diverse as the landscape of this vast country. Due to its diversity, India does not have just one dress, which can be called as the National Dress or Indian Dress. Each of the 28 states has its own unique way of dressing. Indian costumes are vibrant, comfortable and adaptable, according to the climate of that particular region. As anywhere else in the world, the kind of dress you wear in India would depend primarily on the occasion for which it is worn. The attire would be different depending on whether it is a social function, a marriage, a religious function, a business meeting, etc. If you are an Indian returning from the West, you would be accustomed to Western attire and may be anxious about dressing appropriately in India, keeping Indian sensibilities in mind. With globalization, western attires are becoming increasingly popular and common in India, especially amongst the younger generation. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that most of the international brands of clothing which you are accustomed to wear in your host country are easily available at the next door shopping mall! However, it is important to remember that your clothing should be respectful of the local culture. Language The principal official language of the Republic of India is Hindi, while English is the secondary official language. In addition, India accommodates a large number of regional languages as well. You, and more importantly your children, may not be used to English the way it is spoken in India, and may initially face a challenge in adapting to the accent and to the relatively formal use of the language in India. Cultural sensitivities may also need to be kept in mind, including the appropriate way to address your seniors at the India is now viewed as a land of opportunities, and overseas Indians are finding the need to connect with their motherland even more. The desire to return to India is cherished by a growing number of Indians settled abroad, and the numbers returning to their motherland is growing every year 16

17 workplace and your elders at home. A large number of multinational companies operate in India, and the work culture in these companies, including the language, may be one you are familiar and comfortable with. Many schools in India require the children to learn a second regional language, besides English. This may pose a challenge to the Overseas Indian child who would not be familiar with any such language. Indians show keen interest in learning foreign languages like French, German, Spanish, Japanese, etc. Though these languages are not commonly spoken in India, with the increase in trade with countries where these languages are spoken, the desire to learn these languages has increased, since this would open doors to global job opportunities. Festivals India celebrates a large number of festivals all across the country, throughout the year. Each of the Indian states has its own set of festivals with their unique ways of celebration. Each festival is backed by a unique story/ legend behind its evolution, stories which have been passed down from generation to generation. The tales are equally fascinating and as varied as the celebration itself. Festivals in India are occasions to celebrate with family and close friends. In addition to religious festivals, India is also home to some of the most renowned cultural festivals across the length and breadth of the country. From the Khajuraho dance festival to the Bikaner festival, from Pushkar festival to the Konark festival India can well and truly be lifetimes of rich and diverse experiences combined together. Many of you will agree that one of the greatest joys of coming back to India is the opportunity to once again participate in the revelry and joy of these festivals, with one s own. Food With changing lifestyles, a clear shift to the nuclear family system and busy work schedules, the eating habits of Indians, especially in the metros, has clearly changed. World class malls, multiplexes and shopping arcades with multinational fast food chain of restaurants are common and extremely popular. You will have the best of both worlds the food you have become accustomed to in the country you have left behind and the home cooked Indian food you so loved while growing up in India. Additionally, there are numerous international hotel chains in India the Taj group, the Oberoi group, Le Meridian group, etc. They offer world-class service that can be expected in any leading hotel in the world, coupled with warm Indian hospitality. Traffic As an Indian returning to your homeland after a hiatus, you may not be used to the volume of traffic on the roads here and may take a little while to get used to it. The volume of traffic on the Indian roads has increased exponentially in the last couple of decades though the Government is taking steps to widen roads and providing alternate routes to ease the traffic congestion. The Bandra Worli sea link, an architectural phenomenon is one such welfare measure to help Mumbaikars reduce their travel times. The Government initiative to partner with the private sector in developing and maintaining highways has met with stupendous success as is evident from the East Coast Corridor. The introduction of metro rail and air conditioned buses in the major cities has also provided an alternative to commuting driving. Public transport rail, buses, metros, etc. - remains the primary mode of transport for most of the population, and India's public transport systems are among the most heavily used in the world. The Government has recently announced the National Common Mobility Card which will facilitate cashless travel in public transport system like railways, metro rail, buses, taxi, besides toll taxes and parking. Rail transport is a commonly used mode of longdistance transportation in India. Almost all rail operations in India are handled by a state-owned organisation, i.e., the Indian Railways, Ministry of Railways. The rail network in India is one of the largest networks in the world. Many cities also have their own dedicated suburban networks to cater to commuters. India also has rail links with Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. India has some of the lowest train fares in the world and rail travel is heavily subsidised. Today, railway tickets can be booked through the internet and via mobile phones. Returning Indians All that you need to know 17

