Investing in India Versus the West


How India looks like for overseas investors at a time of global uncertainty, as explained by economics and NRI expert Kul Bhushan.

Dear overseas Indian investor, where will you keep your money safely? In the UK? Really, after Brexit and the emerging economic slide?
In the USA? What with its huge deficit, debt and slow economy.
Perhaps anywhere in the west, then? What about the almost negative rates of interest after you deduct inflation from your returns? Add to that the global political scenario getting bleaker with increased violence.

So let’s face it, India is the best bet right now. In the current global economic slowdown, India is the fastest growing economy with over seven per cent growth.

The passing of the constitutional bill for goods and services tax (GST) on 3 August 2016, marked a historic day in the economic history of the nation. As a major economic reform post the liberalisation of 1991, the passage of the GST bill will finally lead to the realisation of the ‘One Nation One Market’ dream.

Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal calls GST ‘Brexit in reverse’ which means that while Britain left the bigger market of Europe, India has created its own bigger single market for goods and services.
This means extra economic growth estimated at between two and three per cent after the bill comes into action which is targeted for 1 April 2017.

“This is India’s biggest single tax reform since independence,” wrote an Indian management consultant settled in the USA.
Simply put, GST is a single tax on goods and service that includes VAT, service tax, central sales tax, excise duty, entertainment tax, additional customs duty, special customs duty, octroi and entry tax, purchase tax, luxury tax, and taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, and many other taxes at the state level.

GST will simplify the taxation system, bringing in more revenues and efficiency. But how does it all impact the overseas Indian investor?
Higher economic growth means better returns for investment. India seems to be at the cusp of a new era of economic growth and development and this bodes well for investors to look at equity investments as a powerful tool for long-term wealth creation.

When overseas Indians deposit their savings in India, they can expect higher returns than in the west.
When they invest in equities or mutual funds, they can hope for even better returns as the market will become more bullish and when they invest in industry, the single market could bring in higher profits.

The real test of GST will however lie in its implementation. The digital infrastructure for collecting GST is claimed to be in place but tax officials will have to be re-trained by April 2017.
If India fails in the proper implementation of GST, then it may result in little or no benefit in economic growth and lower inflation.
But chances are that the Modi government – which worked hard to get GST passed – will make it a success. And that makes India the top destination for diaspora funds and investment.

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What Women Want… on Wall Street

At last, here’s a movie that portrays women taking on the male-dominated world of Wall Street. Equity, directed by Meera Menon, revolves around Naomi Bishop (played by Anna Gunn), a seasoned female investment banker holding her own in the fiercely competitive world of big money.
“For me, I guess the simplest answer is, I like money”, Bishop honestly states when asked what makes her really get up in the morning.

Equity has been getting positive reviews with one critic hailing it as “the she-wolves of Wall Street”.
The fact that there’s never been a female CEO at any of the 22 largest U.S. investment banks says a lot about gender inequality in finance. The irony couldn’t be more obvious at a time when Hilary Clinton has become the first U.S. female presidential nominee.

Equity is not only correcting that imbalance on-screen but also behind the camera. The film’s leading producers are women as are the scriptwriters, while the mostly female-led cast is directed by a young Indian American woman director.

“The film is about women in power and their relationship with money,” Menon said in an interview. “All of these things are newer to explore because they’re not necessarily things that historically women have been associated with.”

As Bishop says in the film, “I am so glad its finally OK for women to talk about success.”
It’s the kind of line that should inspire women worldwide to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all.

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It’s Time for Indian Women to Just Do It

A new commercial by Nike has thrown the spotlight on India’s sportswomen, using sports as a trigger to boost female empowerment.

In a break from the typical alpha-male dominated imagery seen in most sports advertising, the Nike India commercial features a cast of over 160 girls such as one of the world’s youngest fully trained Stott Pilates instructors, Namrata Purohit, footballer Jyoti Ann Burrett and cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandana and Shubhlakshmi Sharma, in addition to other sports practitioners.

Major star power is added by the likes of tennis star Sania Mirza and former national-level badminton player turned actress Deepika Padukone.

The music-driven ad titled “Da Da Ding” is inspired by sociological findings that suggest that “female participation in sport helps to alter a girl or woman’s self-image in numerous ways, including feelings of control, competency and strength,” according to a statement from Nike.

For example, Rani Rampal, who in 2010 at the age of 15 became the youngest player on India’s national field hockey team, says that sports helped build her self-assurance and expand her dreams: “Coming from a small village never stopped me; every time I won a medal I kept getting stronger and more confident to take on the world.”

Given that women have traditionally remained under pressure to live up to outdated expectations – be it in how they look or what careers they choose – India’s sportswomen can fuel a new wave of much-needed female assertiveness.

