01.12.2006

  • Today is World Aids Day. Don’t miss the special information that I have covered in today’s Discover-It here.
  • Meaning of Barista
    • The name given to a person whose full-time job is brewing coffee.
    • Since approximately 1990, the term barista (the Italian word for bartender - masculine or feminine; plural: baristi (masculine) or bariste (feminine)) has been used in English to denote a professional maker of espresso coffee beverages. Prior to that time, the less elegant prevailing term was "espresso puller." The shift of terminology probably comes, at least in part, from the fact that most espresso machines manufactured since the 1980s no longer require pulling down on a big handle.
  • Since when did the quarterly computation of GDP data start?
    • From the first quarter of 1996-97 by Central Statistical Organization
    • Our GDP has grown by 9.2% in Q2 this year.
  • More details about the recommendations made by Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee on status of Muslim minorities in India.
    • I have covered this on two occassions earlier:
    • India has a population of about 150 mln Muslims.
    • The percentage of Muslims in government employment is 4.9% of the total of 88,44,669 employees.
    • The number of Muslims in security agencies was 3.2% -- 60,517 out of a total of 18,79,134 in CRPF, CISF, BSF, SSB and ‘other agencies’. It is not clear whether this figure includes the armed forces.
    • Muslims in the country have three groups in terms of their social structure: Ashrafs, Ajlafs and Arzals.
    • Recommendations:
      • The Committee recommended that the Arzals whose traditional occupation is similar to that of SCs, may be designated as most backward community and given reservation.
      • Equal Opportunities Commission along lines of UK’s Commission For Racial Equality to redress minority grievances.
      • Madrassa graduates to be made eligible for government job tests
      • Rational delimitation to raise the share of Muslims in Parliament and legislatures
      • Minority representation on interview panel to enable more government jobs for Muslims
      • Muslims to get better access and share in priority sector credit and micro credit schemes
  • Dr. Ambedkar statue ‘desecration’ leads to riots
    • Three persons were killed at least 60 injured in the protests that followed the ‘desecration’ of the Dr. Ambedkar’s statue in Kanpur.
  • What is the extant peak customs duty?
    • 12.5%
  • What is export promotion capital goods scheme?
    • It extends the benefit of zero import duty against an export obligation.
  • How much funding would need to be raised for financing the infrastructure requirements during the XI Plan?
    • Estimates show that about $70 bn need to be organized per annum for infrastructure investments in the 11th Plan period.

From private capital

$ 15 bn

From World Bank, ADB and other multilateral / bilateral agencies

$ 8 bn

From Public Expenditure

$ 47 bn

    • Experts suggest that there are four key imperatives for resource raising during the XI Plan:
      • Create attractive investment opportunities to channelize FDI and domestic capital.
      • Engage aggressively with multilateral agencies to secure commitments totaling not less than $8 bn per annum for each year of the Plan.
      • Structure large-scale projects (like Rail Freight Corridor, NHDP and Bharat Nirman) involving substantial public expenditure and implement fresh ‘out-of-the-box’ initiatives to raise savings and resources for this purpose to a level of $47 bn per annum.
      • Targetise all these activities and monitor achievement on a quarter to quarter basis.
    • The above is excerpted from the article that appeared in ET today. I recommend reading the full article. Read it here.
  • Our Indian legal system is stated to be adversarial in nature. What does this mean?
    • It is based on the principle that if the prosecutor prosecutes as aggressively as she can and the defendant’s lawyer is committed only to protecting the interests of her client, then the ensuing conflicting arguments will necessarily throw up the truth.
  • Some facts about coal liquefaction technologies
    • Coal liquefaction is a chemical process of converting coal into clean-burning liquid hydrocarbons, such as synthetic crude oil and methanol.
    • It is estimated that the oil generated from such technologies would cost about $45 to $50 a barrel.
    • About 30-35 mt of coal is required to produce 1 mt of synthetic crude oil under the coal liquefaction route.
    • Experts feel that this kind of ratio is not feasible to undertake this technology, in view of the fact that we produce only about 400 mt of coal per annum.
  • What is an offset policy in procurements made by government?
    • An offset is a mechanism to partially compensate (offset) the significant outflow of a buying country’s resources in large purchases of foreign goods and services by either re-investing a part of the money or placing orders locally.
    • The offset clause will apply to all capital acquisitions of Rs. 300 crores and above across three categories – buy, buy and make and buy-make and transfer technology by Indian defence establishments.
    • Initially 30% of the indicative cost of acquisition will be the minimum value of the offset. What this implies is any vendor supplying equipment of munitions worth Rs. 300 crores or more will have to either invest Rs. 90 crore in the country or purchase stuff worth the same amount from local suppliers.

o That the Govt. has decided to setup defence offset agency is reported sometime in February by newspapers.

    • The 30% offset clause in all major aircraft deals is expected to help in building world-class aviation infrastructure in the country. The total value of about 437 aircraft (aeroplanes and helicopters) to be procured by Government agencies like Air-India, Indian Airlines and our Defence establishment is going to cost about Rs. 47,290 cr. This means that about Rs. 14,187 cr worth of offset would be available for Indian businesses.
  • What is the wind power capital of the country?
    • Tamilnadu

2 comments:

Ramakrishna said...

A critique of the recommendations and facts about Muslim development noted by Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar in his article on 06.12.2006:

Rural Muslim poverty ratio fell by a huge 12 percentage points between 1993-94 and 2004-05, much faster than for Hindus. Thus a vast majority of the Muslims have done extraordinarily well after 1993-94.

For a share of 13.8% in the population of India, Muslims have a representation of 5% in government service. Can this really be called discrimination?

The Sachar Committee seems to have failed to look at areas where Muslims have fared well. It ought to have drawn some lessons from their successes in those areas.

The lessons to be drawn include:
1. Intense market driven competition is the best antidote to discrimination.
2. In non-competitive areas and those decided by political fiat, decision makers can exercise prejudice, discretion and patronage with impunity.
3. Politicians woo different communities and castes as vote banks, and reward them whenever possible. The Committee also has fallen into the same trap.

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