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05/29/2017

How to open a bank account in India

India,bank account,foreigner,student,tourist,expatriate,funds,repatriation,money transferA few years ago, a foreigner needed an Indian ‘sponsor’ to be able to open an account in India. Apparently things got easier and everyone can open a bank account in India (under certain conditions, of course): tourists, students, expatriates, etc.

There is a plethora of banks in India.

Private local (but good) banks:

  • HDFC - I tested
  • Axis - I tested
  • ICICI

International banks:

  • Citibank - I tested
  • HSBC

India,bank account,foreigner,student,tourist,expatriate,funds,repatriation,money transfer TOURIST

 Principle:

If you travel in India, you can open a NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) account.

You can deposit money earned abroad in India. The interest earned on this account are taxable in India. You can use this account to make payments in India.

You have to upload documents online (it takes less than an hour) and then it takes 3-4 days for the account to be activated.

Documents for an NRO tourist account:

  1. Passport
  2. Tourist visa
  3. Proof of residence in your country of origin (the Passport is apparently accepted as such, so is the driver license, or a utility bill (electricity or phone) less than 2 months old, a bank statement less than 3 months old)
  4. PAN Card, which you probably won’t have and in this case the Form 60 (here)
  5. FATCA / CRS statement (downloadable from the site of the selected bank)
  6. The CKYC Annexure (downloadable from the site of the selected bank)
  7. The Bank form
  8. 2 photos
  9. All copies self-certified

Transfer funds from your home country to an account in India:

It’s easy.

  • You can do this via your home Bank.
  • Or WesternUnion.
  • Or a Bank in India (ICICI has for example a Money2India module).
  • Or PayPal.
  • A site of transfer and Moneytis can give you a comparison of all the sites

 Repatriate funds from an NRO account to your home country (3):

You can repatriate what’s left on your account within the limit of 1 million dollars a year. Be aware, the account has to be active for a maximum period of 6 months and you must not have put any money earned in India on it (except for the interests) in order to repatriate the balance funds. If you are a tourist and you stay more than 6 months, you will have to ask special permission from the RBI (Reserve Bank of India).

 

India,bank account,foreigner,student,tourist,expatriate,funds,repatriation,money transferSTUDENTIndia,bank account,foreigner,student,tourist,expatriate,funds,repatriation,money transfer

Principle:

If you are coming to study in India, you can open a NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) student account.

You can deposit money earned in your home country or in India. The interests earned on this account are taxable in India. You can use this account to make payments in India.

You have to upload documents online (it takes less than an hour) and then it takes 3-4 days for the account to be activated.

Rule:

Within 30 days of opening the account, you must deposit at the Bank your address proof in India. Pending verification of address, you can deposit maximum $ 1,000 and withdraw maximum Rs 50,000.

Documents for an NRO account:

  1. Passport
  2. Student visa (or tourist visa with admission letter from the Institute)
  3. Proof of residence in your country of origin (the Passport is apparently accepted as such, so is the driver license, or a utility bill (electricity or phone) less than 2 months old, a bank statement less than 3 months old)
  4. PAN Card, which you probably won’t have and in this case the Form 60 (here)
  5. FATCA / CRS statement (downloadable from the site of the selected bank)
  6. The CKYC Annexure (downloadable from the site of the selected bank)
  7. The Bank form
  8. 2 photos
  9. All copies self-certified
  10. All signed copies

Transfer funds from the France (or abroad) to an account in India:

It’s easy.

  • You can do this via your home Bank.
  • Or WesternUnion.
  • Or a Bank in India (ICICI has for example a Money2India module).
  • Or PayPal.
  • A site of transfer and Moneytis can give you a comparison of all the sites

Repatriate funds from an NRO account to your home country (3):

You can repatriate what's left on your account within the limit of 1 million dollars a year. The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) doesn’t mention any maximum duration for the account to be active, but it is reasonable to assume that it is related to the duration of the visa.

 

India,bank account,foreigner,student,tourist,expatriate,funds,repatriation,money transferEXPATRIATES working in India (employment visa)

It also works for the OCI and non-working foreign residents, I assume.

