Politics & the Nation
  • An interesting debate on whether or not the accused should be jailed before trial and conviction
    • Take a look at this debate by two eminent personalities on the issue.  Worth our attention.
Finance & Economy
  • Credit default swaps to be allowed in India
    • Credit default swaps, an insurance instrument partly blamed for the credit crisis and the near sinking of US insurer AIG, will be permitted in India from October with banks, primary dealers and non-banking financial companies’ participation and some strict rules to prevent abuse.
    • The instrument, popularly known as CDS, which promises the holder payment of money to the insured amount of bond holding in case of a default, is aimed at developing the domestic corporate bond market.
    • The new guidelines that will come to force from October 24, is framed with safeguards to prevent abuse of position by financial intermediaries to boost their revenues as it happened with currency derivatives that sank many small companies.
    • Only the market makers or commercial banks will be allowed to buy and sell credit default swaps while the ‘users’ can only buy credit protection, but will not be allowed to sell them. Users may be insurance companies, housing finance companies, provident funds, listed corporates and foreign institutional investors. RBI, which received comments from public, has built-in protection for naive and put the onus on the sellers of CDS to ensure that they educate the buyer on what they are getting into.
    • The users cannot hold these contracts without having eligible underlying bonds, though the market makers can buy protection without having the underlying bond. The users cannot buy CDS for amounts higher than the face value of the corporate bonds held by them.
    • Though credit default swaps is only allowed on listed corporate bonds, the central bank has made an exception for rated but unlisted bonds of infrastructure companies.
  • Some titbits relating to retail in India
    • It is estimated that about 40% of all farm products in India rot by the time they reach the final point of sale.  
    • India today allows 51% FDI in single brand retail and 100% for wholesale.
    • The share of organised retail in India is a tiny 4% of the total, opposed to 20% in China, 30% in Indonesia and 55% in Malaysia.
  • India is facing a problem of plenty in respect of foodgrains
    • As of May 1, India’s food stocks stand at 27.8 million tonnes of rice, 31.4 million tonnes of wheat and 0.1 million tonnes of coarse grains, adding up to a food mountain twice as large as is required by official buffer stocking norms.
  • What is becoming of the Pakistan state?
    • Take a look at this assessment from Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Nuclear Physics at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad:
    • Now, while it is true that the al Qaeda is losing support in Pakistan, this country has become a battleground in which there are several contending jihadi groups. Some are pro-Saudi and pro-Pakistan, like the Lashkare-Toiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen. Others, like the Tehreek-e-Taliban and the Al-Qaida, are fully engaged in fighting the Pakistani and Saudi establishments. Still others, like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, are largely focused upon killing Shias. In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, there are many more groups, some of which are more criminal than ideological. It is a terrible mess. Clearly, Pakistan is becoming a dangerous place for many groups. It is most dangerous for Ahmadis, followed by Hindus and Christians. But even for Shias, who had initially been enthusiastic about Islamisation of Pakistan, things have become very difficult. Pakistan has slowly turned into a religious extremist country, although there are still islands of tolerance left here and there. This is the direct consequence of the Pakistani state's desire in earlier decades to breed militancy within its borders.
Language Lessons
  • hoity-toity: Adjective
    • Affectedly genteel
    • eg: The staff found it difficult to deal with the hoity-toity snooty clients.
  • hoi polloi: Noun
    • The common people generally