- Dear money policy
- RBI has hiked the CRR (part of the deposits that banks have to keep with it as cash) to 6.5%. It has also hiked the repo rate (rate at which banks borrow from RBI) to 7.75%.
- In addition, it has also halved the interest it pays on CRR balances to 0.5%.
- These high interest rates are sure to attract international money into Indian shores. That will make the rupee dearer i.e., its value vis-à-vis the dollar is going to go up.
- A good HIV/AIDS initiative from the Indian industry
- About 1000 companies in
have joined together and signed a HIV/AIDS policy. India
- The policy mandates companies to provide a safe and healthy work environment, educate employees on the HIV/AIDS, maintain confidentiality about HIV positive employees and ensure that they are not discriminated against in the work place.
- Iran-UK stand-off
- Iranian defence forces have rounded up 15 British soldiers (including a woman soldier) in the Iranian waters a week back.
refutes the charge and says that they were patrolling in the Iraqi waters. Britain is yet to release any of the soldiers. Iran
- 123 agreement
- The nuclear agreement that is to be signed between
and US is often referred to as the 123 agreement. Any idea why is it called so? India
- Today’s paper says that it is named after a section the US Atomic Energy Act.
- Mergers & Acquisition scene: global
- Sometime back somebody (I think it was Roshini) was enquiring about the M&A scene in
. But today’s paper has a good article on the global M&A scene. It is sourced from www.bloomberg.com. India
- It says that mergers and acquisitions worldwide are a record $1.07 trillion so far this year. For them, usually year is a calendar year, not our financial year. In the very first quarter of the year, this is a record.
- Riches sunken booties are off
Spain is believed to be one of the world’s riches underwater treasure houses. More than 700 wrecks dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries are estimated to lie in its waters, many of them possibly loaded with gold and silver plundered in Spain Latin America.
- Out of all those, the HMS Sussex which sank in the
in 1694 is believed to be worth more than $4.4 billion. The ship went down with 500 men, 80 cannons and an estimated 10 tonnes of gold coins on board. Straitof Gibraltar
- There are is recovery expedition launched for this. If this is found, the private company Odyssey Marina Exploration will share the booty with the British government, the legal owners of the ship.
- Deficit lingo
- Fiscal deficit: difference between the total expenditure and the non-borrowed receipts.
- Primary deficit: difference between the fiscal deficit and interest payments.
- What are geo-textiles?
- While reading today’s paper I came across the word geo-textiles. A quick search on the web for the meaning of this word handed me the two following definitions:
- synthetic fabric for use in landscapes as a soil covering to smother weeds or prevent them from germinating.
- textile products that are used in the ground.
- Do you know the total stock of money that is there in Indian markets today?
- It is Rs. 32,06,298 crores. This is as on March 16, 2007 as given out by RBI.
- Should government stop the private trade from acquiring food grains?
- Recent paper reports indicated that there were efforts by some government mandarins to ensure that farmers supply their wheat to FCI first and that if they don’t do so, it is quite likely that there will be a ban on procurement of wheat by private sector. Government has done well to clarify that there is no such ban contemplated.
- Government right now is facing a dilemma – that of achieving conflicting goals. Ensuring that farmers get remunerative prices and consumers get cheaper prices for food grains.
- It is facing this because it is using only one policy tool – MSP (Minimum Support Price) based procurement. It is not allowing the other tool – that of the market forces – to work its way.
- If markets are allowed to work their way, the increasing prices of food grains sends a signal for encouraging more production. The extra income from the increased price realization will find its way into the efforts at increasing productivity.
- It should stop trying to shield every consumer from high prices. It is only the poor and the deserving who need to be shielded from high prices of food grains. If its procurement cannot fill the PDS shops with adequate grain for this purpose, then it should procure the grain at market prices and fulfill its obligation to the needy and deserving.
- Remember Kaavya Viswanathan?
- She is the 17 year old girl (studying at
) who wrote the famous (now notorious) book “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life”. Harvard University
- She was accused of plagiarism. The publishers withdrew the book.
- Anil Kumble announced his retirement from One Day International game. He was quick to add that he is available for Test matches.
- He is
’s highest wicket taker in both forms of the game – 547 in 113 Tests and 337 wickets in 271 ODIs. India
- World wheat production hits a trough
- Wheat production dropped to 593 mn tonnes in 2006-07 from a peak of 629 mn tonnes in 2004-05.
- This at a time, when
is looking at possible imports of wheat! India to import about 3 mn tonnes of pulses India
- Production of pulses is expected to be about 14.5 mn tonnes in 2007-08, which is the same as last year.
- To ensure continued availability, PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) such as STC, PEC, Nafed and MMTC may be asked to import pulses in the coming months.
- How much do Indians spend on food?
- As much as 55% of rural household’s income goes towards food. In the case of urban households it is about 45%.
- What does this suggest to you? When a large share of your income goes towards the basic necessities, you will have less ability to spare your energies for higher pursuits. These ‘higher’ pursuits may be related to leisure or intellect. When your energies are directed at higher intellectual pursuits, the country witnesses geometric progression on scientific and economic spheres. When the same are directed at leisure related activities, it will surely see cultural progress. But some will see signs of ‘red’ in this ‘cultural progress’.
- The quota politics again
- With the Supreme Court ruling that OBC quota in elite institutions is stayed, it is that time of the life for all to indulge in quota politics.
- In this context some observations worth our notice are:
- The Constitution provides for a special dispensation for socially and economically backward classes and the court is not inclined to accept the government’s thesis of equating caste with class.
- The court wants both social and economic factors to be given due weight in identifying the beneficiaries of reservations and has urged the government to proceed to do so on the basis of actual data.
- Reservation has come to mean that castes are ‘entitled’ to government jobs in proportion to their numbers in the population. Obviously this meaning has no basis in the Constitution and runs counter to any commonly understood meaning of meritocracy.