18 Buses form a very important module of public transport in Indian cities, and serve as a cheap and convenient mode of transport for all classes of society. Bus services are typically run by State Government owned transport corporations. In the recent past, various facilities have been introduced like air-conditioned buses and low-floor buses for the differently abled. Another new initiative is the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system which already exists in Pune, Delhi and Ahmedabad with new ones coming up in Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Buses go a long way in helping decongest the busy Indian roads. The first modern rapid transit in India was the Kolkata Metro, with operations starting in The Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System was introduced in The Delhi Metro in the capital city of New Delhi is the third conventional metro which began operations in The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) project changed the lives of the commuters in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi, covering every area of the Delhi NCR: Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad. It is one of the largest metro networks in the world.the Namma Metro in Bangalore is India's fourth operational rapid transit beginning operations in The main objectives of a mass rapid transport system - which are to reduce traffic on road, make passengers life easy, save their time and cost are met admirably in each of the four cities. Currently, rapid transit systems are under construction or in planning stage in several major cities of India. The Government has opened up the Indian skies to the private sector resulting in diverse players competing with each other to offer the passengers the best in rates, infrastructure and facilities. The airports in the major cities have been revamped and can compare with the best in the world. No wonder the A380s can soon be seen touching down on the Indian runways. Access to brands/shopping While you may get traffic on the way, chances are that if you have the money, you can be driving (or rather, be driven!) in latest model available of a very high-end brand of car and reach a mall where you will find options to all the international brands from a Mango, Aldo, Marks & Spencer to a Guess, Next and Jimmy Choo. And when you are tired and hungry, you can tuck into a Pizza Hut, a KFC or a McDonald s. The beauty of it is the Indian twist, where you can have a vegetarian Paneer Burger! There s also the array of ice-cream parlours offering smoothies, sorbets, ice-creams and our very own Kulfi for one to savour. Seeing familiar and recognised brands and having access to sanitised environments also adds to your comfort zone. The Performing Arts Welcome back to a rich world of music, dance, art, theatre and culture! Indian art and culture is one of the oldest in the world, and one you can be justifiably proud of. Given below are very brief outlines of Indian music, dance and other performing arts. Music Indian classical music may be categorized into two types - Carnatic (south Indian) and Hindustani (north Indian). Carnatic and Hindustani music have features in common, but their rendition and articulation are usually distinctive. Dance Dance has always played an important role in India as an integral part of worship, a career option, a pastime and as a part of theatre. Some of the well-known Indian dance forms are - Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Manipuri, Kathak, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Sattriya. These dance forms date back to many centuries and speak volumes of the country s rich cultural heritage. There are numerous institutions in India that provide training (both basic and advanced) in the various art forms. Theatre and films Indian theatre has a history going back to more than 5000 years. Indian folk theatre has an ancient and rich tradition, and is distinct to the states from where it originated - Jatra in Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, Tamasha in Maharashtra, Nautanki in Uttar Pradesh and so on. Ramlila is another important form of folk theatre in India, based on the mythological story of an epic battle between Lord Rama and the Demon Ravana, and is staged in the month of Dussera throughout India. The festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Puppetry is another very ancient form of theatre in India. The modern theatre in India is also flourising. 18

