NRI deposits rise while home and education loans fall

Attractive interest rates offered to NRIs along with high rupee against dollar spurred the NRI deposits in the second quarter of 2014-15. The NRI deposits increased by Rs 12,187 crore during July – September 2014. According to the State Level Bankers’ Committee report for second quarter of FY15, NRI deposits in Gujarat stood at Rs 59,612 crore – forming 13.08 per cent of the total deposits in as of September 2014 against Rs 47,445 crore (10.86 per cent) as of June 2014. “The positive sentiments have converted into physical money leading to high deposits. NRIs are depositing money at the time when rupee is at high which when comes down will result in more dollars for them,” said Aspy Bharucha, analyst. 


Due to slowdown in real estate and higher interest rates, demand for home loans saw a drop of 15.2 per cent in second quarter in 2014-15 compared to same period in 2013-14 as less people applied for home loans. Home loans worth Rs 1997.28 crore were granted to 18,907 beneficiaries during July-September 2014 under Direct Housing Finance compared to disbursement of Rs 2125.04 crore of loan to 22,299 beneficiaries in the same period in 2013-14. 


The request for education loans dropped by more than 50 per cent in second quarter of 2014-15 compared to same period in last year. Banks have disbursed education loans to 3,620 students to the tune of Rs 75.87 crore during July- September 2014 compared to Rs 137.64 crore disbursed to 7,336 beneficiaries in same period in 2013-14.

Congress says Modi an NRI PM

Though Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee did not attend a rally organised by her party in Kolkata on Monday, her nephew and party MLA Abhishek Banerjee compared her to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that West Bengal has got an austere chief minister as opposed to an “NRI (Non-Resident Indian) PM”.

“The PM has become an NRI PM. He has become the foreign minister. He drives in a fancy car. Mamata Banerjee has been working hard. She wears chappals and a cheap saree,” Banerjee said, a day after BJP president Amit Shah held a rally in Kolkata and dared the West Bengal chief minister to stop the BJP in her state.

On Mamata’s absence at the rally on Monday, her nephew Banerjee said, “You don’t need to get a royal Bengal tiger to fight a mouse.” Before the rally, he said his aunt does not want to counter Shah personally since she thinks “he is not of her stature”.

Launching a scathing attack on Trinamool Congress over a host of issues including Burdwan blast and Saradha scam, Shah had on Sunday said the countdown for the departure of the Mamata Banerjee government had begun. He also accused Mamata of “shielding the Saradha scamsters and harbouring terrorists”.

At the Monday rally, Trinamool leader and state minister Subrata Mukherjee rubbished Shah’s allegations. “I have not seen Gandhi. I have seen Mamata Banerjee. She pays for her tea and rides her own car,” he said. “Amit Shah said didi 33 times. If he had said Jai Shri Ram as many times, he would’ve met Ram,” Mukherjee said.

The Trinamool Congress refused to attach much importance to Shah’s rally and described it as a grand flop show with poor attendance. “Such a meeting is organised by our block presidents,” TMC Secretary-General Partha Chatterjee said. The party also alleged that the BJP was using the CBI and the NIA in the Saradha chit fund scam for political purposes.

India, Australia share “special bond”: Modi

Earlier in the day, Mr. Modi also unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Brisbane in his first bilateral engagement.

Highlighting that India and Australia share a “special bond”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said relations between countries can prosper fully if states and cities are involved in international engagements.

Starting his bilateral visit to Australia on Sunday from Brisbane, Mr. Modi said that in the India-Australia partnership, Queensland had been at forefront for its contribution in powering India with its resources and research.

“We truly welcome the engagement between states and cities. That is why I am also very keen to involve states in India in our international engagements,” Mr. Modi said at a reception held here in his honour by Campbell Newman, premier of the Australian state of Queensland.

“Brisbane has emerged as centre of advanced technology. Hyderabad is known as Cyberabad. It is natural that two cities have sister-relationship. Relations between countries can prosper fully if we truly bring the engagement between states and cities,” Mr. Modi said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Modi also unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Brisbane in his first bilateral engagement.

“There is a special bond between India and Australia. This is a symbol of values we share, the ideals we aspire to and the world we wish to build,” he said in reference to Gandhi’s statue.

Mr. Modi lauded the partnership between India and Queensland in sectors ranging from technology and research to supplying resources to India.

“Several Queensland business delegations are visiting India this year. It has emerged as major source of resources to power India’s development. It is also a major destination for Indian investment. You have supported partnership in education and skills. Queensland research universities are collaborating closely with India,” Mr. Modi said.

