goes to the polls Mali
- The capital of this country is
- President Amadou Toumani Toure, who is contesting as an independent is expected to win the elections.
- Irish Parliament dissolved
- Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has asked President Mary McAleese to dissolve Parliament.
- This country’s Parliament is called Dail.
- What are widgets?
- These enable accessing online applications.
- An excellent article written by J. Murali in today’s Hindu.
- Gaurav Ghei became the first Indian to win the Pine Valley Beijing Open.
- Gisela Dulko won her first WTA Tour title beating Sorana Cirstea in the final of the Gaz de France
Grand Prix. Budapest
- Cricket – Glenn McGrath
- Is named officially the “Player of the Tournament” at the Cricket World Cup 2007.
- He claimed 26 wickets to emerge as the most successful bowler in a single ICC Cricket World Cup.
- He has 71 World Cup wickets to his credit and earned the distinction of being the most successful bowler in the history of the tournament.
- Insider trading
- It involves purchase or sale of shares by somebone who possesses ‘inside’ information about a company’s performance and prospects which are not available to the market as a whole. Normally, it refers to “market sensitive” information that can impact the valuation of the scrip.
- The government is examining a proposal to make insider trading an offence under the PMLA – Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
- Inscriptions found on meteor dust
- In 1908 a giant meteorite fell in a remote part of Tunguska region in Siberia in
- The glow of this crash was visible several thousand kilometers away in
, but years later when researchers searched the dense Taiga forest areas they could not find the core of the meteor. St. Petersburg
- Now scientists have discovered several artefacts with extra-terrestrial inscriptions near the site of the crash. They believe that the quartz tablets now discovered are part of an information container delievered to Earth by the extra-terrestrial spaceship that crashed in 1908.
- IMF voting quotas
- The present quota share alignment among the members countries is highly skewed in favour of developed countries who enjoy almost 63% of the total quota share while emerging economies have a meager 37%.
- The quotas are determined on the basis of GDP taken on nominal exchange rate terms, among other factors.
wants the GDP figures to be taken on PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) weight basis. India
- PPP means converting rupees to dollars on the basis of what the two currencies can actually buy in their respective economies.
- Padma Sachdev receives Shashwati Award
- Renowned Dogri poetess Smt. Padma Sachdev, receives Shashwati Award today in
. The award which carries cash of rupees Twenty Thousand, a citation and a momento is given by an organisation in the name of renowned first Bangalore poetess. Smt. Padma Sachdev has been honoured for her outstanding contribution to Dogri literature. Canada
- I was asked to explain the difference between repo and reverse repo rates in the shoutbox.
- Ans: I have covered these terms on quite a few occasions earlier in both the blogs. A search for the terms 'repo' and 'reverse repo' would reveal you all the posts containing these words and you can perhaps get a quick grasp of the terms easily.
However, to recap for the benefit of all:
A repo is the short form for 'repurchase obligation'. In this the seller agrees to repurchase the security being sold at a later date for a price that is agreed upon now. The seller delivers the securities to the buyer with a promise to buy these securities for an agreed price at a later date. RBI sells gilts i.e., government securities to banks and financial institutions. This is how RBI mops up money from the market. The 'buyer' will pay money in return for the securities. The buyer will enter the transaction because; it is going to get a good rate of return for the money it is holding. Mere holding cash will not yield any return; isn't it?
A 'reverse repo' transaction, as the name suggests is the opposite of a 'repo' transaction. The RBI purchases securities from the market (again the banks and financial institutions) by offering a good price for them with an obligation to sell these securities at a later date for an agreed price. This way, it pumps in money into the market. It mops up securities and pumps money into the system. This is useful to the banks and financial institutions because, they may need money to meet their immediate requirements. If they have assets (government securities) with them, that won't help them to meet their immediate requirement of funds. So they sell these securities to RBI and get funds in return.
- Pharmaceutical research institute in
- NIPER – National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research will be set up in
- Three more such institutes will be set up in Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Hajipur (
- There is already one existing at Mohali (
- Bonus limit to be raised
- The Indian Labour Conference has agreed to amend the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 to increase the bonus limit for workers.
- The employers wanted the bonus limit to be raised to Rs. 7,500. The employees wanted it to be raised to Rs. 10,000. The ministry of labour will have to take a call on the quantum now, before a bill to amend the act is introduced in the Parliament.
- Optical cloak: you can be invisible!!!
- Researchers at the Purdue University, Indiana (US) have created a design that could render people or objects invisible by placing an optical ‘cloak’ around them.
- The tool looks like a spiky, round hairbrush, and consists of an array of ‘nano’ or extremely tiny needles. It bends light rays, deflecting them away from the cloaked object, so that it is not illuminated – and hence is invisible to the human eye.
- Commonwelath Secretary General
- Don McKinnon is the current Secretary General.
- An NRI, Dr. Mohan Kaul is throwing his hat into the ring to succeed Don McKinnon.
- Cricket World Cup
Australialifted the Cup by beating in the finals. Sri Lanka
- Greenshoe option
- ICICI Bank is raising about Rs. 20,000 crores from the market through a combination of ADS (American Depository Share) issue and a local issue.
- Papers reported that the bank may look at green-shoe options going forward, if required. What is meant by this ‘green-shoe option’?
- It means, if the issue is oversubscribed, it may decide to keep a portion of the excess mop up from the issue.
- Cherrapunji loses its title
- I am sure many of you would know Cherrapunji (also spelled Chirrapunji sometimes) as the wettest place on Earth. It is the place where there is heaviest rainfall every year. It is in Meghalaya.
- This title is now taken over by Mawsynram, another place in the same State.
- One nickname that Meghalaya has is ‘abode of clouds.’
- MM Punchi Commission on Centre-State ties
- The government appointed the Commission yesterday. The other members of the Commission are: Dhirendra Singh, V.K. Duggal and N.R. Madhava Menon.
- The Commission’s terms of reference include:
- To examine what could be the role, responsibility and jurisdiction of the Centre during major and prolonged outbreaks of communal violence, caste violence or any other social conflict.
- To review other aspects of Centre-States relations including taxes and linking of rivers.
