Study India Programme (SIP) for NRIs and PIOs

Study India Programme (SIP) for Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin

The Study India Programme (SIP) is sponsored by the Government of India – The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. The program invites the youth of Indian diaspora living abroad. Think of it as a summer school course in an Indian University, a lot different social experience compared to America or Europe.  The foreign citizens of Indian origin in the age-group of 18-26 years can apply and qualify for the short term courses that familiarize them with the Indian art, culture, heritage, history, emerging economy and overall development of India. Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs websites states, “Such short term courses shall aim at providing an opportunity to the overseas Indian youth to better understand and appreciate contemporary India, foster closer ties with the land of their ancestors and enhance their engagement with India.” Continue reading “Study India Programme (SIP) for NRIs and PIOs”

Just a job

“You can easily find an Engineering job in your field in America… no problem for a smart guy like you…”
“There is no shortage of work for Indian Engineers…this is just the fact…”
“You will find something – something good, no problem….”
….. Back home in India, just like any typical Indian family, everybody was full of advice. Everyone had told him that it was very easy to get an engineering job in America.

“You can make lots of money in a few years”, His future father-in-law told him at the time of his engagement 3 years ago. A year after that, he was married to Anu.
He used to be very optimistic about his career in USA, so was the rest of his American family – his in-laws.

He had big dream. After all, nobody dreams small.

Once in US, he was greeted by his wife and her family and they welcome him into their home. His old classmates, now living within driving distance, came to visit him.
He was treated like a guest for many months. However, he soon realized, you cannot be a guest for too long. He had to figure out the next step – the job. With all the expenses and cost of living, he needed a job soon. His parents and siblings back home were already calling to check on him; to see when he might send them some money, like every other NRI does.

After a few months, the tone of the advice changed:
“You just need to try a bit harder, maybe try something in lower pay scale to gain some experience…”
“Find a way to get your foot in the door…”
“My cousin started as a technician; now he is the director of engineering…but they are not hiring…”
“You cannot give up…We never give up…”
“You will find something – may be not that good but something… something good….” Continue reading “Just a job”

911 – The Emergency Call

The firm knock on the door made her jump. Even though she was expecting this knock, the police arrived much faster than she had imagined.

She looked at her husband; he was pacing nervously in the far corner of the living room. They exchanged a brief glance – both of them nervous,… beyond nervous.

The officer knocked again, this time much harder. Unwillingly, she walked to the door and turned the knob without making a noise.

A tall RCMP officer in full uniform was standing at the door, with his hand cautiously placed on the gun holster.

“Mrs. Sharma?” The officer inquired.

“Yes… Yes!” She said twice; her voice barely audible..

The officer peeked inside the house before actually stepping in. He spotted her husband standing motionless in the far end of the living room.

“Ma’am, I am Officer Wilson; we are responding to the 911 call…the emergency call” He said; he turned his head and looked around the house, inspecting the premises while still standing at the door.

She did not say anything in response.

“Is that your husband? Mr. Sharma?” He looked at her husband with a piercing gaze.

She just nodded, without saying anything again.

“Anybody else in the house? Any kids?” Continue reading “911 – The Emergency Call”

The Tea Time

“Would you like something to drink, sir?” the flight attendant asked with a polite yet firm voice.
“Some tea please,” he replied in a monotone voice.
“Ice tea or hot tea?”
“Oh, I mean hot tea.”
“Do you want anything in it – Milk or sugar?” The attendant inquired again as she poured the tea from a steel jug into a paper cup.
“Both – milk and sugar…”
“Is half-and-half okay?”
“No, I want only a little bit milk in my tea…”
She handed him two tiny cups of creamer, with label- ‘Mini Moo’s, half-&-half’.
“Oh, that’s what you meant by ‘half and half’…!” Before he could finish his sentence, she had already moved on to the next row of passengers.