“The credit for the strong partnership goes to Premier Campbell Newman and Lord Mayor. Your mission to India is very productive and brought businesses and our people closer,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the gathering before unveiling the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Roma Street Parklands in Brisbane on Sunday.

The Prime Minister also said this is the time to forge partnership with India because of the “welcoming environment”.

“This is an exciting moment in Indian filled with optimism and desire for change and confidence to achieve it driven by the energy and enterprise of our youth.

“This is time to forge partnership in India. You will find a welcoming environment that makes it possible and smooth,” Mr. Modi said.

“Joint research (between India and research institutes in Queensland) will help farmers in dry areas and contribute to food security in India. Queensland fruits and vegetables are really good. There is a lot of potential to work together,” Mr. Modi said, adding that Queensland and India can learn a lot from each other in field of tourism.

Emphasising the role of Indian diaspora in strengthening the relationship between the two countries, the Prime Minister said, “They breed friendship and understanding” between the two countries.

He also congratulated Brisbane for hosting the G20 Summit.

“You did and outstanding job. I know you have often lived in the shadow of Melbourne and Sydney. This week you have shown the world what a great city and host you are,” Mr. Modi said.

Deepavali Fair 2014 at Parramatta Park Sydney Australia

Thousands of people gathered at Parramatta park to celebrate Diwali festival on 19/OCT/2014 from 11.00AM – 9.00PM.

The Indian Festival of Lights, is the most widely celebrated festival of the people from the Indian sub-continent and across the whole world. Deepavali means rows of lights, it is the festival symbolising victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.

Though there are many mythological explanations to this wonderful festival, however, in the current world what the festival of lights really stands for is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friend ship, religious tolerance, spreading the word of peace and harmony and above all, celebration of “simple joys of life”.

NRIs investing in India should be given dual citizenship: Paul

NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has called for granting Indian passports to expatriates who invest a certain minimum amount in industries in India and help ignite the engine of economic growth.

“We now have a one-party government (in India), and a prime minister who appears determined to make Indian expatriates feel welcome in their homeland. Encouraging expatriate involvement could help ignite the engine of economic growth,” Lord Paul said while speaking at the 14thLondon Global Convention on Corporate Governance and Sustainability.

In his address at the event organised here by the Institute of Directors India, he emphasised that for too long India has been burdened with an old, cosy, family-and- favourites, under-the-table style of doing and managing business.

“For the first time I now have confidence that that is going to change. Symbolic gestures are also very important. I hope the next step will be to grant expats an Indian passport. If not for all of them, then surely for those who invest a certain minimum amount of money to set up industries in India,” Paul, the Chairman of the Caparo Group, said yesterday.

“It would probably be too late to be of any benefit to me, but it will certainly help and encourage the younger generation of entrepreneurs,” said Paul, who was one of the first NRIs to invest in India substantially in the 1980s.

Paul highlighted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to end corruption and end the illicit flow of funds which are a “disgrace to a proud nation”.

“We have a mature and very experienced President (Pranab Mukherjee), having held every important portfolio; a deeply committed Prime Minister, and a Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) who is widely regarded as highly competent. All of them are determined to make India a fairer society, and secure for the nation its due place in the world,” he said.

Noting that their efforts have generated high hopes, Paul said, “For the first time in a long while, these expectations appear to be within reach.”

He stated that if these expectations are to be realised, a few basic changes are needed and India has to simplify the rules and make sure that all inward investment whether in infrastructure, business, health, education, research etc conforms to those rules.
“When it does not, it must be disallowed,” Paul said.
Investment that enriches itself but does little or nothing for society does nothing for India today, he said.

NRI billionaire entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava to give Rs 500 crore for Uttarakhand’s development

NRI billionaire entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava, one of the few Indians to sign the ‘The Giving Pledge’, is set to announce a plan to give Rs 500 crore over six years for a development programme in Uttarakhand.

Bhargava, who is one of the richest Indians in America, has already given more than Rs 300 crore to over 151 organisations across India, with 406 completed or ongoing projects in the areas of healthcare, education, disability, livelihood, water and sanitation, in the past five years, through The Hans Foundation (THF).

The foundation will on Tuesday announce the Rs 500-crore ‘investment’ in Uttarakhand 2020, a comprehensive statewide development programme focusing on disease prevention, child education and forest regeneration in Uttarakhand.

