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Are You a Person of Indian Origin Living Abroad?

Updated on March 25, 2016

Remittance Flow through Foreign Banks in India

Did you know that India is the world's largest diaspora at 15.6 million people? This is according to figures from the United Nations quoted by a report in Newgram.com, published on January 20, 2016. The number of Indian expatriates across the world grew from 13.2 million in 2010, exhibiting a growth of 17% in the last six years according to the data provided by the UNO. Therefore, it is only natural that the country should receive billions of dollars in remittances from its vast diaspora every year. The estimated remittance flow in 2015 was around $72 billion, making it the largest receiver of expat cash in the world. The establishment of foreign banks in India also aids in the easy remittance flow to the families of those who are based in foreign countries.

Expatriate Finances

Real Estate is the primary form of investment for most NRIs, according to research conducted by Friends Provident International, reported Gulf News on January 31, 2016. On an average, most non-resident Indians are looking to secure their future by earning 30-40 percent more than the medium income in the country and then returning to their homeland at some point. As a result, they retain a strong financial connection to the country even during their stint abroad, whether through financial investments or through remittances to dependents in the homeland. The Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999 decrees that a person of Indian origin can hold three types of NRI accounts in the country – the Non-Resident Ordinary Rupee Account (NRO Account), Non-Resident (External) Rupee Account (NRE Account) and Foreign Currency Non Resident Account (FCNR Account). In addition to this, the presence of foreign banks in India makes the transfer of funds much easier for expatriates.

Foreign Banks in India

There were 46 foreign banks with a total of 325 branches across the country as of September 30, 2015, according to the data provided by the Reserve Bank of India. The highest amount of remittance to India is said to come from the UAE, while other significant source countries are USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia and Singapore. Therefore, international banks headquartered in the following countries have established branches in India in order to facilitate the transfer of funds between the countries. The Development Bank of Singapore or DBS, has twelve branches across India, with its national headquarter in Mumbai. Other branches are found in Bangalore, Chennai, Cuddalore, Kolhapur, Kolkata, Moradabad, Pune, Nashik, Salem, Surat and New Delhi. This is indicative of the states from which there are most number of expatriates residing in Singapore. It is estimated that about 9% of the population of the country consists of people of Indian origin.

Expatriation Trends among Indians

The year 2015 marked the 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India from South Africa, which was celebrated as the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas on January 9, according to a report by The Hindu. Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in his speech at the Madison Square Garden that he would offer lifetime Indian visas to People of Indian Origin so that they could visit their homeland whenever they wished. This was a significant change in policy which would affect the expatriate experience of the nearly 2 million Indians in the country. The ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification to that effect on September 30, 2014. Moreover, while USA was one of the popular destinations for Indians seeking to fulfill their aspirations abroad, recent trends show that there has been a steady decline in the number of Indian expatriates in the country. According to the UNO, the number of Indians relocating to the US, decreased by 26% between 2005 and 2010 and by 16% between 2010 and 2015.

Therefore, not only are there many legislative changes lined up for existent expatriates, there seems to be significant changes in the trends of Indian expatriation which may hold special implications for the financial future of the country.

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