- “Reservations” is a very hot topic. After continued listening to both sides of the argument, one is sure to be left perplexed. If we go by a search of the root causes, it proves very illusory. Dr. Ambedkar let a genie out of the bottle; nobody seems to be having the guts to even think of talking about putting the genie back in the bottle and capping it up.
- Drug free asthma treatment
- Scientists in
have come up with a process called bronchial thermoplasty in which tiny probes emitting radio waves on wires placed inside the lungs burn away the lung tissue blocking the airways. Britain
- Rowan Atkinson
- Seen Mr. Bean, the TV comic? Mr. Atkinson who plays the character of Mr. Bean is going to bid goodbye to playing that character.
- Sunita Williams
- Come June, the Indian origin female astronaut is set to break the longest space stay record.
- A little more on problems with the DEPB scheme
- We have been covering about the DEPB (Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme, an export incentive measure of the Government of India) scheme for quite some time. Let’s look at some more to understand where it falls foul of the WTO regime.
- WTO norms lay down that reimbursement should be made on actuals, but in the case of DEPB an exporter can get benefits from the scheme even if he does not import anything. The problem with reimbursing exporters on the basis of actual input taxes paid by them is the fact that there are a plethora of taxes existing at thestate level and the rates differ from state to state. Moreover, the Centre doesn’t have the authority to reimburse state taxes.
- Tidbits about Japanese culture
- We can say Japanese culture is about Sake, Sushi and Sakura. All starting with the letter ‘S’ you see!!
- Sake (pronounced "SAH-KEH" in Japanese, but often "SAH-ki" by English speakers) is a Japanese alcoholic beverage, brewed from rice.
- In Japanese cuisine, sushi is a food made of vinegared rice combined with a topping or filling of fish, seafood, vegetables, or egg. The topping may be raw, cooked, or marinated; and may be served scattered in a bowl of rice, rolled in a strip of seaweed, laid onto hand-formed clumps of rice, or stuffed in a small tofu pouch.
- Sakura is cherry blossoms. They bloom during the March-April period for a fortnight. This is when usually Japan picnics.
- Can you notice something similar in
? Remember Neela Kurinji flowers of Kerala? They blossom once in 12 years and it is a rare treat to the eyes. When they blossom, it is a hectic tourist season for the Kerala state. India
- A little about Indian IT players
- While there are more than 700 IT companies in India, the top three (TCS, Infosys & Wipro) account for more than 40% of total IT services export revenue in the current fiscal. Just two years ago this figure was 26%.
- Satyam, Cognizant and HCL are also in the billion dollar league but are straddling the space that puts them in the middle of the top three and the rest of the industry. They may go either way in course of time.
- Some of the severe challenges that the smaller IT firms face include:
- Diminishing brands that fail to attract the best talent. Smaller firms cannot get the best slots in hiring season; they have to be content with less fancied slots. Thus they get a pool of people who are next to best.
- A dispersed client base that inhibits smaller firms from building up domain skills. As smaller firms tend to do any job that comes their way, they tend to spread their assets too thin. They will not be able to invest enough in building domain expertise.
- A hand to mouth business situation that blocks future strategy development. Slow growth, reduced operating margins and an inability to add new accounts characterize this troubled segment.
- What is temping?
- Hiring people either for a short duration or on a project basis rather than taking them on as full time employees.
- Astra’s third flight successful
India’s air-to-air missile, developed by DRDL, . Hyderabad plans world’s highest airport China
- At Ngari, which is 4,334 meters above sea level.
- This place is in
- US-Russia stand-off on missile shield
- Russia denounced the US plans to deploy missile interceptors in Polan and a radar system in the Czech Republic as a threat to its security and ridiculed the US explanations that the shield was needed to guard against missile attacks from Iran and North Korea.
Russia’s protests against the missile defence have caused a split among the Washington’s NATO allies, with Polish and Czech leaders welcoming the USplans, and Germanyand Franceurging consultations with . Russia
- Finally US agreed to hold talks with
on the issue. Russia
- World Aquatic Championships at
- Another world record for Michael Phelphs
- 200 meters individual medley 1:55.98
- Poly Umrigar inducted into Legend’s Club
- At the CK Nayudu room in Cricket Club of India, Mumbai.
- World Cup cricket
- Lasith Malinga of
achieved the rare distinction of taking four wickets in four consecutive balls of his over. Sri Lanka Sri Lankaplayed against and lost the match. South Africa
- Rupee touches a 7 year high against the dollar
- It was trading at 43.01 against the dollar.
- Exporters are seen postponing their receivables.
- Supreme Court on sex
- The Court observed that unilateral decision to refuse intercourse for considerable period without there being any physical incapacity or valid reason may amount to mental cruelty.
- The Court was ruling in a case of divorce filed by a husband Samar Ghosh against his wife Jaya Ghosh.
- “The Da Vinci Code”
- This blockbuster novel was authored by Dan Brown.
- It is in news because Michael Baignet and Richard Leigh, authors of “The Holy Blood” and “The Holy Grail” have claimed that Dan Brown stole their ideas for writing his novel. They lost the case in the British Court of Appeal.
- While we grapple with inflation pressures, what does Japan grapple with?
- Deflationary pressures.
- The second largest economy of the world was faced with a core inflation (which excludes food items) of zero in January.
’s port capacity India
- Non major ports in
have about 200 mn tonnes cpacity, while major ports have about 456 mn tonnes capacity. India
- We have 187 non major ports in all. Of them only 61 handle cargo and have about 97 berths.
- About currency coins
- The one rupee coins in our country are made of steel.
- Two rupee and five rupee coins are made of copper nickel combine.
- Kolkata witnessed a sudden shortage of 2 rupee coins of late. The reason was that the intrinsic value (the value of the metal they have in them) of these coins is found to be much more than Rs. 2. Hence people start stashing the coins and melt them to sell the metal to get more value.
- This prompted the RBI to shift the production of these coins also to steel. As a precautionary measure, the RBI is thinking of shifting the Rs. 5 coins also to steel.
- International Conference for Promotion of Enterprises, is a UN initiative.