“We have created pockets of change in each of the 25 states where THF has worked. We are now pooling the best of what we have learned and scaling it up in Uttarakhand,” says Bhargava.

“By the year 2020, we aim to create a massive change across Uttarakhand in one of the nation’s most powerful village development programmes,” says Bhargava, who has visited India regularly in the past five years.

Bhargava is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder & CEO of Living Essentials, which sells ‘5-hour Energy’ shots. Retail sales are estimated to be in the vicinity of $1 billion.

Early in his life, Bhargava did a variety of jobs and worked as a construction labourer, construction cleaning contractor, accounting clerk, taxi driver, printing press operator and business manager before he became a billionaire entrepreneur riding on the success of Living Essentials.

His foundation chose Uttarakhand as “it is the cradle of Indian civilisation, and a place most in need of large-scale development initiatives”. The project is designed to significantly improve the quality of life of the low-income communities of the state.

Energy, water and health are the most critical elements for people, says Bhargava, adding, “Charity is very difficult to do right. Thinking through what people need: You can’t start a charity without that. It’s like starting a business without the product.”

The Hans Foundation is a charitable trust fund that was created in 2009 to provide a source of endowment for not-for-profit organisations in India. As one of India’s largest funds, THF provides grants and financial aid to grassroots organisations that are able to directly serve communities and also partners with larger international organisations for increased impact and large-scale work. Till August 2014, the foundation worked with partners to impact the lives of close to 600,000 people.

Bhargava’s foundations include Knowledge Medical Charitable Trust and Rural India Charitable Trust. Both have funded medical research in the US and over 400 charities in India. Two of the major initiatives are hospitals for the poor and education for disadvantaged women in rural areas.

Modi to visit Australia after G-20 summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he would visit Australia on a bilateral visit in November after the G-20 summit. This will be an Indian PM’s first bilateral visit to Australia since 1986, when Rajiv Gandhi went there.

The two countries have also decided to hold a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015, besides exploring the possibility of jointly commemorating the World War I. On behalf of the PM of New Zealand, Australian PM Tony Abbott also extended an invitation to attend the commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of Gallipoli in 2015.

As they committed to strengthening their defence and security partnership, the two PMs welcomed growing cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism, cyber policy, transnational crime, disarmament and non-proliferation, humanitarian assistance, disaster management and peacekeeping. They called for deepening the framework of defence and security cooperation to guide the bilateral engagement in these and other priority areas.
“The prime ministers welcomed preparations for the inaugural bilateral maritime exercise to be held in 2015 and initiatives under way to further strengthen defence cooperation, including closer engagement and cooperation in defence science and industry,” the joint statement said.
Noting that both Australians and Indians have been victims of terrorism, the two PMs commended the work of the joint working group on Counter-Terrorism, including discussions on cyber security and the growing collaboration against the threat posed by terrorist groups. They also noted the ongoing cooperation in combating illegal migration.

The two PMs also welcomed discussions on maritime security in the ongoing disarmament and non-proliferation dialogue held at the official level.

India and Australia: Ties that bind – 2014

Australia and India have always been comfortable in each other’s presence. We share a democratic heritage, the same language and have stood side by side through the global conflicts of the last century. Surprisingly, despite the deep ties that bind, we are not as close as we should be. My visit to India reflects Australia’s desire for India to be in the first rank of Australia’s relations.

India is a democratic superpower and we are bound together by strongly convergent interests. We are both countries situated in the most dynamic region on the planet, where the centre of economic and strategic gravity is shifting to the Indo-Pacific.

India is at the heart of this extraordinary change. I first visited India as a 23-year-old and spent time travelling around this amazing country: through Mumbai, Rajasthan, Delhi, Kashmir and then Bihar.

The nation I saw then has been transformed.

India has lifted hundreds of millions into the middle class, creating new opportunities, better lives and expanding horizons for countless people. This is an inspiration to the world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a powerful mandate this year to build on this record of achievement. At its core is a focus on economic growth, jobs and skills.

I know what he means because this is my focus for Australia. That is why I say “Australia is open for business” and Prime Minister Modi says, “Come. Make in India.”

As Chair of the G20 this year, I have made economic growth and growth creation the key themes of our deliberations and efforts.

International trade and investment enriches our people and helps build our nations. Australia and India have seen this across almost every field of economic endeavour.

Australian resources like coal, LNG and uranium will help provide India’s energy security for decades to come. I welcome our conclusion of a bilateral Civil Nuclear Agreement which will support India’s energy needs.