19 While theatre has been a very popular art form in India in the past, it is struggling since the arrival of television and movies. More films are made in India than any other country, and films and film music typically forms a large and very important part of an Indian person s life. India is home to some of the most exquisite handicrafts in the world. These handicrafts are showcased in various government-owned state emporiums like Lepakshi (Andhra Pradesh), Manjusha (Bengal), Rajasthali (Rajasthan), Gangotri (UP), Poompuhar, Khadi Kraft (Tamil Nadu) and many others. Cultural centers Sangeet Natak Akademi National School of Drama Sri Ram Center of Performing Arts Lalit Kala Academy Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Prithvi Theater Kalakshetra Conclusion Many of you, especially, those who have been away for many years, will find enormous changes for the better in the quality of life in India. Many facilities are of international standards, and Indian metros are fast acquiring the status of cosmopolitan international cities. Yet, while Indians have welcomed and accepted these global changes, the uniqueness in attires, festival, food etc. has been fiercely guarded and maintained to cherish the Indian culture. While taking changes in their stride, Indians seem to have abided by Rabindranath Tagore s famous philosophy (which was also admired and followed by Mahatma Gandhi): "I would let the winds of the world blow through the doors and windows of my house - but I will not be blown away." Exciting times ahead India is taking giant strides in technological advancements and striving to be up there with the best in the world. The Government is tapping the talent pools from public/private sectors towards this end. The Unique Identification Number [UID] is one such ambitious initiative that will go a long way in information gathering and e-governance. If you are from the USA, you could relate this UID to the social security number that is the key to the world of benefits. India has always been known for the depth of its scientific talent and the activities of the Indian Space Research Agency and Defence Research Organizations lend weight to this claim. Also, Indian information technology specialists have designed and developed the first indigenous tablet Aakaash that is said to be the cheapest in the world. India also has a big presence in the area of sports. If you are an avid sports fan, you will find that India has some of the finest arenas/academies today like the Budh International Circuit (for Formula 1 racing), the Pulela Gopichand Academy, the MRF Pace Foundation etc. Returning Indians All that you need to know 19

20 Social security Social security provides support to citizens in times of need unemployment, illness, disability, death and old age. The social security scheme in India covers the work-force in the organised sector and the employers either solely or jointly contribute with employees for the social security schemes. The Ministry of Labour and Employment has a social security division which mainly focuses on framing policies for social security for the workers of organized sector. Unemployment, medical and health insurance The issue of unemployment is taken care of through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) for rural area. The concern of medical help and insurance is taken care of by Employees State Insurance (ESI) for employees earning salary lower than the prescribed limit. The Workmen s Compensation Act provides compensation for industrial accidents and occupational diseases resulting in disability and death. Provident and Pension Fund The retirals are taken care of by the provident fund and pension fund contributions. The governing legislation for contribution and collection of social security is The Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act (PF Act). The social security scheme in India covers the work-force in the organized sector and the employers either solely or jointly with the employees contribute to the social security schemes. Since both the employer and employee need to contribute towards PF, we shall examine these in detail below- The PF Act is applicable to all establishments employing 20 or more employees during the year and the compliance of provisions of PF Act are mandatory for all employees earning a basic pay of `6,500 or less p.m. Where the basic pay is higher than `6,500, the employees can opt out of the scheme under certain circumstances. Under PF, a lump sum amount is available to the employee on retirement or on other contingencies arising to the employee. It is a defined contribution plan funded by monthly contributions by the employer and the employee to the fund. The fund currently earns an interest at 9.5% p.a. on the closing balance. Withdrawal of accumulations will be tax free after 5 years of contribution. In case of early withdrawal, contribution made by employer and deduction availed in the past years will be taxable. An employee can also avail loan facility against the accumulated balances for identified purposes. The pension funds make monthly sums available to the employees on retirement. Such annuity payments are funded by monthly contributions made by the employer and the Central Government. The pension amount would depend on the quantum and the period of contribution made by the employer. Monthly pension will be taxable at the progressive tax rates in the year of receipt. Contribution Under the PF scheme, the employer would have to contribute 12% of monthly pay towards social security contributions. The employee would have to make a matching contribution, though he would have an option to contribute more than 12% 5. The contributions for a domestic employee would be as follows: Employers contribution Employees contribution Pension Fund 8.33% of Pension Fund NIL monthly pay subject to a maximum of `541 or `6,500 per annum Provident Fund 12% of monthly pay less pension contribution Total 12% Total 12% Provident Fund 12% of monthly pay 5 Section 29(2) of the PF Scheme 20

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