- A three day workshop and networking forum for banks is being held at
to enable Indian banks to have access to international guarantees for SME lending. Lubljana, Slovenia
- On CPI(M)
- I think I can be accused of being a CPI(M) baiter; can’t I? But let me state that I am fair to every party. I treat every political party with equidistance.
- So, in support of my statement, I would like to bring your attention to an excellent piece written today by TK Arun. We have noted for quite some time that only CPI(M) is being bashed. Read his defence of the party in full here.
- What impressed me is his argument that it is the states with dominant communist presence that have made greater progress in realizing a democratic polity than most others. He cites four indicators to buttress his argument:
- Human development, which is a good indicator of dispersal of political power
- Land reforms
- Strength of local governments – panchayats and municipalities
- Status of marginal sections – minorities, scheduled castes and tribes
- On all these counts, Kerala leads the rest of the country. And
West Bengaland Tripura are in top performers’ company.
- Good argument. Can’t find fault with. Let’s be fair. CPI(M) is as fallible as any other party in the country. Post Nandigram, it should stop taking the moral high ground and work in a constructive role with the entire polity. If it wants to highlight state excesses, it should also highlight the excesses against the state and the general populace. It cannot and should not take a lopsided view of the ‘march of communism’. Ultimately it is democracy which has to triumph, the space which is allowing it to operate in the first place.
- A very good article on gas availability and projections for our country
- “Gasping for Gas” is a well researched article that appeared in today’s ET. Read it in full here.
- Don’t miss out the data that is presented in the article.
- Against our power sector’s requirement of 61 MMSCMD (Million Metric Standard Cubic Meters per Day) of gas, there is a supply of only about 40 MMSCMD.
- Uncertainties about gas availability have forced us to plan for a meager 2,114 MW gas based power generation capacity addition during the 11th plan.
- The total demand for all sectors wanting gas supply is pegged at 179 MMSCMD in 2007-08.
- Plant Load Factor
- Sorry, if I had been using some shortcuts (abbreviations) in my writings. Those who read my notings everyday, would have known most of them by now. Today we look at PLF. It is arrived at by calculating the actual power produced against the maximum possible, by a power plant.
- Normally we take pride whenever a plant reaches the highest PLF. This is not possible in all types of plants.
- Corporate jets
- What is the total number of airplanes that are there in
with all the carriers? We noted on 3rd February, 2007 that there are about 280 civilian aircraft in the country. India
- Do you know that our corporate
owns in all about 150 planes privately!! The number is expected to touch 450 by 2010. India
- A corporate jet may cost anywhere between Rs. 25 crores to Rs. 300 crores.
- Major manufacturers of corporate jets are:
- Bombardier –
- Embraer –
- Gulfstream, Cessna, Raytheon – US
- Dassault Aviation (manufactures Falcons) –
- World record in 200 m butterfly swimming
- Michael Phelps has clocked 1.52:09 in the ongoing World Aquatic Championships at
. Melbourne, Australia
- Incidentally, Mark Spitz is the world record holder of having won 7 gold medals in single Olympics.
o It is the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or EURATOM Treaty) and is one of the founding treaties of the European Union. The Treaty was originally drafted in the 1950s and addresses the issues in the field of nuclear power that were relevant at that time. These include:
§ radiation protection of the work force and the public;
§ supply of nuclear fissile materials for developing nuclear power sector;
§ safeguarding of this nuclear fissile materials to prevent it from being used for unauthorised military purposes; and
§ general aspects such as research and dissemination of information.
o Under the provisions of the EURATOM Treaty, the European Commission acquired the status of a supranational regulatory authority in three areas: radiation protection, supply of nuclear fissile materials and nuclear safeguards.
· Exclusive Economic Zone
- In international maritime law, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a seazone extending from a state's coast over which the state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources. This is the zone within which the coastal State has the right to explore and exploit, and the responsibility to conserve and manage, the living and non-living resources.
- Generally a state's EEZ extends 200 nautical miles (370.4 kilometers) out from its coast, except where resulting points would be closer to another country.
- This is subject to the legal regime established in Part V of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This convention was signed in 1982.
- This was formerly called the Fishery Conservation Zone.
· Cap on Exchangeable Bonds
- Whether it is ECBs (External Commercial Borrowings) or Exchangeable Bonds, there will be a cap of $500 mn for a single company and $22 bn for all companies in the financial year.
- EB is a financial derivative that is introduced in Budget 2007-08. It will enable companies to raise capital by unlocking value in their strategic holdings in group companies. EBs will enable companies to raise money without actually selling shares at the time the bonds are issued.
- There is an overall cap of $22 bn on ECBs for the current financial year.
- Types of twins
- This is the latest type of twins discovered recently. Two sperms fused with a single egg. Results in semi-identical twins.
- Fraternal twins: two eggs each are fertilized in the womb by two different sperm cells.
- Identical twins: one egg from the mother is fertilized by one sperm from the father, and sometime early in the development the embryo splits and two foetuses grow.
- Power of QRs to be reintroduced
- With India readying itself to commit to lower tariffs on both agriculture and industrial products in the on-going Doha negotiations of the WTO, the government has felt the need to equip itself with the power to impose QRs (Quantitative Restrictions), if required. As it is intended to be a purely temporary safeguard measure,
is not expecting to fall foul of the WTO norms. India
- Therefore the government is amending the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act of 1992 for this purpose.
- Thrissur Pooram
- It is a cultural festival organized for three days in Kerala every year during April-May.
- On the third day, locally made firecrackers worth an estimated Rs. 1 crore are fired.
- Two competing temple committees – Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi Devaswoms – organize this festival. They had to approach the Supreme Court as the use of loud speakers is banned between 10 PM and 6 AM.
- The Court allowed the conduct of the festival with certain restrictions.
- Drugs market and price control
- Control free drugs account for over two thirds of all drugs sold in the market.
- The ministry of chemicals and fertilizers is planning to fix trade margins of control free drugs. It proposes to fix a margin of 15% for wholesalers and 35% for retailers. There is already a cap of 8 to 16% on controlled drugs.