Our resources are fuelling India’s prosperity, just as India buying our resources and investing in our resources sector is supporting Australian growth and jobs. This is why I was particularly pleased by my government’s recent approval of the Adani Group’s development of the Carmichael coal deposit in Queensland. This mine will be one of the largest in the world.

Providing high-quality education

One of the highest priorities of any government is to provide accessible and quality education. Australia and India have decades of cooperation in supporting stronger education for our people. Half of Australia’s universities have a presence in India. Last year, 36,000 Indian students came to study in Australia, with a 15 per cent rise in applications this year.

Our skills providers are active in India, working to help meet Prime Minister Modi’s focus on vocational skills training for hundreds of millions of young Indians. I am committed to strengthening this positive trajectory.

We cannot forget that many Indian and Australian livelihoods remain in farming, and that food security remains a pressing concern for India. Australia’s world-class agricultural sector can support India all the way from better crop and herd productivity to storage and transport, cold chain supply, food-processing and retail.

Improving infrastructure

Mr. Modi and I both refer to ourselves as Prime Ministers for infrastructure. My government will spend tens of billions to expand Australia’s economic horizons. Similar spending is to occur in India.

From construction companies to city and system design, green technologies and financing, this presents our companies with significant opportunities in each other’s countries. With the third largest funds under management in the world, Australia can become a financing powerhouse for India.

Opportunities also exist in health, Information Technology, biotechnology and other sectors. It has never been a better time for bilateral trade and investment. India is already Australia’s fifth largest export market. I aim to improve this, for both sides.

As we are all aware, the shift of economic weight to the Indo-Pacific region is accompanied by strategic change. Here too, on strategic and security matters, Australian and Indian interests are converging as never before, namely, to protect and promote the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.

I pay tribute to India’s leadership in this in the Indian Ocean, and to India’s strengthening “Look East” policy as was evident in Prime Minister Modi’s successful visit to Japan.

In this endeavour, we are not alone. Australia and India have shared interests in continued U.S. engagement in the region, just as we both do in China which makes a positive contribution to stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

As our partnership grows because of this new strategic dynamic, so will our security and defence cooperation — which is why I am pleased by our agreement for regular navy-to-navy exercises, given the growing importance of the maritime sphere.

Ultimately, what all relationships amount to is how our people interact with one another. Over 4,00,000 people of Indian heritage now live in Australia and India is our largest source of migrants. Last year nearly 2,00,000 Indians visited Australia and a similar number of Australians went to India. We welcome tens of thousands of Indian students and will send more Australians your way.

It is the bonds of our people that will bring us closer than ever and it is these bonds that I will celebrate and encourage during my visit.

(Tony Abbott is on a two-day visit to India.)

Alessandro Del Piero to sign for Indian Super League side Delhi Dynamos

From the A-League to the ISL: Alessandro Del Piero.

From the A-League to the ISL: Alessandro Del Piero. Photo: Getty Images

From the A-League to the ISL: Alessandro Del Piero. Photo: Getty Images
Italian World Cup winner and former Sydney FC player Alessandro Del Piero was set to be unveiled as the Indian Super League’s (ISL) latest marquee signing on Thursday as organisers spoke of sparking a football revolution in the cricket-mad country.
Reports said the 39-year-old had agreed to play for the Delhi Dynamos in the 10-week tournament which begins in October and has been modelled along the lines of cricket’s cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).

Del Piero’s signing was expected to be confirmed later on Thursday by ISL organisers, who have already persuaded former French star David Trezeguet and ex-England goalkeeper David James to sign up.

Eight city-based teams are due to take part in the tournament from October 12 to December 20. Several franchises have tie-ups with European football giants such as La Liga champions Atletico Madrid who are the co-owners of Atletico Kolkata.

While India are only 150th in the world rankings, football draws big crowds in some parts of the country – particularly the east – and has been dubbed the game’s sleeping giant by world governing body FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The English Premier League draws big TV audiences and team owners are hoping to replicate the success of the IPL.
Organised by the All India Football Federation, the ISL is being backed by India’s Reliance Industries, which is controlled by the country’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, and by sports management giant IMG.

“The Indian Super League is an initiative that aims to revolutionise football in this country,” Mukesh Ambani’s wife Nita, who chairs the organising committee, told The Times of India.

“We are a nation of billion-plus but, today, most Indian fans – including my own two sons – only talk of EPL, La Liga or the Arsenals of the world. We are hoping to build a system to nurture talent and make our own national football heroes.
“We all are very excited. However, I must say that these are initial years and we are taking baby steps. The road ahead is long before we take football to its deserving place in Indian sport.”