You can open a Domestic account / Resident, also called a ‘Resident Individuals’ account (which may be a salary account or own account (normal current/saving account)).

Documents to open an account a Resident Individual:

  1. Passport
  2. Employment visa (they might also ask for the contract0
  3. Proof of residency (copy of the FRRO or OCI booklet)
  4. Proof of address in India
  5. PAN Card or the Form 60 (here) if you don’t have a PAN Card (though you might apply as you will need it)
  6. The Bank form
  7. 2 photos
  8. All copies self-certified

NB: The bank usually requires you to send the scan of the renewed visa every year to keep the account active. After 12 months without any transaction, the account is considered as inactive – interests continue to run but you can no longer make any transaction. It is however possible to reactivate an inactive account.

Transfer funds from your home country to an account in India:

A priori you won’t need to do it since you will be working. Otherwise the methods given above for tourists and students work!

Repatriate funds from an Indian account to your home account (3):

To repatriate funds, please note that it is highly regulated and that online transfer solutions may not work.

So you may have to go to the Bank and fill out the ‘foreign remittance’ form. You will have to have in hand the details of the account on which you want to transfer the funds (IBAN and SWIFT). You must also provide the evidence of salary (because you cannot transfer more than your net pay after all the deductions and taxes): salary slips signed (covering the amount you want to repatriate, e.g. 3 months if you want to transfer the equivalent of 3 months of net salary), or the Form 16, or a certificate from the employer.

You can also use Western Union or other agents of the same type, but I have never tried.

 

To sum-up what kind of non-resident accounts can be opened in India:

India,bank account,foreigner,student,tourist,expatriate,funds,repatriation,money transfer

India,bank account,foreigner,student,tourist,expatriate,funds,repatriation,money transfer

05/22/2017

Under the Tuscan sun

I have often heard that travelers form their first impression of the visiting country by her airport. I personally form it from her taxi drivers. For instance, you quickly get that Germans and Swiss Germans are a little tight-ass, that you don’t get to mess around with the baby seat – the rule is the rule and they don’t care that the little one cries to death after traveling for 15 hours. In this spirit, Italy felt just like home: not only did the airport taxi driver did not even mention the baby car seat (just like all the other drivers by the way) but also he shoved all the bags in the car, and the five adults including Papi at the back with Baby Samurai on his lap and the stroller falling on his head. And then he drove just like an Indian, the phone in one hand, taking tight turns. It was such a soft landing for us!

In many aspects, Italians are the ‘Indians of Europe’ or ‘white Indians’. The way they are attached to their mother and family – even though here I am just talking about their reputation, I didn’t experience it myself – seems quite similar. Quite easy going, warm and relaxed with the rules people. And the crowd in the streets of Florence, it was as bad as Old Delhi, simply suffocating! I don’t have any other generality to share about Italians, except that (almost) all we met were very friendly!

We just had one incident: as I was parking, my neighbour thought I scratched his car while I just left some dust and possibly slightly scratched the varnish but really I don't see how I was very careful and my favorite Indian was watching from outside). He was yelling “va fan culo” and other insults, becoming red-faced. My favorite Indian was remaining very calm (luckily he didn't understand Italian) and if I had not been so worried watching the reactions of my husband, I would have gone and slapped this angry fellow myself! When we left, leaving him disappointed by our very calm attitude, what do you think he did? Bah he scratched our vehicle. Brrrravo!

I loved the landscapes of Tuscany, and its steaks and ice-creams and pasta. I loved the Chianti, Montepulciano and Brunello (local wines) and hated its bread which is made without salt (an aberration).

We had decided to take it easy and spend the week moving only in Tuscany. We visited a few medieval villages that abound in the region – and they are either dead (nobody except one or two oldies on a bench) or packed with tourists – but especially at night, when we had to go hunt for food. This will definitely leave a special taste to the memory of our holidays! And then we mostly got lost on dirt roads.

