Manipuris should be global opportunity hunters
We live in a mental world that is expandable (and compressible). The expanded mental horizon gives us a better vista of the world we live in and hence peace and happiness. Most progressive people possess this.
On the contrary, the world today is getting smaller and smaller because of the ever-increasing infrastructural and information connectivity.
The combination of these two phenomena results in globalization wherein institutions, markets and competitions are getting more and more inclusive and intertwined obliterating physical and political barriers. And, more importantly, opportunities are also getting global.
The strong wave of globalization can hurt immobilized populations while it benefits the smart people on the look out. This challenges the Manipuri population to prepare themselves for the changing world.
The world population is so mobile that 244 million people in the world lived outside their countries in the year 2015. Indian diaspora is 25 million strong now and they remit 73 Billion US Dollars back to India every year. China and India, the two most populous countries of the world are also the biggest source countries for immigrant receiving countries like Canada, US, Australia etc.
In this scenario, Manipur’s seemingly contented people remain less aware of the opportunities abroad. This conclusion is derived from the fact that when 35000 emigrants and 12000 students from India reach Canada every year, hardly one or two Manipuri are among them. Based on population ratio in India, at least 70 emigrants and 25 students from Manipur should be heading for Canada every year. It is not happening.
This article is meant for sensitising the readers about the need of preparing our population for the fast-changing world of global opportunities and the competition that they can’t escape. Going abroad does not drain our resources but brings in capital and knowledge to benefit the state.
It is not possible to list in this article all the opportunities available worldwide. That is not its intent. The article therefore focuses mainly on Canada that I know.
The Country: Canada is the second largest country in the world with only 36 million people, a population roughly equal to that of four Indian cities combined (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad). With its huge natural resource Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. The most attractive are its peacefulness and policy of multiculturalism. Demanded by the declining fertility in its population, ageing population and the giant economic engine, the country is poised to receive 300000-450000 immigrants every year for the next 40 years. The country has the best immigration system of the world and a very elaborate system of supporting newcomers. This situation throws a lot of opportunities to people from less advantaged countries in the world, India included.
Education: Canada encourages international students to come and study in their world class colleges and universities. The country benefits through tuition fees from foreign students and supply of educated workers to its economy. The cost of study in Canada is the cheapest as compared to that of other destination countries like UK, Australia and the USA. The average cost is around 25000 CAD (13 lakh INR) per year – tuition and living cost included. The cost can be drastically cut down with scholarships and earnings from student peer tutoring, part time jobs etc. which are commonly done by both the Canadian and the foreign students alike. India sends more than 12000 students to Canada every year. Canadian degrees are well respected worldwide. Completion of study in Canada entitles the student to Post graduation work permit.
Employment: Employment market for every occupation is statistically well monitored. The unemployment rate ranges between 3 and 7.5 among the provinces. Employment in private and public sectors do not make much difference in terms of earning, security, benefits and pension etc. Career-minded people can climb the ladder quick and earn more. Workers are protected by compulsory unemployment insurance that provides grant of 55% of their salary when job loss occurs irrespective of private or public sectors. The salaries are roughly 5 – 10 times that of the Indian salaries. Corruption and nepotism are almost unknown in employment. Winning employment in the skilled sector is very difficult when you apply from outside Canada due to a Canadian government policy for protecting the Canadian internal job seekers. So, finding a way to reach Canada works the best for most people.
Life: Canadians are one of the happiest peoples of the world. Sometimes Canadians are described as polite Americans. Racial discrimination is almost absent. Under a highly developed system, most services are online and fast. Offices have extremely good customer service. Volunteering service is extremely well organized among students, working population and retired population and it contributes to 3 percent of the country’s GDP (50 Billion CAD) every year. Canada’s publicly insured healthcare is considered one of the best in the world. There are 34 million cars for a population of 27 million adult population. Canada’s GDP (PPP) is 42,158 USD as compared to 1709 USD for India.
Immigrant success: Immigrants earn lower than Canadians in the beginning years of their arrival. But, immigrants score more in many fronts afterwards. For example, student performance in education ranks the Chinese first followed by South Asians (mainly Indians), whites and others in the descending order. There are more immigrant small business owners that the whites. Immigrants form 48% of the millionaires in the country. Indians are very successful both in business and politics. There are four cabinet ministers in the present federal government including the coveted defense minister.
Immigration corridors: There are several ways of going to Canada as immigrant. Immigration programs are there for educated skilled workers, skilled trade workers, investors, entrepreneurs, artists, sportspersons and Canadian educated students etc. run differently and in coordination by the federal and provincial governments. The most popular is the Express Entry Program for skilled workers that processes applications within 6 – 12 months. This is much faster than those in other countries. Aspiring immigrants need to find the right corridor suited to their backgrounds. Applicants need to be very careful about fraud immigration agents who dupe people taking advantage of their ignorance.
