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NRI's impacted by Financial crisis: In the news >> Features Archieve >> This Article

The news making rounds in the Non Resident Indian (NRI) community is the impact of the Financial Crisis that has spared very few. The following news item, while extremely tragic, is just the tip of the iceberg. NRIs seem to be hit in several ways:

  • Fluctuating Rupee-Dollar exchange rate that has left many wondering about their Return To India plans.
  • Wipeout of a considerable part of their nest-eggs: 401 Ks, Home values and investments in stocks and bonds
  • Loosing jobs, in some case the loss is accentuated by loss of immigration/visa status d

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Blogs on the topic of Karthik Rajaram Family tragedy:

Death of the American Dream: Indian kills family of five, self in LA (From TOI)

WASHINGTON: Multiple gunshots echoed in the upscale home of an Indian family in a quiet, gated, suburban Los Angeles community last weekend, echoing the troubled times in America. When police turned up on Monday morning after calls from a concerned neighbour waiting for a carpool ride, they found the body of 45-year old Karthik Rajaram, an unemployed financial advisor, lying in one room with a handgun he had used to shoot himself dead.

With him lay his two youngest sons Arjuna (7) and Ganesha (12), both shot dead. In different rooms across the house they found the bodies of Karthik’s wife Subasri (39), his mother-in-law Indra Ramasesham (69), and his eldest son Krishna (19). They all appeared to have been shot to death by Karthik Rajaram.

Police also found two suicide notes – one for the cops and one for extended family and friends -- and a will. In them, Rajaram he spoke of his financial difficulties and took responsibility for killing his family members, police said.

Police did not elaborate on the contents except to suggest that Rajaram appeared to be in dire financial straits.

''This is a perfect American family behind me that has absolutely been destroyed,'' LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore told reporters. ''It is critical to step up and recognize we are in some pretty troubled times.''

Rajaram had an MBA in finance from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and formerly worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Sony Pictures. But he had been unemployed for several months, according to local media reports citing authorities.

Investigators also determined that he was at least the part-owner of a financial holding company, SKGL LLC, which was incorporated in Nevada, ostensibly to hold his family assets.

The family appears to have been well-off at one time. According to the Los Angeles Times, they sold their home in Northridge in 2006 for $750,000, making a sizeable profit on a home they purchased in 1997 for $274,000. They had also taken out two loans for $241,400.

Rajaram once made more than $1.2 million in a London-based venture fund before he ran out of luck playing the stock market, reports said. A 2001 article in The Daily Telegraph of London, under the headline ''Bust, but big bucks for the big boys,'' called Rajaram a ''winner'' in a deal for NanoUniverse, a LA- and London-based venture fund taken public on the London Stock Exchange. For a 12,500-pound investment, Rajaram, one of the company's founders, received 875,000 pounds -- or about $1.2 million in 2001 dollars -- after a voluntary liquidation, the newspaper reported.

Although the family rented their current 2800-sq foot home, they lived a typical upper class life. They had two cars, a Chevy Suburban and a Lexus SUV and they reportedly paid their rent on time.

The incident sent shock waves through the neighbourhood, the larger Indian community and American financial world on a day the monetary world saw yet another bloodbath. Indians are widely known and recognized as the most successful ethnic community in the U.S with the highest per capita income among all segments of the population, including Whites.

But the country is now starting to hear of many hard luck stories, including among Indians, although nothing like this. And not in the City of Angels, far removed from the frenzied financial world of New York.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Rajaram’s extreme action stemmed from the ongoing economic turmoil, but even the police, unusually, referred to the troubled times. And as the story burnt the wires, the online community debated the incident heatedly.

''All the talk of bailouts for these big financial companies take the front page on all the papers, but the impact of the economic crisis on individuals is sometimes overlooked. This is a sad and tragic reminder of how quickly people can spiral into a horrible place,'' one blogger lamented.

Neighbours said the Rajarams were a quiet, decent family who pretty much kept to themselves and did not socialize much. The eldest son Krishna, a Fulbright scholar majoring in business economics at his father’s alma mater UCLA, appeared to be visiting home at the time of the incident.

Local school authorities said the two younger kids were also extremely bright and the parents had been very much involved in their education. The family did not appear to be particularly troubled, although some neighbors told reporters that Rajaram was pretty intense.

According to the police, there was no evidence that Rajaram had sought help from mental health professionals. However, the context of the letters and the fact Rajaram had purchased the handgun as recently as September 16 indicated that his actions were ''premeditated,'' they said.

''He had become despondent over his financial situation,'' Deputy Chief Moore related. In one of his letters, he talked of two options: taking his own life or taking his own life and that of his family. ''He talked himself into the second strategy,'' Moore said.

One of the neighbours reported that Rajaram had spoken to her twice in the last two weeks asking whether she would be home this past weekend. He urged her to keep her side windows shut because he had heard of burglaries in the area. He seemed nervous -- shaking, pacing and taking notes on a notepad as he spoke to her, she told the LA Times. She surmised after the bloody massacre that he was trying to have her close her windows so that she wouldn't hear anything.

Apparently, no one did, because it was not until Monday when another neighbour rang the Rajarams' bell to remind Subasri, who worked at a local pharmacy, about the carpool ride did the tragic incident come to light.





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