- With this move, the pharma companies now have to think twice before doling out huge discounts to the retailers. Discounts over and above these margins will be recovered from the manufacturers.
- There are over 6 lakh chemists and 20,000 pharama companies in the country.
- Blueberries help fight cancer
- Scientists found a new compound – a natural antioxidant -- in them that helps fight bowel cancer and diabetes.
- They have an ingredient called pterostilbene which lowers blood cholesterol.
- Power companies to get continued tax break under section 80-IA beyond March 2010
- During the 10th Plan, power capacity addition was a poor 5.1%. The 11th Plan target to add about 68,869 MW. Of this around 31,345 MW is already under construction. If the targeted growth is achieved it means a growth of 9% in capacity addition during the plan period.
- As large scale capacity additions are the need of the hour, the government is thinking of extending the tax exemption facility up to March 2017.
- ADB forecasts
’s growth at 8% for the next fiscal India
- Monetary tightening and inadequate infrastructure have made the ADB come out with this conservative forecast.
- Railways to develop high-speed freight corridors
- These are going to be product specific corridors. It is eyeing product lines like iron ore, coal and petroleum products.
- East-East corridor: covers Jharkhand,
West Bengaland Orissa for iron ore, steel and coal movements.
- South-South corridor:
Goato Chennai, for iron ore movement.
- North-South corridor:
to Chennai, for raw material and finished goods. Delhi
- East-West corridor: Eastern states to Western parts of the country.
- What is the peanut bowl of
- Bharuch District of
- “The most unkindest cut of all” – Mark Antony
- This is how he described the wound inflicted by Brutus on Caesar.
- This is how TK Arun describes the restriction of tax benefit for venture capital funds to only certain sunrise sectors.
- Pass-through: The income generated by the venture fund will be taxed not from the venture fund but at the time when it is passed on to those who have invested in the venture fund.
- Budget 2007 restricted this pass-through to only 9 of the sectors.
- Why is IMF becoming irrelevant?
- A very good article by SSA Aiyar. Read it in full here.
- I covered detailed precis on this in today’s Discover It blog. Read it here.
- Did you think that the subprime mortgage lending was a problem only of the
- Rajrishi Singhal says that it afflicts the Indian housing market also. Many home loans were dispensed to sub-prime borrowers in the rush to capture market share.
- The RBI needs to step in and stem the rot before it can become a systemic risk.
- Defaults on sub-prime housing loans also might blow holes in bank balance sheets and could impact lending to other sectors.
- What is policy trading in life insurance business?
- This refers to assigning life insurance policies to investors for a consideration.
- Normally a life insurance policy acquires surrender value after payment of premium for three years. Investors seek out policyholders, who own policies with surrender value and which have lapsed. They then enter into an agreement, whereby the policyholder assigns the policy and transfers all the benefits for a consideration. In most cases, the investor pays more than the surrender value to the policyholder.
- For the investor this is an investment opportunity. For the seller, this gives more money.
- But the practice is fraught with certain risks:
- The practice is not suited to social milieu prevalent in
- It goes against the principles of insurable interest and amounts to gambling.
- It creates a moral hazard. The principle of insurable interest requires that the beneficiary of an insurance policy should suffer an emotional or financial loss for the insured event to occur. This could lead the investor of the policy to put the original policyholder in a situation which would result in the insurable event to occur.
- 32nd Annual conference of IOSCO
- International Organisation of Securities Commissions is being held at Mumbai from April 9th to 12th.
- IOSCO represents securities regulators from all over the world. It sets the standard which ensures that there are certain benchmarks in regulation. It helps lesser developed markets to find their feet in the international space.
- SEBI is organizing this conference.
- Annual ATP awards
- Roger Federer gets 4 awards!!!
- Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award for his charity and volunteer work.
- Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award.
- Player of the Year award.
- Fans favourite award.
- Novak Djokovic of
- He was voted the most improved player.
- Benjamin Becker of
- Newcomer of the year.
- Mardy Fish of the
- Comeback player of the year
- Bob and Mike Bryan
- Doubles team of the year.
- Issues in the 123 Agreement with the
- The main contentious issue is the reprocessing of spent fuel.
wants access to reprocessing technology and material. India USlaws ban export of reprocessing technology but exception was made to Japan, Euratom and . Switzerland wants to be included in that category. India
- Manjunath killer gets death sentence
- Manjunath Shanmugam, the IIM graduate and employee of IOC was shot dead at a petrol bunk in Gola in Lakhimpur Kheri district on November 19, 2005 after he threatened to cancel the licence of the petrol bunk for selling spurious fuel.
- The petrol bunk owner Pawan Kumar Mittal was awarded the death sentence buy the district judge. It has to be confirmed by the High Court.
- Seven other accused were given life sentences.
- What is a tiara?
- When you read something like this – “Sushmita Sen handed over her tiara to xxx” – what does this ‘tiara’ stand for?
- It means the crown that a beauty pageant winner holds.
- It is generally a semi-circular band, often metal-made and decorated with jewels. It is worn by women around their head or on the forehead as a circlet. They are frequently used to "crown" the winners of beauty pageants. In western countries, a bride often wears a tiara as part of her wedding outfit.
- Chocolates pep up blood flow
- Studies showed that dark chocolates improve the function of blood vessels.
- World’s oldest camera
- Daguerreotype, a wooden sliding box camera produced by the
company Susse Freres in 1839 is believed to be the world’s oldest camera. It is about to be auctioned. Paris
- Invented by French chemist Lois Daguerre, a Daguerreotype is an early type of photograph. It produces a direct image on a polished silver surface that bears a coating of silver halide particles, deposited by iodine bromide or chlorine vapours. As there was no negative original like in modern photography, no copies of pictures could be made. The process was widespread in Europe and the
for about one decade after it was supplanted by different techniques. US
- Egmont Group and
’s joining it India
- The Egmont Group (a collection of financial intelligence units of various countries) which now has 101 countries was established in 1995. It came about as a result of efforts by intelligence agencies in a few countries which decided to establish an informal group for cooperation between specialized agencies called FIUs (Financial Intelligence Units) on money laundering.