After deboarding the plane, the passengers collected their luggage and lined up in the ‘Immigration and Customs’ section. Upon his turn, an immigration officer asked him all kinds of questions.
“When were you married?”
“Two years ago.”
“How long did your spouse stay with you in India?” His eyes glued to the computer screen as he continued the inquiry.
“Two week.”
“Is she the one sponsoring you?”
“When was the last time she visited you?”
“Last year”…..
Finally, after a few more questions, he got ushered to a small cubicle where a white female officer with short red hair greeted him
“Welcome to Canada!” She said with a smile, shaking his hand and offering him a seat.
She told him about different facilities available for the new immigrants; she explained the job search options and how to apply for Social Insurance Number, and so on…
Finally he was guided to gather his luggage and follow the ‘Exit’ signs. Continue reading “The Tea Time”

Indian diaspora info – all you need to know!

Sometimes, the answer is right under your nose. Most of the times, it is better to eliminate the middleman and go straight to source. This post is intended to lead the horse to the water; drink or not, is up to the horse!

Non Resident Indians, the NRIs – home or abroad – always have so many questions about the rules and regulations that apply to them. Quite often, they start by calling some lawyers – the lawyers that are always bombarding the NRIs with their monotone commercial during Indian TV shows – the middlemen!!

If you visit the National Portal of India website and go to the Indian Diaspora section, you can most likely find the answer to most of your questions – right there, under your nose!

The questions like:

# Can NRIs and PIOs open an account with Indian banks?
# Is registration of NRI marriages compulsory in India?
# What is the fee for applying for PIO card and OCI card?
# Is there a limit to the number of investments for acquiring commercial properties in India?
# How can an NRI or PIO adopt a child in India?
# What is meant by OCB?
# What are the investment options for NRIs in India?

This article introduces you to the website directly – you know, horse and water – rather than cutting and pasting the answers here, use the direct links below for accessing the related info! Pick your own dish – all you can eat, for free!! Continue reading “Indian diaspora info – all you need to know!”

Double Standard

She had big dreams, her ideology was based on truth, honesty and kindness. But that was a long time ago, that was when she was seventeen. She thought she was special; she was born to do great things; she was born to make a difference. But then again, that was was when she was in high school. She barely new the world out there. She never knew that the rules of kindness, love and truth apply differently beyond the walls of her house.

Somewhere along the way, somewhere in the process of growing up, she left her house to encounter the real world. She was no longer shielded by her family and her loved ones. It was part of her society, it was part of the traditions to move out. She got married; her family tied her knot to an educated man from Canada. Not because they knew him, or she loved him; they married her in the hope that life would be better in Canada. That is what everyone thought, and that is what they believed – she will be better off in Canada, far better off.

But then again, people are not what they appear to be. In the real world abroad, things are very different. The real world is far different than the one based on dreams; the real world where ideology is often talked about but seldom practiced. Most of the people talk big but do little, she soon learned.

In no time, she was exposed to the double standards as she left her father’s house. She saw hypocrisy first hand – day in and day out. The lies, the deceptions, the compromises – everything was at play on her new stage of life. Continue reading “Double Standard”

The wandering thoughts – living abroad and the past

The wandering thoughts – the home abroad and the long gone past

It is human nature – we are always daydreaming, often lost in our own thoughts. Thinking about past or future and imagining hypothetical scenarios is a part of our day-to-day life. We are never content with what we have, always thinking about ‘what could be’ or ‘what could have been’.

Millions of us leave our homes and our countries to go abroad, searching for a better future, looking for a better life. Some leave by choice – because we want to try new things and new places; others leave because of necessity, because they have to – for one reason or another.

Regardless of where we are and what we have accomplished, we are never satisfied with what we got. Once we go abroad, once we establish ourselves in the the new place, our mind wanders and thinks about going back to the motherland – where we originally come from. It is not because we need to, it is not because we have to; it is because of our nature – we are never satisfied with what we have. The present is never enough!

Most of the immigrants, no matter how long they have been away from their own country or how good life they live in the new place, have nostalgic attachment to their homeland. It is nothing new; it is part of being human. We never let go of the past, especially if past involves sweet memories of childhood. adolescence and youth.

