Citizens' Issues
Mumbai-Goa catamaran service to be launched soon

Before the advent of the Konkan Railway and the airline tickets got cheaper, the only modes of transport from Mumbai to Goa and vice versa were either an overnight bus journey over coarse roads or hopping onto a steamer which would take 24 hours to coast over the passage

 

Tired of booking expensive flight tickets to Goa? If the efforts of Goa's Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and Mumbai Port Trust pan out, a cheap catamaran service may help to fuel Goa's tourism story further.
 
Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of a media event in Panaji late Tuesday, chairman of MPT Cyril George said he had received written consent from his counterpart in the Mumbai port facility and a cheaper catamaran ferry service could begin in as soon as two months.
 
"This service will be able to serve tourists and a pleasure for passengers. It will be convenient and nature friendly," George said.
 
The top official said the two port bodies were speaking to two private agencies, who were keen on operating the catamaran service, which George said, will help tourists travel to and from Goa, with a lesser toll on their wallets.
 
"You may be feeling that to travel from Goa to Bombay (and vice versa) especially during New Year is expensive or tickets are not available. This (catamaran) may be the answer," George said.
 
Before the advent of the Konkan Railway and the airline tickets got cheaper, the only modes of transport from Mumbai to Goa and vice versa were either an overnight bus journey over coarse roads or hopping onto a steamer which would take 24 hours to coast over the passage.
 
In 80s, the steamers were commandeered into service during the Indian peace keeping force operations in Sri Lanka only to be replaced by swanky privately operated catamarans more than a decade back, a service which died a quick death because of commercial non-viability.
 
George claims a lot had changed since the failed private catamaran enterprise and that the dynamics or marine travel and interest in Goa had changed.
 
"There was a ship service 10 years ago. The situation has changed a lot like the culture, attitudes, picnic, economy, etc. Now a lot of people want to visit Goa," George said, adding that the MPT was also planning two marinas and a ferry service in Goa's territorial waters.
 
Goa is known as one of the best beach tourism destination in the country and attracts nearly four million tourists every year.
 

User

Can we simplify some procedures for NRIs?
If a foreign government has already apostilled a document, then why it needs attestation from the Consulate General of India? Furthermore, why should the NRI do this process for a document like PAN card issued by the Indian Government itself
 
Indian diaspora (or foreign nationals) wanting to do business in India have to still go through laborious processes for simple things, taking up a lot of time and money. If you live abroad and want any document (such as your PAN card, issued by Indian government) to be recognised by the Government of India, it has to be Notarised by a Notary Public, then Apostilled (An "apostille" is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961 - India is a signatory) and finally attested by the Consul General of India in that country. The originals have to be sent across to India for further processing. 
 
 
I had to get some documents attested and it took me full two days (yes!) of running around to get it done. And I may have been lucky! 
 

Day 1

First off, the person advising me from India did not know the process correctly and told me to go to the Indian Consulate (the closest one to me is at San Francisco (SFO), about 100 kms) to get the documents apostilled. It was a long two and a half hour drive. By the time, I reached there it was already 11am and the Indian Consulate accepts applications only till 12 noon. The official at the Consulate was courteous and professional but declined to take my papers because I had not notarised / apostilled the documents. Apostilling for those who live in the SFO area is done at Sacramento, about 200 kms away. By now, it was noon and I had to rush across to get it done by 4PM or I would have lost a day. 
 
Therefore, off I went to Sacramento and about halfway there, I stopped at a Notary Public's office and got my documents notarized. I pulled up at the counter in Sacramento office and the official looked at the documents and rejected three (I had a total of four) saying the wrong paper was used by the notary. 
 
The clock was ticking down and I was getting desperate and I needed some good luck and to my pleasant surprise, the person standing behind me in the line, a fellow Indian American who too had come to apostille some documents was coincidentally (!) a Notary too! We found a quiet corner and Gary Sahota walked me through the process, took signatures and I was done before the counter closed. 
 
How often does it happen that you have a person with the exact skill set right when you need him? As we were leaving, I remarked to Gary that "he made my day" and he ever so humbly pointed upwards and that said it all. Touching moment! 
 
We were chatting briefly and he mentioned that he too was an IT guy in a previous life and had started doing Notary work recently. A shout out to Gary for all those living in the Bay Area. He knows all the kinks in the Government procedures (for instance India and China want the notarisation/ apostilling done on the same page) and getting things done first time is considered a miracle!
 

Day 2

Armed with Notarised and apostilled documents, I set sail (I meant drive!) to SFO and this time too, ran into the same official at the counter and got the documents submitted by 10:30am. To my surprise, I was asked to come back by 4pm. My whole day was spent just waiting around to get the signed documents. 
 