- To examine whether there is a need to set up a Central law enforcement agency to take up suo motu investigation of crimes having inter-State or international ramifications with serious implications on national security.
- To study the feasibility of supporting legislation under Article 355 for the purpose of suo motu deployment of Central forces in the States if and when the situation demanded.
- To study the role, responsibility and jurisdiction of the Centre vis-à-vis States in promoting effective devolution of powers and autonomy to Panchayati Raj institutions and local bodies.
- To promote the concept and concept of independent planning and budgeting at the district level and linking Central assistance of various kinds with the performance of the States.
- To study the need and relevance of separate taxes for freeing inter-state trade to establish unified domestic market.
- To examine the role of Governors, emergency provisions, financial relations, economic and social planning, Panchayati Raj institutions and sharing of resources, including inter-State river waters.
- Rostropovich dies
- Legendary Russian cellist and emblem of resistance to the Soviet system Mstislav Rostropovich died yesterday at the age of 80.
- He was persecuted and expelled in 1974 by the Soviet authorities.
- Final guidelines on Basel II issued by the RBI
- The RBI issued these guidelines on capital adequacy and market discipline for implementation of Basel II capital adequacy framework.
- The revised framework comes into operation from March 31, 2008.
- Cricket World Cup
- Steve Bucknor of
is appearing for his 5th successive World Cup final. His first appearance was in 1992. Australia
- Previous World Cup finals:
London; West Indies bt by 17 runs Australia
London; West Indies bt by 92 runs England
London; Indian bt West Indiesby 43 runs
- 1987: Kolkata;
Australiabt by 7 runs England
- 1992: Melbourne;
Pakistanbt by 22 runs England
Lahore; Sri Lankabt by 7 wickets Australia
London; Australiabt by 8 wickets Pakistan
Johannesburg: Australiabt by 125 runs India
- Stephen Hawking flies weighless aboard a jet
- Prof. Hawking teaches Mathematics at the
. He has done groundbreaking work on black holes and the origins of the universe. Universityof Cambridge
- He suffers from a paralyzing Lou Gehrig’s disease also known as ALS.
- Flash laptops
- We all know that hard disk drives in laptops (as in PCs) are made of moving parts and generate lot of heat and consume lot of power.
- The industry has come up with flash hard drives as an alternative to these conventional hard drives.
- Fujitsu has come up with these for the first time in the market.
- Flash drives promise laptops that are lighter, faster, and won’t generate heat. They can process data much faster and consume a lot less power.
- One issue that works against them apart from their cost is the limitation of storage space at 128 GB. But technology should be overcoming this problem in a few years.
- Do you know how many seats are there in all the central institutions of higher education where OBC reservation is sought to be introduced from 2007-08 academic session?
- It is reported that last year about 1,24,377 students were admitted to these institutions.
- I presume that there are as many seats.
- Babli Project dispute
- Maharashtra is constructing a barrage across
Godavariat this place. Andhra Pradesh contends that the construction of this barrage would result in reverse flow water and that AP would be denied it due share of water from the Godavari Tribunal’s award dated July 26, 1980.
- The Supreme Court which heard the matter directed that the project can be gone ahead with by
Maharashtrabut without the proposed construction of 13 gates at the barrage.
- Yudhvir Award
- Given by Yudhvir Foundation, which was formed in 1991 to perpetuate the memory of late Yudhvir, freedom fighter, journalist and founder of ‘Hindi Milap’ daily.
- The foundation honours those who excel in different fields.
- Latest and 16th award was conferred on Jahdish Mittal and his wife Kamla, for their contribution to art.
- Tejas –
’s Light Combat Aircraft India
- This is an indigenously designed and developed aircraft. It made its successful maiden flight at the HAL airport near
- The successful test flight marks the beginning of series production.
- Gujarat IPS officers arrested for fake encounters
- Most of you would have read about this arrest. They have killed three people suspected of being Laskar-e-Taiba militants in a fake encounter. Some comments made in ‘The Hindu’ which are worthy of note in this context:
- While the law must now take its course, it is essential that we reflect on the wider political and law enforcement culture in Gujarat and the rest of
that allows such brazen crimes being committed in the name of combating terrorism. Communal and divisive regimes thrive on the climate of insecurity, fear, and suspicion that sensational assassination and terrorism plots produce. India Goafilm festival – for short and animated films
- It is a 5 day event scheduled to be held from 28th April to 2nd May.
exports first consignment of mangoes to US India
- Promised by President Bush during his visit to
India, that the export of Indian mangoes to US would be facilitated, this promise has been kept up by the . US
- Alphonso and Kessar varieties of mangoes from Maharashtra and
Gujaratrespectively have been exported.
- The market potential is expected to be about 2.50 lakh tonnes.
joins the trillion dollar club India ’s GDP at current prices is pegged at Rs. 41,00,000 crores on the back of a strengthening rupee. Thus it joined a select group of countries as a trillion dollar economy. There are 13 such countries including India . India
- Asian weightlifting championships
- Geeta Rani won two bronze medals in ‘snatch’ and ‘clean and jerk’ categories.
- Pak set to grant MFN status to
India Pakistan, which has been steadfastly refusing to grant MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status to in its trade, seems to be finally relenting. India
- MFN status implies that all imports from
would be allowed except a handful that is included in a negative list. India
- At present all imports from
are banned, except those that are allowed in a positive list – Non-MFN status. India
- Book: “Guns, Germs and Steel” is written by Jared Diamond
- This famous book authored by the environmental biologist argues that it is not biology or race that explains the course of world history. Rather it is, ‘geography’ which has been the sole determinant of the rise and fall of civilizations.
- In a departure from my habit of answering queries through the shoutbox or individual mails, I decided to answer a couple of queries directly through the blogs this time.
- Yesterday I was asked by Rishi: What’s the best way to prepare in the last 25 days before the prelims exam? Take a look at what I wrote in the “Discover It” blog today.
- I was also asked by Sridhar: Sir, Could u plz explain this line "Monetary measures will moderate inflation. Monetary measures come with the price of high interest rate". What exactly is this Monetary measure (used in FOREX).
- Monetary measure include tightening i.e., increasing any of the rates like CRR, SLR, Bank Rate, repo rate, reverse repo rate etc.