An assertiveness that also reflects how they earn, save and invest their money.

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Female Leadership + Fintech = Financial Revolution


The world of finance has traditionally been a male domain but Indian women are smashing through the glass ceiling to emerge as leaders, especially in banking. This management revolution is happening at a time when fintech, or financial technology, is rapidly changing India’s financial ecosystem.

Some of India’s leading banks are headed by women such as Arundhati Bhattacharya (SBI), Chanda Kochhar (ICICI), Shikha Sharma (Axis Bank), Usha Ananthasubramanian (Punjab National Bank), Naina Lal Kidwai (HSBC) and Kaku Nakhate (Bank of America Merrill Lynch India), among others.

This trend is indeed ground-breaking indicating that India is at par, if not ahead, of many countries when it comes to gender equality in banking.

A report in The Quint suggested that some of the reasons why women have made such an impact include their ability to be natural team players, multi-taskers and flexible managers while adding that “women also traditionally tend to be more careful with money”.

Taking an international view beyond banking, a recent study by the Centre for Financial Research at the University of Cologne indicated how women approach financial management. The study indicated that female fund managers switched around their portfolios less than their male colleagues. An analysis on Investopedia offers further insight on “the unique ways women approach finance”.

With women heading some of India’s top banks coupled with the growing impact of fintech, it should be no surprise if the country is heading for a financial revolution. A recent report by KPMG India titled “Fintech in India” states that “the traditionally cash-driven Indian economy has responded well to the fintech opportunity, primarily triggered by a surge in e-commerce, and smartphone penetration.” The transaction value for the Indian fintech sector is estimated to be approximately US$ 33 billion in 2016 and is projected to reach US$ 73 billion in 2020 growing at a five year CAGR of 22 percent.

With banks targeting the millennial audience – India has the world’s youngest population with over 350 million people below the age of 24 – fintech is expected to play a major role in attracting this crucial demographic. Moreover, with 277 million internet users, India has just overtaken the U.S. to emerge as the world’s second largest internet user after China.

In other words, fintech powered with female leadership can give India a unique standing in the global financial market while giving you, the consumer, better options on how to manage your money.

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Girls Just Want Equal Funds

Popstar Cyndi Lauper delivered a serious message demanding equal pay for women by reworking the lyrics of her classic 1983 hit “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.
Appearing on the Late Late Show With James Corden recently, Lauper retitled the song to “Girls Just Want Equal Funds.”

The revised lyrics went like this: “I come home in the morning light/ My mother says ‘Why don’t you make the same as a guy?’/ Oh mama, dear, we’re not the fortunate ones/ ‘Cause girls, they want equal funds.”

Still reflecting the same impish charm as she did back in the day, Lauper had another message for men: “If you ask us for a date, oh boys be ready to pay / we’ll get the check when we make the same.”

The raging debate over gender pay gap is a worldwide trend affecting both rich and poor countries alike.
In India, men earned a median gross hourly salary of Rs. 288.68 while women earned Rs. 207.85 per hour according to the latest Monster Salary Index by online recruitment website Monster India. The report also shows that gender pay gap disparity stands at 27% in the country.

While it is still high, the gap has narrowed in recent years. According to a study by (an initiative of IIM Ahmedabad), the average gender pay gap was approximately 54% from 2006 to 2011.

India’s current 27% pay gap is close to the U.S. where it stands at 25%.

According to a World Economic Forum global gender gap report, India ranks 108th in the world (out of 145 countries surveyed) with a 0.664 ranking. Iceland tops the survey with a 0.881 ranking, closest to 1 which represents total equality.

The report also adds that since 2006, an extra quarter of a billion women worldwide have entered the labor force. And yet, the annual pay for women only now equals the amount men were earning TEN YEARS AGO.

So kudos to Cyndi Lauper for demanding equal funds for girls!

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How Money Seduces Men and Women Differently


If you put the cliche to the test, when it comes to money, men are indeed from Mars while women are from Venus.

According to a recent study conducted by Social Indicators Research, men and women are seduced by money in different ways. The study featured over 100,000 individuals in the U.K. who were surveyed on how they responded to money across various parameters. The study broadly defined four main categories which are associated with money: security, power, love, and freedom.

One of the major differences between the genders was in how women associated money more with love and freedom compared to men. By contrast, for men, more than women, money represented power and security.

Among its many findings, the survey also confirmed the phenomenon of retail therapy for women. Compared to men, women were “worried spenders” – they shopped as a form of therapy and they worried more about money.

It goes without saying that the findings of this survey, which focused on a U.K. sample audience, could also probably offer similar results in India and other countries. As indicated by the study, if women see money as a means to freedom, then the MIRR credo of “Indulgence is Freedom” rings true.