India,Italy,Tuscany,AgriturismoWe would decide at the last minute about where to sleep (which would not have worked well in full season I think) and would usually end up in an Agriturismo. Beware, an Agriturismo it is not as romantic as it may sound, unlike what I had imagined. I had indeed a very picturesque view of this form of accommodation, with beautifully renovated farm buildings and where the guests can milk the cows and pick tomatoes. Well it is nothing like that! If the buildings are generally quite charming, all these are working farms. The owners are very busy during the day, and not necessarily inclined to entertain the city dweller who wants to play farmer for a day. And if it is one of these farms who use tractors, well there will be noise – you can bid farewell to the nap under the olive trees to the sound of silence! And in those where they keep animals (and we’ve not seen many in Tuscany where they are more about wine and olive oil production), well you’re not in the zoo. So better be aware.

We first spent a few days in the vineyards where my favorite Agriturismo was the 7 Camici, where you can watch the sunset over the vineyards from your natural hot pool):

India,Italy,Tuscany,Agriturismo

India,Italy,Tuscany,AgriturismoWe then landed in the South, near Grosseto, in a farmhouse with a huge plot (Tenuta San Carlo) where we could see cows, ducks and rabbits, climb discreetly on the parked tractors and ride a bike to the beach, play with the dog and our Baby Samurai was happy. So we stayed there for three nights.

India,Italy,Tuscany,AgriturismoAnd to end our trip on a high note, I booked (at the last minute and it was Easter weekend) in a Florence hotel near the airport, which seduced me with his baroque style – I found it sad to spend the last night in Italy in a Novotel or an Airbnb: the Villa Villoresi. It takes some time to get used to the very ancient house, its heavy paintings, its 80-year-old owner-manager from another time, and the ‘Butler’ who carries the suitcases in a blue jacket and serves dinner in a gray one. Our room was a tiny not-so-comfortable closet but we had been warned. In short this place is a little creepy but you can start warming up to it after 2 glasses of Chianti!

05/08/2017

About depression, suicide and other niceties

The Indian Prime Minister spoke recently about a problem (apparently independent of the lack of toilets and corruption) completely taboo and not really funny: depression.

Apparently the WHO published a report on depression in Southeast Asia in 2015 (source), then India (the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science) conducted a study published in 2016 (source).

If there was in the world in 2015 more than 300 million people suffering from depression (4.6% of the population*), 56 million lived in India (4.5% of the Indian population, right in the overall average!). To that we need to add all the other mental illnesses, which brings to 15 the percentage of adults who actually need help.

But the thing is that in India, mental conditions are hyper stigmatized**. You don't go to a shrink (that's for crazy people (maybe that’s why there are only 2 psychiatrists per million inhabitants which means there are less than 3 000 in total!)) (source)), you hide it, you ignore it. It doesn’t really help to get better.

In the same vein, there are a lot of suicides in India. On average 134 419 a year between 2010 and 2014, or 10.6 per 100,000 people (source). I won’t give a ranking of countries, it varies too much from one source of information to another, but this rate is also aligned with the global statistics of 10.7 per 100,000 people in 2015 (source). “Each year, almost 800,000 people die by committing suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of mortality in the 15-29 age group.” (source)

After talking a lot about the suicides of farmers, there is now a rising consciousness about the youth (with a suicide rate among the highest in the world according to the Lancet 2012), with nearly 9,000 students who killed themselves in 2015. The reasons stated are the pressure for academic and professional success, fear of failing and to be not good enough, as well as the difficulties to communicate with parents (source). In a society that is changing so fast, parents who sweat blood to work themselves out of poverty and expect the same of their children, joint families where communication on sensitive issues can be often silenced, a generational gap becoming abysmal between parents and children, and the social stigma, it's not easy for a lot of young people out here!

* In France, 2 to 3 million people suffer from depression, i.e. 5 to 8% (source), which puts us in the global standard with 4.5% of the population.

** “From a cultural perspective, mental disorders are associated with a considerable amount of stigma in Indian society, leading to neglect and marginalisation.Such individuals and their families face numerous challenges in daily life, both for managing the condition as well as for making them productive due to prevailing attitudes, media portrayals, societal discrimination and deprived opportunities.” (source)

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses

India,suicide,depression,mental diseases,mental illnesses