- What this does is that money becomes costly and interest rates go up. When interest rates go up, people will have less liquidity with them thereby inflation gets moderated.
- That’s why you see that everybody expected RBI to increase some of these key rates. But RBI governor, as is his wont, has surprised the market by not touching them now during the recent policy announcement.
- Monetary measure in respect of forex can only be with reference to allowing the rupee rate either to go up or keeping a lid on the rupee rate. Here we usually are talking in terms of the US dollar. If you allow the rupee to appreciate, the exports will become less competitive and imports will become cheaper. This is expected to have a softening effect on domestic prices. Attacks inflation, to a certain extant.
- World IP day
- Is celebrated on 26th April.
- Most people are aware of intellectual property (IP) - of copyright, patents, industrial designs and trademarks. But many still view these as business or legal concepts with little relevance to their own lives. To address this gap, WIPO’s Member States decided in 2000 to designate an annual World Intellectual Property Day. They chose April 26, the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO originally entered into force in 1970.
- The aims of World IP Day are:
- to raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life;
- to increase understanding of how protecting IP rights helps promote creativity and innovation;
- to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe;
- to encourage respect for the IP rights of others.
- Mrs. Annie Raja
- The General Secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) has been elected as one of the five vice-presidents of the Women International Democratic Federation (WIDF).
- Earth-like planet found by scientists
- A planet, which is believed to be Earth-like, orbiting a star called Gliese 581 in Libra constellation, is found by radial velocity method by European Astronomers working at European Southern Observatory telescope at La Silla,
- This star is among the 100 closest stars to Earth, at just 20.5 light years. A light year is about 10 trillion kilometers or 6 trillion miles.
- Radial velocity is the velocity of an object in the direction of the line of sight. The light of an object with a substantial radial velocity will be subject to Doppler effect, so the wavelength of the light increases for receding objects (redshift) and decreases for approaching objects (blueshift).
- The radial velocity of a star or other luminous but distant object can be measured accurately by taking a high-resolution spectrum and comparing the measured wavelengths of known spectral lines to wavelengths from laboratory measurements. By convention, a positive radial velocity indicates the object is receding; if the sign is negative, then the object is approaching.
- Asian Weightlifting Championships April 17 - 28.
- Currently on at
. Taian City, China
- Chinese women are dominating the event.
- Indian lifters Renu Bala (58 kg) and Soma Rani (63 kg) have so far won two bronze medals each.
Australiabeat to reach the World Cup finals. South Africa
- Broadband may be available for free in 2 years
- Government is planning to tap the USO fund to deliver 2 mbps through state-owned MTNL and BSNL.
- The idea is to boost economic activity in general
- Project can be financed spending only a portion of the burgeoning corpus of the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
- The move has the potential to kill the telecom business.
- Barclays’ bid for ABN Amro countered
- By the group of three headed by Royal Bank of
. The other two members of the consortium include Scotland ’s Santander and Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis. Spain
- They have put in a bid for $98 bn.
- Remember, yesterday we were noting about the record-breaking acquisition bid by Barclays?
- What is email spoofing?
- Email spoofing is reported to be haunting big deals by private equity players.
- In email spoofing, the sender’s address in the email header is altered so as to appear as if the mail originated from a different source.
- There are four methods to spoof emails:
- One can visit sites like mail.com and choose domain name of choice.
- The ‘from’ ‘return-path’ and ‘reply-to’ fields can be changed.
- Hijack mails during transmission, make changes and then route them to a particular destination.
- Hackers can send a mail such as firstname.lastname@example.org asking to reply back with certain information.
- Finally auction route is chosen for 3G spectrum
- Remember we have been covering about the choice of allocation of 3G spectrum to telecom companies for quite some time?
- Government has finally chosen the auction route. It is expected to rake in nearly Rs. 8000 crore through these auctions.
- World’s first ‘green’ skyscraper
is planning to build this. This will consume much less electricity than what it produces. Dubai
- How is existence of a cartel investigated?
- The MRTPC (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission) is planning to investigate whether or not there is a cartel in pricing cement.
- According to the MRTPC Act, the regulator has to establish that there was a ‘meeting of minds’ to fix prices and that there was price parallelism.
- While it is very difficult to prove the first one (meeting of minds) because of the availability of sophisticated communication channels, companies are doing their best not be caught on the second point. They never increase the prices in tandem. The prices will be increased in such a way that the picture that emerges can be easily portrayed as the play of market forces.
- Regulatory body for tobacco control
- The Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss said that a National Regulatory Authority (NRA) would be set up to ensure the effective implementation of tobacco control laws.
more than 40% of cancer cases are caused due to tobacco use. India
- 7 Obstacles to the Indo-US nuclear deal
- There are two good articles in The Hindu of today on Indo-US nuclear deal. I recommend reading them both. Here is the link for the 1st article and then the 2nd article.
- There are apparently 7 obstacles as listed out in them:
- Right of return clause: This clause says that the
USwill have the right to call back anything sold to under the 123 Agreement in certain eventualities. India
- Life time fuel guarantees for Indian civilian reactors in return for perpetuity safeguards
insistence on ‘fallback’ bilateral safeguards in addition to IAEA safeguards US USrefusal to allow to import components and technology for safeguarded reprocessing and enrichment activity India refusal to allow reprocessing of spent fuel US
- The sequencing of the 123 negotiations and
’s IAEA safeguards agreement India
- Timing and nature of the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s decision to amend its guidelines to allow commerce with
- Cervantes Prize for Antonio Gamoneda
- Spanish poet Antonio Gamoneda has received this prize worth $120,000.
- His popular works include
- Sublevacion Inmovil – a collection of poems
- Edad – a book that won Spanish national Poetry Prize
- Libro de los venenos
- Cricket world cup
Sri Lankaenters the semifinals beating in the semi-finals. New Zealand
- RBI’s annual policy statement
- Those of you who have a penchant for detail should read the actual policy statement once, if not thoroughly; at least a cursory glance is recommended. Take a look at it here.
- Those of us who are pressed for time, will take a look at the key points:
- There is no change in any of the key rates – repo, reverse repo, bank rate and CRR remain unchanged at 7.75%, 6%, 6% and 6.5% respectively.
