How many Indian HNIs really left India?
In the last few years, we have time and again read articles in the Indian media with the following eyeball grabbing headlines:
- 23,000 dollar-millionaires have left India since 2014– 19th March 2018
- ‘5,000 millionaires left India last year’ – 10th May 2019
- ‘5000 Super Rich Have Left India In 2018’ – 3 Reasons Why This Is A Disaster – 17th April 2019
- ‘India’s millionaires are fleeing from homeland — And these are the countries where they are headed’ – 14th May 2019
- ‘Indian rich top world in looking to leave the country’ – 13th February 2021
- ‘Wealthy Indians Top World In Looking to Leave Country: Report’ – 13th February 2021
- ‘Indian Millionaires Are Investing in Second Citizenship and Moving Abroad’ – 16th April 2021
Being in the immigration industry with more than 28 years of experience, I was intrigued by these headlines and the alleged figures. Yes, India’s rich and famous are leaving the country and opting for a second passport but the numbers cited in many of these articles seemed preposterous.
I decided to do some research to determine if this was true. I picked out the last article and tried to reach the author of the article. He was nice enough to send me the report which was referred to in this article. He also sent me a note saying – ‘Our figures are estimates’.
I also reached out to the bank which has been part of the same report and quoted in several pressnote. The bank, however, has not replied to my email.
Here is the official data from the Reserve Bank of India (the regulatory bank in India) of the remittance/investment made by Indian citizens overseas in the last 4 years.
|Outward remittances/investments made under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) for Resident Individuals / Indian Citizens – Published by Reserve Bank of India (RBI)|
|Item||2016-17||2017-18||2018-19||2019-20||TOTAL of Four years|
|1 Outward Remittance under the LRS – TOTAL for the year||8,170.7||11,333.6||13,787.58||18,751.40||52,043.28|
|1.2 Purchase of immovable property||92.9||89.6||84.53||86.43||353.46||Investment|
|1.3 Investment in equity/debt||443.6||441.8||422.90||431.41||1739.71||Investment|
|1.7 Maintenance of close relatives||2,169.5||2,937.4||2800.88||3437.46||11345.24||Expenses|
|1.8 Medical Treatment||17.3||27.5||28.59||33.88||107.27||Expenses|
|1.9 Studies Abroad||1,536.4||2,021.4||3569.87||4989.04||12116.71||Expenses|
|Note: 1.10: Includes items such as a subscription to journals, maintenance of investment abroad, student loan repayments, and credit card payments.|
We can plainly see from the above RBI data that the ‘estimates’ cited in most reports and their subsequent press notes are nowhere near the actual figures. It appears that these articles/press notes are nothing more than self-serving paid advertorials.
By creating a hype that a large number of Indians are leaving the country by opting for a second passport, they perhaps want to popularize the Residency & Citizenship by Investment programs offered by different countries in India. They hope that rich Indians will join the bandwagon and sign up for these programs.