There are other countries that receive immigrants and refugees. The USA which once used to be the prime destination for immigrants is presently going through a tumultuous immigration reform under Donald Trump causing uncertainties of the fates of those aspiring to go there and those already in the country as well. There is an unprecedented trend of workers leaving America for Canada these days (2017).
Opportunities for Manipuri HNWIs: Manipuri HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) can start looking for investments in safe countries to expand their businesses and bringing foreign exchange to add to capital formation in Manipur.
Listed below are some of the opportunities that are very popular among international investors these days. Of interest to those who want to reach out to international business is the Citizenship by Investment Program of the Caribbean island countries.
1. Real Estate Investment in Canada: Real estate investment opportunities in India are not attractive because of builder unreliability in terms of build quality, delivery time and deal vagueness. Management of rental property is also difficult.
A Manipuri can buy homes and flats in Ottawa with mortgage financing from Canadian banks without living in Canada. The Down payment 20% and mortgage interest rate about 4%. The property can be rented out under care of Property Management Companies whose money handling can be monitored online by sitting in Manipur 24/7. Property value appreciation rate is about 8% year over year and it has been very stable for years. Average home price in Ottawa is CAD 415000 (2.1 crores INR) and Average flat price is around CAD 265000 (1.3 crore INR). There are ways to avoid capital gains tax at the time of selling. All deals with realtors, builders, property management companies etc. are very safe.
Down payment of 20% for 2.1 crore INR is about 40 lakhs and for 1.3 crores it is about 21 lakhs INR. So, it is affordable for interested Manipuris. This is very good for parents who want to send their children for world class education in Canada with the cost of study adjusted with investment income.
2. Canadian Permanent Resident Visa through Investment
Canada is best known for conservative banking which is very safe for business. Foreign investors who want Canadian Permanent Resident Visa (and subsequently citizenship) can either go for Active investment or for Passive investment. Active investment is for the entrepreneurs who themselves want to establish business in Canada. Passive investment is for the people who want to invest money with the provincial governments and do whatever they like when they live in Canada. Setting up a business is not obligatory for passive investors. Investment involved in these programs start from about 1.5 crore INR. Deals are always safe. Once they get Canadian citizenship, they have visa free access to 172 countries in the world. Canadian passports are well respected in most places. By taking the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), they can live and do business in India freely if they want.
3. Citizenship of a Commonwealth Country by Investment: Small island countries like Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Grenada and Dominica which are English speaking Commonwealth countries a little south of Florida (US) in the Caribbean seas have a unique program of inviting investments from High Net Worth Individuals in the world in exchange of direct citizenship. This program was born in Dominica and St. Kitts Islands about two decades ago and its success encouraged others to follow suit.
The investments are in the form of donation of about 100000 USD to the national development fund or purchase of a real estate property (mostly furnished homes in resorts) for about 400000 USD. The citizenship application under these programs are processed in 3 to 6 months. There are no residency obligations (you can stay in your original country) and the citizenship is a lifelong entitlement.
Thousands of moneyed people around the world have already bought citizenship from these islands for many good reasons. The reasons for buying these citizenship (and passports) are:
1. Increase of passport power from 58 (India) visa-free countries to 132 countries. For instance, the newly acquired passport allows you to travel visa-free to 132 countries in the world including 26 Schengen European countries, countries like Singapore and South Korea in Asia and many more famous tourist destinations in the world. This facilitates travel freedom for the passport holder to do international business.
2. The world class banking and the tax-friendly fiscal environment in these countries provide excellent opportunities for parking wealth in safe havens.
3. Kids of these passport holders have easier access to many developed countries for better education and employment.
4. These countries do not tax the income from outside their countries. So, the businessmen in Manipur with the foreign passport does not have to pay tax to two countries.
5. There is no capital gain tax when properties are sold.
Investors from countries that have duel citizenship programs (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc.) can enjoy the citizenship of both the countries while still enjoying the travel freedom provided by the new passport. India does not have duel citizenship program as such. However, it gives Indians settled abroad a status called Overseas Indian Citizen (OCI) with most of the privileges of an Indian citizen except political rights and government jobs. A foreign passport holder with OCI can do business and live in India freely and travel the world more freely.
The Citizenship by investment programs are found in a few Mediterranean countries like Cyprus and Malta and a few more east European countries. But their residency terms are stricter, and costs are higher.
Conclusion: The world is small, and it is getting smaller because of the increased global connectivity. We can’t think of living in isolation and still feel safe and protected. If we do not move, we will be swept away by the strong wave of globalization surging wide across the globe now. If we move, we will have the advantage of knowing the global opportunities in advance and grab them for bringing wealth and knowledge to our own land.
Manipuris should be global opportunity hunters