- GDP growth forecast lowered to 8.5% from 8.5 to 9% and inflation target brought down to 4 to 4.5%.
- Companies will be allowed to prepay ECBs (External Commercial Borrowings) up to $400 mn.
- Overseas investment limit to be raised to 300% of net worth.
- Overseas portfolio investment cap for listed companies to be increased to 35% of net worth.
- Risk weight on housing loans up to Rs. 20 lakh cut to 50% from 75%.
- Aggregate ceiling on overseas investment by Mutual Funds to be hiked to $4 bn from $3 bn.
- Fund to shield small investors
- Budget 2006-07 proposed the setting up an IPF (Investor Protection Fund) based on the recommendation made by MH Kania Committee. The fund is expected to help the small investors duped by fraudulent practices. The emphasis was on investor education programmes to educate small and retail investors.
- Government is about to set up the fund.
- MMT stands for Mobile Money Transfers
- Do you remember that we noted something about this on 13th February? Take a look at it. This is a novel way of sending money; but this makes mobile telecom companies transgress into the business of banking. So RBI’s permission would be needed.
- MMT service was launched for the first time in the world at
Barcelona( ) in February 2007 by the global GSM Association. It works like this: Spain
- The sender "tops up" his mobile phone with money, similar to "topping up" one's prepaid account. He then forwards the amount using the SMS facility and the receiver gets a PIN-like number on his mobile. The receiver can redeem this for cash at the prepaid distribution points of mobile service providers.
- The RBI is learnt to have given its regulatory nod to Bharti and SBI to launch this service in
on a non-for-profit basis. India
- Sun’s 3D images for the first time
- STEREO – Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory. It consists of two space-based observatories - one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind. With this new pair of viewpoints, scientist will be able to see the structure and evolution of solar storms as they blast from the Sun and move out through space.
- It has released the first 3D images of the Sun. These images help studying a type of solar eruption called a coronal mass ejection (solar flares). These eruptions cause overloading of power lines and disrupt satellite communications. They also endanger astronauts on spacewalks.
- These solar flares typically blow a billion tonnes of the sun’s atmosphere into space at a speed of 1 mn miles per hour. These flares are also responsible for northern lights, or aurora borealis, the luminous display of lights seen in the upper latitudes of the northern hemisphere.
- Get a feel of size
- Barclays’ – a British bank and ABN Amro have announced that they are going to merge. This will be history’s biggest ever financial services deal. The deal is estimated at $91 bn (or 46 bn Pounds or 67 bn Euros).
- The combined entity will have $3.2 trillion in assets, be world’s fifth largest bank with a market valuation of 85 bn Pounds, 46 million personal banking customers, 1.4 mn commercial clients and 217,000 employees.
- Central board for madarsas mooted
- NCMEI – National Commission of Minority Educational Institutions headed by Justice MSA Siddiqui has recommended to the union HRD ministry the setting up of a central madarsa board through an act of parliament to standardize madarsa education system.
- There are strong opinions expressed both in favour and against this proposal.
- Do-Not-Call Registry
- TRAI has finalized the new guidelines on this.
- There will be a penalty of Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 for every unsolicited call.
- Telemarketers’ lines will be disconnected if they violate the regulations thrice.
- Subscribers will not be charged to enroll with the NDNC – National do-not-call registry.
- Human sperm from bone marrow
- Scientists in
have succeeded in making human sperm from bone marrow. Germany
- A team led by Mr. Karim Nayernia from the
took bone marrow from male volunteers. From this, they isolated the mesenchymal cells. Mesenchymal cells have previously been shown to grow into body tissue such as muscle. universityof Goettingen
- Stem cells are immature cells that can be made to follow different functional pathways. Using a form of vitamin A, the scientists have coaxed the mesenchymal cells to become primordial germ cells – the first stage in sperm genesis. Specific genetic markers showed that some of these have developed into more advanced spermatogonial sperm cells. Under normal circumstances these cells turn into mature, functional sperm that can fertilize an egg.
’s efforts to tap the CDM market India
- The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) enables candidates in developing countries like
Indiaand , that have no mandatory obligations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, to implement CDM projects that reduce emissions. By reducing emissions, one can encash the results by claiming carbon credits. China
- With each tonne of carbion dioxide (or its equivalent) reduced, one carbon credit is claimed. Such credits can be traded with companies or organizations in the developed countries at rates varying between $6 to $16 per carbon credit.
is the second largest claimant of the carbon credits in this fashion. This is entirely from the private sector. So far about 513 projects with a potential to generate about 355 mn CERs (Certified Emission Reductions) have been approved by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. India
- Telecom (cellular) tower sharing
- The sudden interest in the passive infrastructure industry is a function of the needs of service providers to penetrate deeper into the Indian market to sustain the current growth levels as well as cater to the policy initiatives of the regulatory – for instance the extension of the USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) to private telecom operators and independent passive infrastructure providers.
- Estimates suggest that the telecom subscriber base will touch 500 mn mark by 2010 and the number of towers will grow from the current 90,000 to about 310,000 by that time.
- The average cost of a tower is about Rs. 22 lakhs. If tower sharing is followed by all the service providers, this may result in a cost saving of about Rs. 25,000 crores.
- OBC Quota – SC won’t vacate the stay
- The Supreme Court took a strong stand and said that it will not vacate the stay already granted for implementing the OBC reservations in the elite educational institutions.
- Article 15(5) was inserted by an amendment to the Constitution of India mandating quota for educationally and economically backward classes.
- Following this, the Central Educational Institutions (Reservations in Admissions) Act, 2006 was passed.
- PSLV makes successful commercial launch
- PSLV-C8 carried the Italian satellite Agile, weighing 352 kg and placed it in the exact orbit about 550 km above the earth.
- This has given
an entry into the commercial launch space. India
- The Agile satellite will study the flux of gamma rays on to the earth from deep space. These experiments are important because they can verify the work of Dr. B.G. Siddarth that has said that there will be departures from Einstein’s theory of relativity at high speeds.
- Do you know what can spoil the commercial ambitions of ISRO?