- Since the decision was taken at the
Egmont Palacein , the group came to be known by that name. Brussels established an FIU in 2004. It collects data on suspicious or unusual financial transactions. India
- Despite the establishment of an FIU, Indian authorities find themselves on a weak footing for eliciting information on money laundering activities from other countries because of lack of MOU with its counterparts in most countries.
is set to join this group. India
- Do you know that
has passed a law that would make right to private property legally enforceable for the first time since the 1949 revolution? China
- I am surprised!!!
- What is Junker capitalism?
- It is a 19th century Prussian (Now Germany) model. In this landlords and companies expropriated the peasantry from above and legalized property so acquired as their own.
- NPAs of Indian banks
- Net NPAs (Non Performing Assets) of
’s commercial banks have declined to less than 1.5% of net advances at the end of March 2006. Gross NPAs still remain high at 3.34% of the gross advances. India ’s scheduled commercial banks have Rs. 51,815 crores of NPAs on their books as on March 31, 2006. India
- CA Championship for Golf
- Won by Tiger Woods for sixth time.
- Government thinking of allowing foreign portfolio investors to invest directly
- So far, foreign portfolio investors have been using the PN (Participatory Note) route to invest in the Indian stock markets. Government fears that this is route could be used for money laundering. So, it is thinking of widening the definition of investors who qualify to be registered as sub-accounts with FIIs. A sub-account includes foreign institutions, corporates and funds, which are established outside
and on whose behalf investments, are made by a foreign institutional investor registered with SEBI. India
- Sir Creek dispute with
- I have covered about this boundary dispute with
sometime back. Read it here. Pakistan
- The latest development is that
Indiaand have completed the proposed joint survey and exchanged maps on March 22. But there is no likelihood of the dispute being resolved because Pakistan links the resolution of this dispute with the rest of the border disputes. Pakistan
- If both the countries do not resolve this dispute before 2009, both countries would lose the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) benefits.
Indiarefuses to accept the Pakistani claim to the green line, as it would mean a loss of about 250 square miles of EEZ, while Pakistanhas rejected ’s proposal for mid-channel demarcation, saying that this approach is adopted for navigable channels; but Sir Creek is not navigable. India
- Even in a loss, this is how you can see a brighter side. Look at the bean counters and their ability to portray how much we save as a nation for losing the World Cup.
- Textile cess may go
- The textile committee cess, which is presently being levied at 0.05% on an ad valorem basis is likely to be removed.
- Rs. 52 crores was collected through this cess in 2005-06. It was being used to fund the activities of the textile committee, which provides testing consultancy services for ensuring quality standards.
- ‘Target plus’ scheme
- The fate of exporters wishing to avail benefits under this controversial scheme hangs in balance, due to the differences between the finance and commerce ministries.
- The scheme was originally envisaged by the commerce ministry. It envisages that the goods allowed to be imported should have a broad nexus or connection with the product exported. The finance ministry wants this nexus to be close. In other words, it wants the duty-free imports to be restricted to inputs used in the manufacturing the items exported under the scheme.
- Dwell time
- Is the idle time that ships spend at the ports for services.
- Currently it is about 3.5 to 5.5 days. The proposal is to cut these times to about 0.9 to 1.3 days by 2010.
- An inter-ministerial report on this aspect wanted major ports to implement vessel traffic management systems for round-the-clock operations.
- National telemedicine grid
- Originally proposed by ISRO, it is meant to take medical facilities via a network to the grassroot level.
- Poverty on the retreat?
- The poverty ratio in 1993-94 was 36% as compared with 27.5% in 2004-05, as per the latest estimates on poverty released by the government.
- Vanaspati business on the decline; cause FTAs with neighbours
- Vanaspati is flooding Indian markets from
Nepal, Bhutanand . Sri Lanka
- Nearly 150 of the total of 264 installed units of vanaspati have closed shop. Vanaspati production has plummeted to 11 lakh tonnes as against the installed capacity of 50 lakh tonnes.
- Is mandatory IPO grading a bad idea?
- Today ET editorial argues that it is a bad idea. And that SEBI’s role as regulator is not primarily to protect the retail investor; but to ensure full and proper disclosure to investors and fair play between market players.
- I have my doubts on this line of argument. A regulator’s job is also to protect the end consumer; in this case retail investor. By ordaining a mandatory grading of the IPOs, it is only cautioning the retail investor. It is not fighting any war on behalf of the retail investor there.
- “Success has many godfathers. Failure is an orphan!”
- Is a beautiful quote from President Kennedy, after the
Bay of Pigsfiasco.
- The 1961
Bayof Pigs Invasion(also known in Cubaas the Playa Girón after the beach in the Bay of Pigs where the landing took place) was an unsuccessful United States-planned and funded attempted invasion by armed Cuban exiles in southwest . An attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro, this action accelerated a rapid deterioration in Cuban-American relations, worsened by the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year. The name Cuba Bay of Pigscomes from a species of Triggerfish, rather than pigs.
- Why should banks have more capital?
- The banking system today has a capital adequacy ratio of 10 to 11% with the ratio of risk weighted assets to total assets being around 60%.
- The equity capital of banks accounts for just around 17% of net worth and has fallen from 30% in FY 2000.
- If compliance with Basel II norms is to be shown, with the current growth of 20% seen in assets (loans given by banks), it is imperative for banks to increase their net worth. And this can happen only if new equity is infused into them
- Have appetite for knowing more? Read this.
- Olympic games in
- It is estimated to cost a whopping $2.1 bn to conduct the games.
- Contributions from IOC (International Olympic Committee) and sponsorship money is expected to fund this kind of money.
- Smaller BPOs not paying correct ‘overtime’ to their employees
- Overtime wages offered by some small BPOs are far lower than the compensation given to unskilled labourers in even brick-kilns. Brick-kiln workers seem to be getting 17 per hour as overtime, while those working in small BPO firms in and around Noida are paid around Rs.12.50 per hour.