Many of us – settled abroad, often think about going back, returning for good. Even after we have made new life in the new country, the thought of going back often creeps into our minds. It is a good nostalgic memory of past. Most of us think about it – going back permanently, but very few actually try it. And those who return to their motherland, the experience is often not what they expected or what we imagined. Continue reading “The wandering thoughts – living abroad and the past”

Her social drinking troubles

Her parents drove for two hours from Seattle to Surrey, B.C. They did not have a choice. They had to be there. For the entire drive, Meena – her mother – looked out of the car window. She was not admiring the scenery or the landscapes; her brain was racing with troubling thoughts and imaginations. She was worried about their daughter, Anita.

“I am not sure how to tell you this, but I have to; people are starting to talk!” Out of the blue, that was a bombshell from Rani, Anita’s mother-in-law, when she called on Wednesday.
“I don’t understand, what happened?” Meena asked; her voice trembling, and barely audible.
“Can you come over this week-end? Then we can talk,” Rani said after a pause.
Her hands shaking, Meena put-down the phone and slumped into the sofa.

“What’s going on?” Meena called Anita within minutes after that call, the suspense was killing her.
“Hi mom, how are you?” Anita was caught off-guard.
Her mom was quiet on the other end of the line.
I don’t know what you talking about, mom,” Anita added.
“Rani just called me.”
“I don’t know what the big deal is about. Everything is okay mom!” Anita said.
“You tell me now, or I am coming there tonight!” Continue reading “Her social drinking troubles”

India through the eyes of my American Classmates

“So how do you like it here, in US?” This is a common icebreaker with new classmates from other countries.
“I love it; it’s fun!” is my general response. After all, I don’t need to complain about my homesickness to everybody.
“I would love to go to India, but am little bit worried about the safety and stuff over there; ….”  Some hesitation about a country far away is quite normal among Americans.
“Stuff like what?” I like to explore what they think about India.
“Well, it is a new place; plus I don’t speak Indian.” Some say this as a joke, while other are clueless to the Indian languages.
And sometimes, the things get slippery after such small talk! That is where the snakes, the elephants and other wild animals jump into the picture. Some questions, asked even with the utmost seriousness, beg for a chuckle, if not a full blown laugh!

I like my American classmates and friends just as much as my desi colleagues, well almost. At least, that’s what I would like to believe and that’s what I try anyways. Many of these firangs are my close friends. We eat together, we study together and we goof-off together. It’s a fun bunch of people I am surrounded by.

I am one of the five Indians in our class. There are students from everywhere – Canada, European countries, Australia, Kenya, Mexico and Korea…to name a few. They all come from a very diverse background, not to forget in all colors – white, brown, black, yellow, pink, dark pink…well, sometimes it is hard to tell the real color with all the makeup on. 🙂 Continue reading “India through the eyes of my American Classmates”

The hidden social classes abroad – the Fabs, the FOBs, the ABCD

You think you left the social class system back home, when you left India? Think again! 🙂

Perhaps, classes are part of our social life. May be this is how society works – one group of people trying to put down the other group while struggling to prove its own superiority. And NO, we are not taking about the social divisions between whites, blacks or Hispanics abroad.

The Indian society in the foreign lands has its own social classes, its own divisions. From outside, these divisions are not very visible, not very noticeable. This should come as a no surprise to those who have lived abroad amongst other Indians. You may see these partitions less if you are very isolated from rest of the Indian society overseas.

These classes are not based on your last name, cast or creed. Rather, the division is based on your social acceptance among the Indian diaspora. This somewhat hidden division is less visible to an outsider – those who are not Indians or not a part of Indian community. Continue reading “The hidden social classes abroad – the Fabs, the FOBs, the ABCD”

NRIs and the duplicity of life

In India, NRIs – non resident Indians, are always looked up to, well…., most of the time! NRIs are often envied for their prosperity and the riches. NRIs hold a special status in all walks of Indian life. They are well recognized for their deep pockets. There is no debate that most of the NRIs are considered very successful among Indian society, regardless how they make their living in the foreign land.