- US export control laws. They prescribe onerous licensing requirements when a
USsatellite or indeed any satellite with components made in the is to be launched from a non-NATO country. US
- This makes marketing of the launch capabilities of ISRO very difficult.
- Power plans for
- About 70,000 MW capacity addition is being planned for the next 5 years.
- Capacity for inter-regional transfer will go up from 11,500 to 37,000 MW.
- Panchayat Divas observed on 24th April
- 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 has brought in lot of changes to the panchayats raj system. Some of the highlights of that are:
- Constitutional status to the Gram Sabha – the assembly of all registered voters of a village, panchayats or group of panchayats.
- Three levels of panchayats – village, intermediate and district.
- Mandatory elections once in 5 years.
- Reservation for women and SC/STs
- Obligatory establishment of State Election Commissions and State Finance Commissions
- Constitution of District Planning Committees
- Boris Yeltsin dead
- He presided over the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the chaotic transition of
to a market economy. Russia
- He died of heart attack.
- Earth Day celebrated yesterday.
- Earth Day is a name used for two different observances, both held annually during spring in the northern hemisphere. These are intended to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the vernal (March) equinox; while a global observance in many countries is held each year on April 22.
- Want to know more about it? Follow this link…
- Ripening agent in fruits
- With the mango season commencing, it is time we recount something about ripening agents used.
- “Ethylene” is a natural ripening agent found in fruits. Calcium carbide contains chemical acetylene, which mimics ethylene. So fruit vendors keep calcium carbide in a crate of fruits and leave it a couple of days. Fruits are thus artificially ripened.
- But calcium carbide contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus which are not good for humans. They damage health in the long run.
’s Import-Export Scene India
- A small correction to what I noted on 20th April in our blog.
’s merchandise exports are at $125 bn. Its services exports are at $76 bn. Taken together, these two account for a little over $200 bn. Whereas our aggregate imports are pegged at $190 bn. Thus we are a trading surplus nation. India
- If you are asked to list out a couple of problems that
’s exporters face, perhaps this is what you could say: India
- High transaction costs
- “Export” of domestic levies
- Infrastructure inadequacies
- Though DEPB scheme is quite popular among our exporters, it is not WTO compliant. Moves to replace with a WTO compliant scheme have not met with success so far.
- Government has done well to stimulate agricultural exports through specific programmes and enlarging the scope of Focus Product and Focus Market Schemes.
- It is a reality that the multilateral trade arrangements embodied in the WTO rules have diluted the importance of fiscal incentives that used to be an important driving force of the trade policy.
Monte CarloOpen won by Rafael Nadal. This is third straight win of this title. He beat Roger Federer in the finals yesterday.
- He is the second player to have won three straight wins for this title in its history. Romanian Ilie Nastase was the first to achieve this feat during 1971 to 1973.
- In view of his retirement from the game, let’s take a look at Brian Lara’s career highlights
- Highest individual score in Tests – 400 not out against
- Highest individual first class score – 500 not out for Warwickshire against
- Fourth highest maiden hundred in Test cricket – 277 against
- Most number of runs in an over in Tests – 28 runs off Robin Peterson (
) South Africa
- Second in the list of most number of double hundreds in Tests – 9 (Only Bradman with 12, is ahead of him.)
- Highest century maker in Tests for the
West Indies– 34 hundreds
- Highest run-scorer in Test cricket – 11,953 runs
- Wisden 2000 second greatest batting performance in Test history – 153 not out vs
in 1998-99. Australia
- Fastest to reach 10,000 and 11,000 runs in Tests.
- CMDs of banks
- On 5th April, we noted something on this subject. Something more on this in today’s paper.
- The Banking (Nationalization and Acquisition) Act, 1970 and 1980 determines the board composition of the Nationalized Banks. According to this, all the PSU banks must be headed by a CMD. For a variety of reasons both the RBI and the Government of India have refused to split the posts.
- The only exception being SBI, which is governed by a separate Act of its own.
- On the other hand, private banks have to compulsorily appoint a non-executive chairman and an executive CEO or MD, as these banks are governed by the Banking Regulation Act, which is different from the above two enactments referred to above.
- The two RBI appointed panels that have looked into the corporate governance in banks and financial institutions – RH Patil committee and the AS Ganguly committee -- have recommended that the posts remain separate.
- Should an acquisition of business be preferred over a joint venture?
- In a very good article Akil Hirani lists out four instances when a joint venture would be preferred to an acquisition:
- When the assets are difficult to separate
- When a full acquisition will increase management costs
- When valuation is difficult
- When legal or regulatory constraints make an acquisition difficult
Caribbeannations plan a common visa
- Introduced to facilitate the tourists visiting for the ongoing World Cup, a common visa for all the
Caribbeannations may become a reality.
- Already the EU has a similar visa called Schengen. The 1985 Schengen Agreement is an agreement among European states which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls between the participating countries. It also includes provisions on common policy on the temporary entry of persons (including the Schengen Visa), the harmonisation of external border controls and cross-border police co-operation. If interested, read more about it here.
- Very competitive healthcare costs in
- Industry pundits put the healthcare costs at one-fifth to one-tenth of the costs in the West.
- Something about our monastery culture
- This being a Sunday, we get to see some leisure stories, through which we get a chance to learn a bit about our culture. Today’s piece is about Leh, in J&K.
- June and July is the time when the Hemis festival is celebrated there. It is the biggest and most famous of the monastic festivals. It is dedicated to Sage Padmasambhava. The main attraction during this festival is the dance performed by Cham dancers.
- Ladakhis follow the Tibetan tantric Buddhism.
- Ladakh sees wild fluctuations in daily temperatures. Normally we expect that this Himalayan region will be very cool throughout; know? But it appears that the heat during day time can be scorching and in ten minutes flat we be left sun-burnt!!! That’s why the people there keep carrying an umbrella.
- “Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” -- Kafka.
- Ever heard of Kafka? Or Kafkaesque? Kafkaesque is an adjective which is used to describe concepts, situations and ideas which are reminiscent of the literary work of Franz Kafka, in particular his novel “The Trial” and his short story “The Metamorphosis”.
- VI Pay Commission
- It is scheduled to submit its report by April 5, 2008.