- Nandi Hills near
- It is in Chikkaballapur Taluk of Kolar district and is home to the abandoned but perfectly preserved fort of Tipu Sultan.
- Lord Cornwallis had stormed the sprawling 90 acre fort in 1791.
- This is also the source of the Penner, Ponnaiyar and Palar rivers.
- What is glioma?
- It is the most common type of brain tumour.
- Some studies say that increased use of cell phones will probably lead to this tumour. There are studies which contradict this view point also.
- Motion capture technology
- Motion capture, Motion Tracking or Mocap, is a technique of digitally recording movements for entertainment, sports and medical applications. The motion capture computer software records the positions, angles, velocities, accelerations and impulses, providing an accurate digital representation of the motion. In entertainment applications this can reduce the costs of animation which otherwise requires the animator to draw each frame, or with more sophisticated software, key frames which are interpolated by the software. Motion capture saves time and creates more natural movements than manual animation, but is limited to motions that are anatomically possible. Some applications might require additional impossible movements like animated super hero martial arts or stretching and squishing that are not possible with real actors.
- Experiential marketing
- It gives customers an opportunity to engage and interact with brands, products, and services in sensory ways that provide the icing on the cake of providing information.
- It uses brand relevant experiences to engage key audiences while creating a forum where these audiences interact with a brand. It involves high levels of interactivity and sensory impact and seeks to elicit an emotional response among the target through a more personal level of engagement than other media.
- Bharat Nirman
- Is a four year business plan of the UPA government with six major components – irrigation, roads, houses, drinking water, electricity and telephone connectivity.
- It has set a target of connecting 38,484 villages above 1,000 population and 20,867 habitations above 500 population in hilly and tribal areas with all-weather roads.
Indiamay allow tied loans from under ODA (Official Development Assistance) Japan Japanstarted the ODA to in 1958. Today it reached a level of Rs. 85,596 crores in 2005-06. These loans are made available through JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation). India
Japanis next only to UKand Germanyin giving assistance to . India
- Tied loans are those which need to be spent in the country providing the loan (the donor country). In most cases, a developed country provides a bilateral loan or grant to a developing country with a mandate that the money be spent on goods or services produced in the selected country.
- In its quest for securing funds for the Rs. 30,000 crore eastern and western DFC (Dedicated Freight Corridors),
Indiais willing to accept assistance from Japanwith a condition that 30% of the procurement required for projects will be made from . Japan
- Accounting Standard 15 – AS15
- It is a standard which is introduced by ICAI – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, w.e.f December 8, 2006.
- This standard governs the method of accounting for retirement benefits in the financial statements of employers.
- Now ICAI has allowed corporates to amortise these provisioning requirements up to a period of five years. This is an effort in the direction of benchmarking our system with international practices.
- What is GAIN?
for Improved Nutrition. Alliance
- It is an initiative to fight malnutrition in Indian children.
- What are multi-manager funds?
- Multi-manager funds are designed to make an investor's life easier by packaging together teams of specialist investment managers into a single fund. They give the investor exposure to a range of expertise and styles that would be difficult (if not impossible) to replicate by themselves, as well as the expert oversight of the Multi-manager firm itself. In that sense they are a true investment one-stop-shop.
The main Multi-manager fund categories are, Fund of funds and Manager of managers. There are quite obvious differences between the two categories, most notably that the first invests in funds, whereas the second invests in stocks and shares through appointed investment managers.
- World’s first coffee-specific rain-insurance shceme
- It will be operationalized by the Agriculture Insurance Company in
- Ever heard of a Houdini act?
- When we say somebody performed a Houdini act, we mean that he/she has performed an impossible task.
- The name Houdini comes from Harry Houdini. He was born Erich Weisz, and was a Hungarian-American magician, escapologist, stunt performer, as well as an investigator of spiritualists, and an amateur aviator.
- Shantha Sinha
- Is the chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
- Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity Award
- It was awarded to Vice Chancellor RP Singh of
. Lucknow University
- This award was instituted in memory of Manjunath Shanmugam, the IIM graduate who was murdered for clamping down on the petroleum adulteration racket in UP as an employee of the Indian Oil Corporation.
- Dr. Narendra Karmarkar
- Is one of
’s genius mathematicians and computing professionals. India
- He developed a solution for the “what is the cheapest and the quickest way to route a phone call” problem. Sounds simple?
- Prior to his solution, all the solutions were time consuming because they checked each route before they come with the answer.
- His solution took all the possible routes and represented them in an image that would look like a honeycomb. His solution burrows like a squirrel into the centre of this honeycomb and then just folds this honeycomb around this central part. Inside the new honeycomb the solution then blows a balloon and sees how much it can be inflated and which way it drifts before it gets crunched by the sides of the honeycomb. The place where the balloon drifts and touches the honeycomb is where the entire process is repeated: that of refolding the honeycomb and blowing a balloon. Repeated steps ‘let the balloon drift’ to the best solution and that gives the cheapest route for the telephone call.
- That’s Greeeeeeeeeeeeek for me!!! How’s it for you? Once in a while looking at such ‘foreign language’ stuff lets us know that life is far beyond what we experience.
- Private equity
- On a couple of occasions earlier also I covered a bit about this. I came across a more decent definition of this for the unitiated:
- A partnership of business brains raises a load of investment capital from pension funds, wealthy individuals and their own pockets. Then they go out and buy companies, of taking them private in the process. Then they sell the company for more than it was acquired in a relatively short amount of time.
- Private equity connotes the fact that the acquired companies are not publicly listed on the stock market, but privately owned through the money raised from investors. The absence of public shareholders also means that the industry is notoriously secretive about its aims, operations and profits.
- Shakira is here!!!
- All ye who live in Mumbai; do go see my favourite pop star ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ Shakira and convey my thanks to her for her excellent music and sensational dance steps.