And how are the NRIs and Indians perceived in the foreign land? What is their social status in the county they live in? Well, exactly the opposite in most cases. There are no stories of special stature to write home about. For example, in the American society, you can find lots of successful NRIs, lots of middle class Indians who are well settled, but there is nothing to envy about their social standings, at least not in the adopted country. They are just a part of another minority group. Continue reading “NRIs and the duplicity of life”

NRIs and the Distance

NRIs: Living abroad and the long distance relations with families/friends

The long distance relations, the long distance friendships, the relatives far away and the families scattered around the globe – welcome to the NRIs club! It is part of living abroad. ‘The distance’ is a part of the journey for most of the NRIs. The distance may be one of the variables depending on where and how far you live; but actually, it is a constant – it is always there. When it comes to the overseas’ life, the distance is what identifies the lifestyle of majority of the NRIs.

Most of the Indians living abroad have what you may call ‘an international family’. The parents may live in one country, the kids in another place, and some of the siblings yet somewhere else. Most of us travel to the faraway places for opportunities – the financial opportunities, the chances for career growth, better jobs and so on…. We explore all around the globe looking for something better – better schools, better jobs, the better places to raise kids….

Along the way, while searching for a better life, come the compromises and the sacrifices. One of the obvious results of all these relocations is the distance.

At the heart of all this running around, at the bottom of all this hunting all over the globe is the search for a better life. The whole thing – the living abroad – revolves around the idea of finding a better life. But, is it? Continue reading “NRIs and the Distance”

NRIs – Scattered relations, separated friends!

“At first, I tried phoning regularly, almost every day. Then it changed from everyday to every week-end. Talking on the phone is not the same, and it becomes very expensive. Over the years, I have basically lost touch with most of my friends, even some of the closest ones,” He speaks in somewhat sad tone, with pain spilling out of his words, “I still call my friends, we email more than phone. We still understand each-other, but it is not the same. I am no longer a part of the friendship circle that I left behind.”

This is true for most of the NRIs. We often talk about going abroad; living overseas and we share our experiences in the foreign countries. We explore the pros and cons of leaving our homeland and settling overseas.At a party or a week-end get-together, or during other social meetings overseas, we often talk about our desi experiences – the good stuff, the bad side and the compromises of living abroad.

However, one of the least discussed and the most unfortunate side-effect of the whole thing – going abroad and settling overseas, – is the emotional and social impact it has on our psychology. Maybe, because we don’t like to talk about something very personal. Perhaps it is uncomfortable and often painful to discuss something that was much cherished and now lost. Continue reading “NRIs – Scattered relations, separated friends!”

10 simple ways to improve cross culture understanding in a new country

The social adaption varies from person to person, some people adapt faster than others. Regardless, it is very natural to have some ‘opinions’ or biases against a new culture or a new place.

Once we move to a new country or a new culture, the adaption starts; we subconsciously start to get used to the new norms as time goes. And, in many cases, we don’t even realize that we are adjusting to the new culture; it happens automatically. It is a natural social change – adapting to the new circumstances over time.

However, the social adaption happens much faster if we make a conscious effort to interact with the local culture. To improve the cross cultural understanding and learning more about the local way of life, here are a few simple but effective things that we can do:

1. Adapt to the local language: Don’t isolate yourself from the local language and the local way of speaking – the slang, the style, …. the whole nine yards. The article ‘Self-help guide to lose your accent’ goes into the details on this subject. Continue reading “10 simple ways to improve cross culture understanding in a new country”

A lesson in American History

“Hi dad, him mom…I am home!” She shouted as she slammed the front door behind her.
Her dark hair combed back into two pigtails, she was wearing an light blue frock with long navy blue socks. She carelessly shook off her back slip-on shoes next to the thick door-mat that had ‘welcome’ written in the middle.
“Good! How was your day? You look tired!” He lowered the TV volume to almost an inaudible level. He sat up straight, make room for his little daughter.
“It was okay. I still don’t like it here!” She said, putting down her heavy school bag against the sofa.
“It’s normal Riya! Did you make any new friends?”
“Not really, all the white kids call me ‘the Indian girl’” She slumped into the sofa next to her dad.
“That’s because you are new; they are not used to it” He said encouragingly.
“I love ‘American History’ class though. The teacher was so happy with me!” there was an excitement in her voice again. Continue reading “A lesson in American History”