- The recommendations of this pay commission report are likely to entail an expenditure of about Rs. 25,000 crores per annum to the Centre. The States will have an equally huge burden. But my gut feeling is that nobody will have the courage to not implement them in view of the impending elections.
- IIMA is examining the issue of variable pay for government employees and is likely to submit its report this Pay Commission.
- Attorney General of
- Milon Kumar Banerji has been reappointed to this position. He is already serving a three year term which is set to expire by June 5, 2007.
- He has been appointed four time as the Attorney General during the term of Primer Minsiters Narasimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh.
- About Hedge Funds
- Some of you were asking me about Hedge Funds along with a couple of other concepts. While I have queued that request, I found a very interesting piece on hedge funds in today’s paper. Don’t miss it out. It is very good. Read it here.
- It gives you an excellent account of how Amaranth, one of the leading hedge funds, has bottomed out recently.
- Surely you would have heard of paragliding; don’t you?
India’s most sought after paragliding spots include – Billing in Himachal Pradesh, Kamshet and Pune and Maharashtraand Rishikesh and Mussorie in Uttarkhand.
- If you haven’t heard of this sport; look at the web or wikipedia.
- Why are coloured fruits or vegetables good for health?
- They are rich in anti-oxidants, which are chemicals that can cancel out the cell-damaging effects of compounds called free radicals.
- Berries, for instance, contain compounds known as polyphenols and anthocyanins. People who eat more of these fruits and vegetables have a documented lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases.
- Recent research has shown that adding a bit of ethanol (an alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila etc.) boosted the anti-oxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries.
- So, if you enjoy a drink – go ahead and add berries to it. And if you enjoy fruits – go ahead and add a bit of alcohol to them. Kafkaesque? Just kidding.
Hyderabadbecomes the third largest urban conglomeration in India
Delhiand Bangalore, Hyderabad(HMDA – Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority) with about 6,876 sqkm of area is the third largest in . India
- Indian Civil Service Day celebrated on 21st April
- The PM gave away the awards for Excellence in Public Administration to Rajiv Chawla (Secretary, e-governance, Karnataka) and R. S. Pandey (Secretary, Ministry of Steel, GoI)
- The Telgi scam
- We all have read about the stamp paper scam perpetrated by Abdul Karim Telgi; right? How may of us know the actual event that led to the unearthing of this scam?
- A complaint was lodged by Deccan Structural Systems Private Limited in
. The company approached Unique Services for registering 425 square meters of land worth Rs. 38 lakh. The latter prepared registration document using stamps worth Rs. 4.94 lakhs in January 1999. When the company wanted to postpone the registration and approached the Treasury for refund of the face value of the stamps, it found that the stamps given by Unique Services were fake. This led to investigation and unearthing of the scam. Bangalore
- The special judge Vishwanath Virupax Angadi looking into the case has convicted Telgi along with a few others in the case. Punishment is not yet spelt out.
- Interesting printing technology from HP
- Called “Edgeline” technology, it makes use of a print head that is as wide as the carriage. As there is no movement of the print head from one end of the carriage to the other end, it brings tremendous speed to the printing process. It enables printing at the speed of 60 to 70 pages per minute.
is 2,760 years old!!! Rome
- Legend has it that
founded this city in 753 BC before killing his rebellious twin brother Remus. Both these brothers were raised by a she-wolf. Romulus goes democratic Bhutan
- Former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck decided to hand over power to an elected government, against the will of his advisers and many subjects, before passing his crown to his 26 year old Oxford educated son last December. He took the throne as a 16 year old boy in 1972. He devolved power to elected local bodies in the 1980’s and to a Council of Ministers in 1998.
- Prime Minsiter of the Kingdom is Khandu Wangchuk.
- A 2006 study by a British scientist ranked
the 8th happiest country in the world. Bhutan
- Jet Airways finally takes over Air Sahara
- The merger talks initiated sometime in 2006, which have fallen through later on, were finally concluded and the merger took place finally.
- The ultimate price paid is Rs. 1900 crores.
- Ever heard of NIXI?
- It is National Internet Exchange of India.
- It was set up in 2003 by the Department of Information Technology to ensure that all domestic traffic be routed within the country.
- But this purpose has not been fully served as only 27 ISPs (Internet Service Providers) out of 135 operational ISPs have joined NIXI nodes at four places. This implies that a majority of domestic traffic is still not routed through NIXI, but is re-routed in the country from abroad.
- Maharaja Duleep Singh’s marble bust auctioned for a record sum
- A marble bust of the last king of Punjab was auctioned for ₤1.7 mn at Bonhams, the world’s oldest and largest auctioneer of the fine art and antiques in
- Duleep Singh was born to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the great warrior king of the Sikhs. At the age of 11 he was removed from his kingdom by British after the Anglo-Sikh wars and exiled to
. There he became a favourite of Queen Britain for handsomeness, graceful and dignified manner. Victoria
- Sea levels and humanity
- Nearly 25% of the world’s population lives below 100 ft above sea level.
- Sea levels are rising about 1 to 2 mm each year.
- Drug price control
- Drug manufacturers are required to get the price of drugs approved by NPPA for brands that contain one or more of the 74 key ingredients classified as scheduled drugs.
- Many brands in the market, which contain price-controlled substances, do not sport government approved prices although they are supposed to do so.
tops global services growth India
- According to a WTO report, though
tops the global services growth, the country’s import growth in commercial services has outpaced exports in 2006. India
- Biggest steamship in the world
of the Seas”, a cruise ship of the Royal Caribbean is the world’s biggest steamship. It can embark up to 3,600 passengers and 1,400 crew members. Liberty
- World Bank and IMF chiefs
- There is an informal arrangement between the
USand the EU wherein the gets to nominate the World Bank chief and the EU nominates the IMF chief. Their nominations are virtually the appointments for these bodies. US
- An excellent comment on our Election Commission
- Ever since the redoubtable TN Seshan transformed the Election Commission from a pliant poodle of the government of the day to an Alsatian guarding the sanctity of the democratic process, the Commission has gained acceptance as a non-partisan body.