- I became a fan when I first noticed her “Whenever wherever” song.
- Since then there was no looking back. I always eagerly look forward to her new numbers and even my kids do like most of her songs. Perhaps the more you watch somebody, the more you start liking them. I think it applies equally to all our friends and family.
- Core inflation surges to 7.2%
- What is core inflation? What is the ‘other’ inflation?
- Core inflation doesn’t factor in the volatility of prices of primary food articles and energy.
- Overall inflation includes these two components also. It remained at the 6.46% level.
- Competition Commission of India on warehouse regulator
- The CCI took some strong objections to the proposed bill on creation of a warehouse regulator. The bill aims to give warehousing receipts the status of negotiable instruments and enhance credit availability in the farm sector.
- The CCI’s main objection is that this process interferes with the market forces.
- New IT law may target exemptions
- At present, the effective tax rates for some of the big corporates is as low as 19.2% but for others it is much closer to the statutory rate of 33.66%.
- The total revenue foregone in 2006-07 on corporate tax and personal income tax is estimated at Rs. 65,587 crores. The total revenue foregone including excise and customs stood at Rs. 2,35,191 crores.
- If these exemptions are removed, the government would get the flexibility of lowering tax rates.
- Islamic finance or Islamic banking
- The keystones of this are that interest, or usury, is prohibited, as is speculation. And the return on financial instruments must be based on physical, tangible assets.
- Bob Woolmer’s death and calls for making betting in cricket legal
- Today editorial in ET calls for making betting in cricket legal.
- In most parts of the world, betting on sports events is legal. Hence there is no point in banning it in the first place.
- While I do agree that may be the case, would it have stopped the killing of Bob Woolmer? I doubt it. The sinister thing about betting is that, when stakes are too high, it would prompt people to go to any lengths to make the bet a certainty. This is what leads to many law and order problems. Betting perhaps in utopian places – where everybody is more or less equally endowed and hence equal – may be fun. But in places where there is no equality in many spheres of activity? I have my doubts.
- Winston Churchill
- The only British PM who won a Nobel for literature.
- Who is Dubya?
- Can you recall? It is the nickname of the
President, George Bush. US
- Subprime US mortgage market figures
- Lenders may foreclose on 1.5 mn to 2 mn homes in the next two years as defaults climb to about $225 bn.
- About $170 bn of the defaults would stem from subprime mortages, which now total $1.2 trillion.
- The above are statements attributed to Lehman Brothers, a leading investment banker.
- For an economy of the size of $13.3 trillion, if the subprime mortgages are about $1.2 trillion, it constitutes a significant portion of its GDP. Will it not have a systemic impact?
- My views on this issue can be equated more with the views of stock market operators. These are not emanating from a solid number-crunching work that is usually done by reputed economists when they come out with any statement. The likes of Alan Greenspan or our top honchos in economics and finance domain.
- Hwang Woo Suk
- Is the disgraced South Korean scientist who was banned by the government from research using human eggs after his claims to have created the first human stem cell through cloning were ruled as bogus by
in 2006. Seoul National University
- But now
has lifted the ban on stem cell research. South Korea
- Golf – bogeyed
- “Jeev Milkha Singh ran into trouble on the last hole of the day as he double bogeyed ….” So reads a sentence in today’s sports news.
- What is the meaning of double bogeyed?
- A double bogey means two strokes over par.
- To understand this let’s learn a bit about golf. Golf is played on a course with some holes, usually 18. Every hole will have a par. A 4 par hole means that a player is expected to strike the ball into the hole from the tee (a marked area designated for the first shot of a hole) in four strokes. Usually an 18 hole golf course will have four par three, ten par four and four par five holes. That is, it is expected that a player should be able to strike the ball into the 18 holes in 72 shots.
- A player may take more or fewer, shots than expected to strike the ball into the hole. The player who strikes the ball into the holes with fewer shots is the winner.
- If you look at the following table, perhaps it will make it clear:
Term on scoreboard
Albatross (or double-eagle)
Three strokes under par
eagle (or double-birdie)
Two strokes under par
One stroke under par
Stroke equal to par
One stroke more than par
Two strokes over par
Three strokes over par
Four strokes over par
- Following the scores will be confusing for the unitiated.
New Zealandopener Lou Vincent hit the fastest half century in a World Cup over its match with . In just 20 balls, he hammered 50 runs, and went on to score 101 in all. Canada
Indiaas usual lost the match to in its final league match. Now it is really only destiny that can see it find a place in the super eight. In the ensuing league match of this group, if Sri Lanka Bangladesh’s net run rate is lower than India’s, will find a place in the super eight. This is not my understanding. This is what I am told by an expert cricket watcher. This only reinforces what I have been saying. Prof. Godbole is right. If we are destined to play the World Cup semi-finals, we will play; whether or not we play well. India
- Cows and global warming
- Reports say that the burping of the cows is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions.
- So German scientists have invented a pill (called bolus) to cut bovine burping.
- Burping, also known as belching, ructus or eructation, is the release of gas from the digestive tract (mainly esophagus and stomach) through the mouth. It is often audible.
- FDI in telecom finally hiked to 74%
- The union cabinet has finally hiked the FDI limit. Press Note 5 of 2005, which originally mooted the idea and was followed up with two more cabinet notes in October 2006 and December 2006, finally received the cabinet nod.
- A series of additional security norms for allowing remote access were part of the approval.
- Foreigners also can hold key posts like the Chairman, CEO and MD in those companies. But the posts of Chief Technical Network Operations and Chief Security Officer will have to be manned by Indians.
to have the first Hindu acting Chief Justice Pakistan
- Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, who has been on tour in
for the last couple of weeks is named the acting CJ of Pakistan. This follows the sacking of the incumbent Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhary by Gen. Musharraf sometime earlier. India successfully test fires Hatf VII Babur missile Pakistan
- This missile is capable of a terrain-hugging flight, can avoid detection by radars and has a range of 700 km. On top of this, it can carry nuclear war heads also. It can cover many Indian cities without being detected.