And that got me thinking, that there must be a better way... If a foreign government has already apostilled a document, then why should it again be attested by the Consulate General? This seems to be a duplication of effort. Furthermore, why should I do this process for a document (e.g. PAN card) that the Government of India issued me? Do they not trust their own card? 
 
Imagine if I were to live in Seattle or Portland along the West Coast or in Denver Colorado. They will have to mail documents back and forth and iterate till the cows come home! In my humble opinion, an apostilled document is enough proof of the genuineness of the document. 
 
In the Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised self-attestation and if he acts on his promises, it will go a long way in convincing sceptics that this Government is serious about governance.

User

COMMENTS

US Apostille

1 year ago

In fact, It's a truely confusing issue, if India is already a Hague convention member, so why attestation from the Embassy or the Consulate of India is necessary!! Actually, the real question is, if is there are a solution of this issue soon? it wastes time and money despite the it's just an Apostille document.
but hey, http://www.usapostille.com will do it for who need to hire a private service in DC or CA.

accept my regards
US Apostille
[email protected]
[email protected]

Richard Johnston

2 years ago

I also agree with the author of this article, Sree Iyer. India is a member of the Hague Apostille Convention. The purpose of being a member is to make it easy for people to submit documents to the country without having to go through the Consulate or Embassy. We currently apostille 25-50 documents a month for the country of India through our offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Even though not every document going to India requires the San Francisco consulate to legalize the document, some documents do. For example, a Power of Attorney. Over the years, I've had clients take two days off of work just to drive to the Indian Consulate office in San Francisco. I don't see why this step is necessary - especially for a country who is a member of the Apostille convention.

Thank you.
Richard M. Johnston
California Apostille Services
International Apostille Services, Inc.
http://www.sanfranciscoapostille.com

How to be Safe & Smart with your Money, for Puneites
Moneylife Foundation continued its successful series on financial literacy with its flagship seminar in Pune, the seventh time in that city
 
Moneylife Foundation conducted yet another successful, educative and highly interactive seminar - ”Be Safe and Smart with Your Money” in Pune, after a long gap of almost two years. This was the seventh Moneylife Foundation event conducted in Pune since 2010. The event, which witnessed a packed audience, was held at the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries & Agriculture (MCCIA).
 
The flagship seminar has two distinct sessions separated by a tea break. The first is by Sucheta Dalal, managing editor of Moneylife and founder trustee of Moneylife Foundation. The next session is by Debashis Basu, editor and founder trustee of Moneylife Foundation. 
 

How to Be Safe With Your Money

 

Ms Dalal’s session was titled ‘How to Be Safe with Your Money’. Ms Dalal started by pointing out that financial products are fundamentally different from consumer products. You can test-drive a car but you cannot test-drive a mutual fund; the fate of your investment becomes clear only after a year or more. Moreover, in the real world brand names mean something. Not so in financial world. However, people translate their experience of buying consumer products into financial world and later repent their decision. 
 
Advising investors to see through the sales pitch, Ms Dalal said. Companies need to sell products and services to earn money, the media focusses on advertising revenues and may not hesitate selling news, while the intermediaries are concerned about their commission and sales target. Therefore, the buyer needs to see through this sales pitch and chose the financial product based on six mantras.
 
The six mantras, articulated by Ms Dalal, include - not to lose money, insure for securing future, avoid credit and investment traps, focus on few safe products, avoid emotional traps and maintain financial hygiene.
 

 large section of her presentation was focused on how not to lose money. Many people unfortunately fall for pyramid schemes that promise extraordinary returns. Unfortunately, "Smart people are easier to cheat," she noted, adding, "high-achieving professionals are often defrauded." 

 

Many have lost huge amounts of money in pyramid, MLM, chain marketing and chit funds such as Herbalife, Amway, Saradha, Rose Valley, SpeakAsia, Gold Quest or Qnet. There are various chain marketing schemes which operate at every level in the country and cheat even the poorest of people. Moneylife has consistently written about these schemes. "The main danger of all such schemes is, those early entrants, who earned high returns initially, usually re-invest all money in the scheme and eventually lose everything when the scheme collapses," she said.
 
Ms Dalal then cautioned the audience about internet scams - mainly email traps, like the lottery scam, being sent out in the name of Reserve Bank of India, its governors, wife of Raj Rajrathnam and so on. Then there are job scams, where people are offered the 'so-called jobs' in top companies. However, any respondents to such emails end up losing their money.
 
She also advised the audience against falling prey to phishing and vishing scams. While phishing relates to an email that appears to be sent from banks, seeking verification PIN, password, date of birth and account details, in vishing, the scamsters call on the mobile number of the account holder and ask for such details.
 
Several times, people, who have no knowledge about stock markets, are lured with promises of huge returns in shortest possible time. Trading schemes, like Nifty trades, Forex derivatives and oil futures, all have brought grief to investors, and investors should stay away from such offers, she said. 
 