- About Indo-US nuclear deal
- There is a good article today on this by Uday Bhaskar. His argument is that
’s composite national interests in relation to the July 2005 agreement cannot be reduced to a unifocal and hypothetical exigency about the right to carry out a nuclear test at a future date. India
- It is a well reasoned article and is worth reading at least once. Do so here. It is by reading such articles that we can hope to get a fair view of any complicated issue. Reading just news articles will not necessarily give us all the insight that is required into articulating our views – especially during interviews.
- Rogerer Federer has achieved a rare feat in Tennis history by notching up his 500th win against David Ferrer in the
- Annual Trade Policy announced
- You know foreign trade policy is announced for a period of 5 years. The current such policy is for the period 1st September 2004 to 31st March, 2009. Take a look at the whole policy document if you are interested here.
- For this policy annual supplements will be released every year. It is this that is announced yesterday for the current year. Take a look at the full document here.
- Major policy announcements made in this are:
- Refund of service tax on export goods.
- New incentives for hi-tech products and agri-products.
- Expansion of the Vishesh Krishi Yojana and the Gram Udyog Yojana.
- Extension of the ECGS (Export Promotion of Capital Goods Scheme) to spares and parts.
- Introduction of flexibility in meeting export obligations under the EPCG scheme.
- Expansion of the focus market and focus product schemes
- Extension of DEPB scheme for a year
- Change in categorization of status holders.
- The country’s share in world trade has just crossed the 1% mark from 0.76% in the previous fiscal.
- Indian exports have touched $125 bn mark in 2006-07. Imports are pegged at $181 bn.
- Stock lending by small investors to be allowed
- Small investors holding some select scrips (about 150 are identified to start with) will be able to lend them to the market and get higher returns than the dividends that are being generated by them.
- This is expected to deepen the market for short-sales and will give added depth and width to the market.
- Differences in the arriving at the 123 Agreement between
Indiaand the US wants access to reprocessing technology and material and a right to reprocess spent fuel. India USlaws ban export of reprocessing technology as it can be used for military purposes but the UShas made exemptions for Japan, EURATOM and . The Switzerland side is maintaining that it will be difficult to give Indian such an exemption. US New Delhidoesn’t want a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing to be included in the 123 agreement but the USwants to include a clause that all USmaterial will be returned in case tests a nuclear weapon. India
- Mobile communities
- A mobile or wireless community is a group of people who are linked together via their mobiles.
- Popular international mobile community sites include sms.ac and QQ from
- Pagalguy.com from
is one such site which connects a large pool of MBAs and MBA aspirants. They have launched a service wherein if you send an SMS to a single number, it will reach all those people who have subscribed to that service. India
- You know my idea is to launch some such service enabling you all to practice taking your prelim exam.
- Whistleblower policy for banks kicked off
- The RBI has introduced a whistleblower policy for private and foreign banks that allows customers, shareholders, NGOs and other members of the public to complain in confidence. The complaints could relate to corruption, misuse of office, criminal offences, suspected/actual frauds and failure to comply with rules.
- However, the complainants’ identity would be revealed if complaint turns out to be frivolous and action will be initiated against the complainant. The complainant has to ensure that the issue raised by him involves dishonest intention/moral angle.
- Basel II norms about capital adequacy
- Banks are required to set aside Rs. 9 as capital for every Rs. 100 they advance as loan.
- More than a dozen state-owned banks have head-room to dilute government equity upto 51% and raise capital. However, to sustain a GDP growth at current levels more credit growth is needed. The credit to GDP ratio in
is at 30% and is much lower than in the developed countries where it is more than 150%. India
- Some good observations about
’s polity Pakistan
- The emergence of radical Islam in
has been the outcome of a grossly inequitable socio-economic and political order. But Islamists are still a marginal electoral force in the country. Even as ideological loudness has, in large measure, been due to the patronage it has received from the army ever since the days of Zia-ul-Haq, who used the Islamists in his cynical power struggle against mainstream parties. Musharraf has learnt that Zia’s legacy cannot be undone through force alone. A popular consensus for secular democracy is needed before all else. Only a political agency capable of articulating disaffection in a modern idiom of development, could take Pakistan beyond radical Islam, military dictatorship and corrupt parties. Pakistan
- I can’t agree more with this assessment.
- Has the RBI been over jealous in its response to rein in inflation? Have its measures contributed to slowing the economy at a much faster pace than what is required?
- Let us look an excellent article written today by Chetan Ahya. Look at the full article here. It echoes 5 criticisms on RBI’s measures and analyses each one of them.
- A large part of the inflation pressure is due to food prices rising and monetary policy tightening will not help.
- Analysis of price trends in various WPI components revels that the recent acceleration in overall inflation is due to manufacturing products.
- RBI has been very slow in the first place in heralding monetary tightening.
- To be fair, the RBI did not want to be aggressive before being sure that supply side response would not match the accelerating demand growth.
- The recent aggressive tightening will slow (demand) growth.
- The key objective of ensuring that inflationary trends do not become self-reinforcing and elevate inflationary expectations justifies this tightening.
- Aggressive tightening will choke off the very supply side response that the RBI was hoping would come through.
- The key challenge for the RBI in determining monetary policy response to the concerns on potential overheating is the extent of lag in supply side changes. Considering this lag, the RBI is forced to tighten right at the time when capex is picking up.
- Inflation is a transient problem and the country should absorb the cost of high inflation in the intermittent period instead of tightening aggressively.
- The democratic political structure does not permit politicians to accept higher inflation for 1 to 2 years.
’s supply side response tends to be particularly slow in areas where government influence is high. The central bank has not control over these two factors. India
- It refers to the persistence of below trend growth (high unemployment) and stubbornly high inflation.
- The term was first used by a British Member of Parliament, Ian MacLeod, in a 1965 speech.
- Global Business
for the Environment. It is co-organized by UN Global Compact, a 7 year old initiative that works with businesses to enhance environmental and social ideals. GBSE at its recent conclave in Summit discussed ways in which corporations can fight climate change. Singapore
- Champions of Earth awards
- Awarded by UNEP to 7 people. Know the full details here.