- This is widely seen as
Pakistan’s answer to ’s Brahmos missiles. India
- Bob Woolmer death in
- It is suspected that it is a case of homicide.
- Many TV channels reported that Dawood Ibrahim is behind it.
- Match fixing is suspected to be behind this killing.
- Semiconductor Complex
- The almost defunct
based public sector undertaking SCL is about to be revived in the next couple of months. Chandigarh
- It was set up in 1983. Its aim was to design and manufacture VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) and VLSI based systems and sub-systems and R&D.
- It was capable of processing wafers of 0.8 micron. When revived, it is expected to acquire the processing capability of 0.35 micron wafers.
- The ubiquitous hard disk drives of computers may after all be replaced in years to come!!
- Intel, Fujitsu and Samsung are working on integrating flash memory with computer hard drives.
- Flash memory has no moving parts (unlike a regular HDD, which has lot of moving parts) and is thus capable of delivering data access at very high speeds.
- But the downside is that it tends to wear over time and is quite expensive.
’s outbound FDI in the current fiscal India
- Is more than $20 bn
- Doubts over IPI gas pipeline
- The fate of the proposed Iran Pakistan India gas pipeline is still unknown.
Pakistanis demanding high transit charges of 10% of the gas price at Indiaborder, while is willing to pay a maximum of 5% of the gas price at Iran-Pakistan border. India has also scaled down the quantum of gas to just 60 mmscmd from the originally envisaged 150 mmscmd. Out of this 60 mmscmd, Iran Pakistanand will get 30 mmscmd each. India
- With the project (if completed) expected to begin supplies only 2011, estimates have it that India would by then have added almost 100 mn cubic meters of additional gas to its kitty, thus raising a big question mark on pursuing this project.
- Integrity Pact
- Is a tool developed by Transparency International to help governments, businesses and civil society to fight corruption in public contracting.
- It binds both parties to a contract to ethical conduct. An independent body evaluates the entire process and both companies and the bidder could be blacklisted for any slip.
- World’s largest Vanilla producer
- Do you know that vanilla prices have ruled higher than the price of gold, just a couple of years back?
- It was then that Indian farmers, especially in the southern part, have taken to vanilla farming. But now the prices have crashed to about Rs. 60 per kg.
- Budget and FBT on ESOPS
- The latest budget has proposed levy of Fringe Benefit Tax on ESOPS (Employee Stock Options).
- An ESOP is a call option (the opposite of ‘put’ option) i.e., the employee has the option to buy the share being offered by the company at a future date for a price which is fixed now.
- Companies usually set aside a portion of their authorized share capital for ESOPS. The employee will pay the exercise price and acquire the shares. This is effectively a preferential issue by the company to the employee.
- The difference between the fair price (market price) and the exercise price is the additional benefit that the company bestows on the employee. This gain is nothing but a short-term capital gain and has to treated as such. But taxing it at a higher rate as normal income is against the global practices.
- What went wrong in Nandigram?
- Today’s article by Narender Pani “Unravelling rural
Bengal” is damn good. I find it almost impossible to give you a précis of it. Read it in full here. Some excerpts/notings I can’t resist from giving you are:
- What is being challenged in
West Bengaltoday is not just the SEZ policy or even land acquisition, but the land politics that the Left has followed for the last 30 years.
- In its quest for political power, it (Left) avoided dependence on communal allies by opting for less radical reforms. Operation Barga protected the rights of the tenants, as much as it did the ownership of the landlords, implicitly.
- Changes were inevitable in 3 decades with new tenants coming in. Where the change could not be dealt with formally, informal mechanisms – party cadres – have stepped in.
- Such a system of sharing left little scope to generate capital on a scale that could be used to create industry. For years, the Left’s response was ignoring industrialization. But once it proved to be unsustainable, it had to attract capital. The only advantage the state had was to offer the land of the unwilling farmers.
- For a population that has not seen rapid industrialization, and has been spoon-fed on the ideology of globalization not benefiting the poor, the forcible takeover of land is a serious threat to their livelihood. And this is the triggering point.
- Rajivlochan’s article “Throwing the farmer to the wolves” is also very good today. If you want to learn critiquing a government measure or policy in a meaningful way, this is a must read. Especially read the third and fourth paragraphs of his article, if you can’t read it in full. He castigates the Planning Commission’s suggestion of dependence on contract farming to battle the failure of organized credit system.
- Though I am a votary of the Planning Commission’s approach, I can’t help but see some alternate point of view coming from a different perspective. He cites the example of Aalsmeer Flower Auction of Holland, a cooperative of flower cultivators in securing better prices for their produce.
- Read the article in full to appreciate the nuances well. You can find the article here.
- Do you know that ocean absorbs about 85% of atmospheric heat?
- The first Hyderabad International Film Festival opened
- It’s a week long even from 22nd March to 29th March.
- Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding 2005
- Was conferred on Wangari Muta Maathai of Kenya.
- She is a leading environmentalist.
- UPDATE: Piyush Yadav corrected me about her nationality. She is from Kenya, NOT Nigeria as was originally noted.
- Indian wins the Abel Prize
- Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, a professor of
was awarded this prize for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular for creating a unified theory of large deviations. New York University
- King Harald V of
Norwaywill present the award on May 22, in . Oslo
- The prize money is $850,000.
to host 2010 World Cup for Hockey India
- FIH, the international body governing the sport of Hockey has decided to award the chance of hosting 2010 World Cup to
. India hosted the World Cup earlier in 1982 in Mumbai. India
Netherlandsand have organized the even twice earlier. Kuala Lumpur
- Parduman Singh dead
- Former Asian Games shot put and discuss champion. He won the gold at 1954 Manila Asian Games for both these events.
- In 1958 he won gold for shot put and silver for discus throw. He won the discus silver in 1962.
Award to Bob Woolmer Pakistan
- Pak President Musharraf has announced that the award of “Sitara-e-Imtiaz” (Star of Excellence) would be conferred posthumously on the cricket coach.