Ms Dalal advised participants to stay away from plantation schemes, art funds and realty companies offering high returns on deposits. Any scheme offering 3% more than deposit rate should be a red flag. She also spoke about the various internet scams that are usually after your money or your identity. Ms Dalal also touched upon some factors to keep in mind while dealing with credit cards, insurance and credit scores.
 
How to bank safely? When it comes to choosing a bank, she cautioned the audience against falling for small cooperative banks. As for private banks, Ms Dalal pointed out said that relationship managers usually work only to earn themselves fat commissions from your investments. Thus many “relationship managers” resort to mis-selling or hard selling a product. If you do buy anything from them, have all your communication documented.
 
She cited the example of Mangelal Sharma, who was persuaded to withdraw Rs7 lakh from his fixed deposit and invest in DWS’s mutual fund scheme with a 5-year lock in period. (Read Mangelal Sharma gets his Rs7 lakh back—another Moneylife victory)
 
In another example, well-known singer-actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthy was looted by HSBC bank for five years by promising an extravagant assured return of 24% from mutual funds as well as insurance. Moneylife Foundation relentlessly pursued the case for over two years and finally, HSBC Bank agreed to settle the issue and repaid her Rs1.37 crore.
 
One should be careful while investing one’s money in fixed deposits, she said. Bank deposits are usually safe but corporate deposits should be inspected carefully before investing. “Do not go for any deposit which does not have a legitimate credit rating,” said Ms Dalal. And most importantly, if the interest offered is 3% higher than bank fixed deposits, one should stay away.
 
Talking about insurance, Ms Dalal, said, we Indians do not like to insure thinking that it is waste of money in case there is no claim. "Insurance is not an investment. It should be treated as money that is kept for unforeseen contingencies," she said.
 
Ms Dalal then gave some tips on keeping one's money safe. It includes, registering mobile number with service providers to get transaction and payment alerts and looking out for small charges on unnecessary services.
 
Several people want to have a credit card and do not even read the terms and conditions, especially the interest rates and charges that are usually in the range of 40% to 65%. Another point to keep in mind is that one should not use credit card to withdraw cash, as this is termed as instant loan and needs to be paid separately. Even in the part repayment, the cash (withdrawn) is adjusted last, she added.
 
Ms Dalal, explained credit history, credit score and reports which are becoming increasingly important. She said, all your borrowings and repayments for credit card, student or education loan and other loans, are tracked by credit information companies, like CIBIL, Experian, CRIF Highmark and Equifax. 
 
Payment history, amounts owned, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used, are some of the factors that affects ones credit score. The credit history remains with the credit bureaus for seven years and any default can affect one's future borrowings, Ms Dalal added.
 

How to be Smart with Your Money

In the second session, ‘Be Smart with Your Money’, Debashis Basu, editor & publisher of Moneylife and founder trustee of Moneylife Foundation, took the audience through simple steps for investing smartly. To start with, he suggested saving at least 25% of your income. While Indians save a lot, they keep their money safe in bank deposits. Unfortunately, this is just the wrong thing to do especially for those who are in the highest tax bracket.
 
Usually we have different financial goals, such as saving on taxes, buying a house, child’s education etc. Mr Basu explained the different financial products available which can help meet these goals. Further, he explained the risk and returns associated with each financial investment. Most people don’t see the huge risk of inflation eating away their wealth. Mr Basu asked the audience to calculate everything in post-tax and post-inflation basis. He also took the audience through the pluses and minuses of different asset classes such as fixed income, gold, real estate, stocks/equity mutual funds and insurance. Most Indians prefer to invest in gold and real estate. Mr Basu pointed out that most investors don’t know what influences gold prices and this makes gold investing more of a speculation. He explained that the price of gold is driven by the six factors (mainly the movement of the dollar and rupee). The investors are unaware of any of them. On real estate, Mr Basu pointed out that we really don’t know the returns we would get from our real estate investments because not enough data is available.
 
Stocks and equity mutual fund schemes are the best route for long term wealth creation, based on past data. This is because well-managed businesses create profits which get reflected in the stock prices. But by nature, stock investments are volatile. They may decline sharply if they are overvalued. If you really want to gain from the enormous wealth that stocks and funds can create, you have to understand this and stay patiently invested in good funds or a bunch of good stocks, advised Mr Basu. Apart from the returns, Mr Basu explained the risks involved in various asset classes. 
 
The three and a half hour session concluded with a lively question and answer session. To know about future sessions, please register as a Moneylife Foundation member here

User

COMMENTS

Scott Johnson

2 years ago

Most MLMs operate very similar to Amway, the largest MLM scam on the planet. Read about them here: http://www.StopTheAmwayToolScam.wordpress.com

Senior Citizen

2 years ago

Ms Dalal has to be congratulated for her great service she renders to savers and retirees in India where is no social security.

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