- Former Vice President of the
, Al Gore and Jacques Rogge the president of the International Olympic Committee are among the awardees. USA
- Ethanol-fuelled vehicles less healthy
- We have all been watching closely how ethanol can ultimately substitute petroleum products as fuel. But a study has thrown surprising results. It says that ethanol-fuelled vehicles can contribute more respiratory illnesses than gasoline-powered automobiles.
- The study projects that deaths relating to air pollution would rise by 4% in the
, if all cars and trucks are fuelled by ethanol. US loses the bid to host 2014 Asian games India
- It lost it
. The city of South Korea Incheonin will be hosting the games. South Korea
- BJP MP in human trafficking case
- Babubhai Khimabhai Katara, a tribal MP from
Gujaratwas nabbed by the police in a human trafficking case, while he was noticed taking one Paramjit Kaur and her 16 year old son abroad on his diplomatic passport. He showed them as his wife and son.
- National Skills Registry
- It is a database of third party verified personal, qualifications and career information of IT professionals, and allows employers to view verified resumes of IT professionals.
- It was launched by NASSCOM in January 2006 to address concerns over information security breach and fake resumes.
- So far about 1 lakh people have applied to be enlisted in this registry.
- BOT (annuity) deals in road projects may get the boot
- A BOT (annuity) road project is one where the government bears the traffic and revenue risks but continues to make a fixed semi-annual payment to the developer.
- The PM’s Economic Advisory Council is considering bidding a goodbye to such type of projects as the Planning Commission has also felt that this model is a burden on the exchequer.
- Prof. Abhijit Sen committee
- It was constituted to look into the impact of futures trading on price rise in agricultural commodities.
- In its hearings, the commodity exchanges have argued that:
- Price rise in commodities is a function of supply – not of futures trading; and
- Commodities such as jowar, bajra and moong that contributed to inflation are not even traded on the exchanges.
- The committee is likely to seek more time to finalize its report.
- BRIC countries’s economic power
- They (
Brazil, Russia, Indiaand ) account for around 8% of the global economy while G-6 countries account for almost 65%. The share of BRIC countries will increase due to higher real growth and appreciation of their currencies in future. China
- A good comment on reservation policy
- The reservation regime as it has evolved, particularly in the south, is envisaged as a stable and permanent power sharing arrangement between different communities, not as a temporary measure to remedy disparities as envisaged in the Constitution. In Tamilnadu 69% of the seats are reserved covering over 80% of the population. This means that the views of those in the ‘general’ category are not represented in legislatures and only courts can uphold their rights.
- Is there a case for trade promotion now?
- As we wait on the commerce minister Kamal Nath to announce his latest amendments to the trade policy, let us look at some cogent reasons given by today’s editorial:
- Firstly, the reports of the death of Indian competitiveness, due to the appreciating rupee, are highly exaggerated. A stronger rupee directly cheapens all imported inputs of
’s exports. Import-intensity of Indian exports range between 60 to 90% in most cases. A stronger rupee dampens domestic inflation and reduces pressure on the central bank to tighten credit. The entire economy, including export activity, gains from the resultant brake on rising production costs. India
- Secondly, as the proposed switch over to an integrated GST (Goods and Services Tax) has been kicked off, all indirect taxes of the Centre and the states get subsumed in that GST and credit for taxes that have been paid becomes transparent and automatic. This weakens the case for arbitrary levels of offsets such as DEPB and would allow Indian exports to be shorn of any tax burden without attracting charges of unfair subsidy from rivals in international trade.
- Thirdly, it is natural for an economy like
to witness a leveling off of the share of exports in GDP. That is, it should not be a surprise to see the growth in exports being lower than the nominal GDP growth. India
- For all these reasons, there is no case for desperate acts of trade promotion, argues the paper.
- It is fashionable for some to keep arguing that no cutting-edge research gets done in
India– either by indigenous companies or by MNCs who are allowed to set up shop in . If we look at two examples from GE’s India R&D Centerin , we are sure to become skeptical about such arguments. They have filed more than 460 patents from their Bangalore centre alone. Take a look: Bangalore
- A bumber (for cars) that ensures safety of pedestrians too. Made of a special plastic called XENOY, the bumper is designed to absorb most of the energy of the collision causing very little damage to the pedestrian.
- AutoBone is an application that gives the physicians a 3D image of the brain in a matter of a few minutes from the 2D CT scans. This helps radiologists diagnose the problem more accurately and easily.
slowdown and global boom US
- My favourite Professor from IIMA has written again on a favourite subject of mine. I predicted sometime back in this blog that a
USslowdown is sure to hurt many economies worldwide, including ’s. India
- He has a slightly different take on the subject – and more insightful one at that – about it.
- He writes “Whether a US recession is caused by a factor specific to the
or not is, … crucial in determining its impact on the rest of the world.” He reels out four factors that show that the present global boom can co-exist with a US slowdown. US
- Firstly, the present slowdown in US is due to US specific developments namely, corrections in US housing and manufacturing sectors rather than to broad-based factors.
- Secondly, the
is going through mid-cycle slowdown, not a recession. US
- Thirdly, for some economies, trade linkages with the
have become less important. US
- Fourthly, domestic demand is strengthening in both industrial and emerging economies.
- I sincerely hope that the Professor is right. But stock markets throw nasty surprises most of the time. Hence my prediction that the
housing mortgage blues are going to make a negative impact on our stock markets in the near to medium term. An oil shock (which is unlikely in this horizon) can aggravate the situation, unless other factors which are seen as perking up the mood appear on the horizon alleviating the situation. US
- I was asked to explain “clinical data” in the shout-box by Mahima
- I replied that it is data gathered during clinical trials.
- Look at some details as to what are clinical trials:
- Clinical trial is a carefully planned experiment to evaluate a treatment or a medication (often a new pharmaceutical) for an unproven use. Phase I trials are very preliminary short-term trials involving a few patients to see if drugs have any activity or any serious side effects. Phase II trials may involve 20 to 50 patients and are designed to estimate the most active dose of a new drug and determine its side effects. Phase III studies are randomized controlled trials on large patient groups (300–3,000 or more depending upon the condition) and are aimed at being the definitive assessment of the efficacy of the new therapy, in comparison with current 'Gold Standard' treatment. Phase IV trials involve the post-launch safety surveillance and ongoing technical support of a drug.