Retired cricket greats, including Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, are among celebrities promoting the tournament while several Bollywood stars are also fronting franchises.

While most attention is on ageing foreign stars, at least five of each team’s starting line-up must be Indian.
Although some top Indian players have agreed to ISL deals, national captain Sunil Chhetri is among several internationals who have so far declined to join the league.

Although the eight-month I-League has suspended matches during the ISL, several owners are opposed to the new tournament, saying it risks undermining grassroots football.

A long throw from Indian talent show to US baseball

The new film Million Dollar Arm is a dramatisation of one of the most unlikely stories in the history of professional sport. On the hunt for the next baseball star, a maverick agent turned his back on American talent – the traditional pipeline for the Major League – and devised a TV contest to unearth a star pitcher in India, a country famously obsessed with cricket.

Acting on a hunch that a fast bowler could be turned into a fast pitcher, JB Bernstein, played by Jon Hamm in the film, ended up unearthing two talents – neither of whom had ever heard of baseball – and won them both contracts with the Major League team the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the first time Indian men had been signed by a professional sports side in the US.

The son of a successful toy industry executive from Huntington, Long Island, Jeff Bernstein is an adman-turned-sports marketing agent. Over a high-octane career he has built up a roster of elite clients, many of whom he has made rich via endorsements, personal appearances and merchandise sales. His most famous client, until now, was the baseball star Barry Bonds, who hit a record-breaking 762 home runs but had his reputation tarnished by a doping scandal in 2003.

Disillusioned with his job after a fruitless two-year courtship of a college football player (who told Bernstein he would sign a contract only if the agent gave him $1 million in a duffel bag) he found himself watching the basketball player Yao Ming on television one night.
Yao, the first Chinese athlete to enjoy major success with an American professional sports team, had an enormous fan base in his native country and was making around $50 million a year. He had also made his agent extremely wealthy. “Could I replicate the same success?” wondered Bernstein.

Later that night, the sports channel ESPN aired a cricket match in India. According to the statistics on screen, some of the bowlers were delivering balls at 93mph and, as Bernstein, 46, puts it in a memoir published to coincide with the release of the film, “a lightbulb went off”.

“What if I could tap into the undiscovered talent in India, import it to this country and translate it into a great baseball pitcher?” he asked himself. The next question was how to unearth this talent, but Bernstein thought he had the answer: an American Idol-style television show aimed at finding the contestant with the strongest throwing arm in India.

Within a few days, he had discussed his idea with two Californian venture capitalists and, six months later, they had a format for the show and a title (Bernstein had also, in the meantime, learnt conversational Hindi). The programme would offer $1 million to anyone who could throw three consecutive balls at more than 90mph. It would be called Million Dollar Arm.

The show, which aired for the first time on the Indian cable and satellite channel Zee TV in 2007, was a huge success, attracting more than 38,000 contestants. Oddly, while almost every contestant was a cricketer, both the winner, Rinku Singh, 19, and the runner-up, Dinesh Patel, also 19, were javelin throwers. Neither was able to win the $1 million prize for throwing three balls at 90mph, but Singh got $100,000 for coming first and Patel got $5000 – significant sums for two young men from rural Uttar Pradesh. As part of their prize, they were invited to move to the US and try to break into professional baseball.

On arrival in Los Angeles, Bernstein moved Singh and Patel into his apartment and persuaded Tom House, a pitching guru at the University of Southern California, to take on the young men. House embraced the challenge. Most pitchers train for two to three hours a day; Singh and Patel worked for six to seven. House put them in motion-capture suits to assess their mechanics and set out a protein-intensive diet. “They went from eating 25g of protein a day to 300g,” Bernstein says. The effect was startling: Singh went from 6ft 2in and 180lb to 6ft 4in and 220lb.

By the time of their professional trials, both were pitching fast and, although they failed to impress scouts at the first time of asking, a second trial was a success. The Pittsburgh Pirates offered them both professional contracts, with a $10,000 signing-on bonus each.
Although Patel had a good first year in the minor leagues, he struggled in his second and was let go. He is now back in India studying to be a teacher. Singh has had more success. He is still on the Pirates’ books, but for the past two years has struggled with injury.

Bernstein is keeping the faith. “I think he’s got a great chance of breaking into the major leagues. He’s aching to get back on the mound. I still think Rinku is very likely to be the first Indian male to play a professional team sport in the US. His arm is still young and he has great desire.”