- Some more answers to your queries in shout-box come your way in today’s Discover It. Take a look at them here.
- Currency futures may be allowed by RBI
- A currency future is a derivative contract to exchange one currency for another at a specified date in the future.
- It is only slightly different from a forward contract in that, in the case of the latter the amount and maturity of the contract are standardized.
- As of now, there are two ways through which exporters and importers can seek a hedge against volatile currency movements. One is by way of forward cover and the other is via the option route.
- CBI not for routine cases, rules the Supreme Court
- Directions under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code cannot be given to the CBI to investigate cases where there are no complexities involved.
- Only in cases where the investigating agency is not doing proper investigation and/or that there is reason to believe that there is laxity in the investigation, can CBI be called in, ruled the Supreme Court.
- Education – a fundamental right?
- Back in 2002 the Constitution was amended (86th Amendment) making education a fundamental right. But this is yet to be notified, because the enabling Right to Education legislation is not ready.
- In 2006, a high level group consisting of Arjun Singh, P. Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and C. Rangarajan had been entrusted with the task of considering the Right to Education Bill in the broader context of NCMP – National Common Minimum Programme, its legal and constitutional framework and its financial implications.
- The group recommended that a model bill be prepared for states to adopt or modify existing Right to Educational laws. 18 states have such laws in place. But no reasonable progress can be achieved on this front in view of the huge financial commitments required for the exercise. One estimate puts a figure of Rs. 3,21,196 crores to be spent over 5 years for implementing this legislation.
- Estimates about the number of people in the 6 to 13 years age group
- Kapil Sibal CABE report puts it at 23.01 crore for 2007-08.
- Census figures put this at 19.21 crores.
- By the year 2011-12 the child population is estimated to be reaching 24.86 crores by the CABE report and 18.53 crores by Census.
- Long distance travel can cause VTE
- Venous Thrombo Embolism. Travel by air, car or other means for long hours can cause VTE. What happens in this is, blood gets clotted and such clots can be fatal if they move up to lungs.
- VTE is often dubbed as ‘economy class syndrome.’
- NASA and Martian rover
- NASA is about to send its rover into a crater on Mars. That crater is Victoria Crater, which is located near the equator of Mars.
Opportunityis one of the two rovers that are there on Mars. Can you recall the other one?
- Tendulkar reaches another milestone
- In the match against
South Africaat , he crossed the 15,000 run mark in the one day internationals. Belfast won the match. India
- And finally it’s the weekend!!! Time for some relaxation and enjoyment. How about some dance lessons? Take a look at this interesting video that I came across on the YouTube. All of 2.14 minutes duration, it teaches you how to moonwalk and airwalk!!! Don’t know what they are? Go see the Michael Jackson songs. Take a look and enjoooooooooooy…
- I have answered a couple of your shout-box queries. One is on RBI taking over the SBI stake and the other is on Agri-clinics. Take a look at these in our Discover It blog.
visa controversy US
- We noted sometime back that the
senators are suspecting that the Indian IT majors are misusing the H1-B visas to displace qualified American workers. US
- They are now leveling fresh allegations that these companies are misusing the L visa. The L visa is designed to give freedom to companies the freedom to transfer managers and specialists within the company to their
- Wireless electricity
- We noted sometime back about this. We take a look at the technology details that appeared in today’s ET.
- Two small copper coils are separated from each other by about two meters. One is connected to a power source – plugged to a wall socket – and the other is connected to a lightbulb waiting to be turned on. When the power from the wall is turned on, electricity from the first metal coil creates a magnetic field around that coil. The coil attached to the lightbulb picks up the magnetic field, which in turn creates a current within the second coil, turning on the bulb.
- However, the system is only 40% efficient compared to lighting a wired bulb. But it could be useful to wirelessly power devices which have low power consumption – like mobile phones.
- In the years to come, the technology is likely to be refined and be deployed on a larger scale.
- Advances in skin grafting
- Scientists at
based biotechnology firm Intercytex have come out with a method to grow skin artificially. Cambridge
- Known as ICX-SKN, this could help in healing wounds and cancer patients.
- Fibroblasts are cells that are responsible for the production of collagen. Collagen is the protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity.
- What they have done is to coax fibroblasts into multiplying and producing collagen. After a few weeks, the cells and collagen knit together to form a section of skin-like material.
- Statistics Day to be celebrated today
- This coincides with the birth anniversary of noted statistician P.C. Mahalanobis.
- On this occasion, the National Award in Statistics for Young Statisticians for the year 2006-07 will be presented to Dr. Ayanendranath Basu of ISI, Kolkata.
- The recipient of this year’s International Mahalnobis Award is Dr. IP David.
- Difference between EBs and FCCBs
- We have noted in our blogs about both these instruments.
- EBs – Exchangeable Bonds are debt-equity instruments that will enable companies to tap overseas markets for raising capital by unlocking value in their group companies.
- FCCBs – Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds – can be redeemed only for shares of the issuing company – not group companies in which the issuer has a stake.
- The government is likely to prescribe a minimum threshold level for the coupon rate on EBs to ensure that only quality paper is issued to international investors.
- Footwear figures
- It is really quite sometime since I have given you figures about markets. Whenever you have to write a good essay on a subject in detail, it becomes imperative to lace it with it facts and figures. Let’s look at the footwear market today.
- The annual production of footwear in
is pegged at 2095.3 lakh pairs in 2006-07. India
- Small scale sector accounts for over 55% of the total footwear production.
India’s share of the global footwear imports is at 1.5% as against ’s 14%. China
- For a population of about 112 crores, we are producing hardly about 21 crore footwear!! Is this translating to something like only one in every 5 persons having footwear?
- Red Fort makes it to the World Heritage List
- This was built by Shah Jehan in the 17th century.
- WTO’s newest member
, a Kingdom in the South Pacific has become the 151st member in WTO. Tonga
- I have answered a query about Dutch disease and our exchange rate in today’s Discover It blog. Take a look at it here.
- About blank cheque firms
- These firms raise funds through public offerings with the intention of acquiring small and mid-sized companies in a particular sector or geography.
- These companies’ managements get in effect a blank cheque from shareholders to invest and hence the name. These companies are also called Special Purpose Acquisition Companies.
- When they zero in on a potential acquisition, they ask their shareholders for approval and go ahead with the deal. They make investments in one or multiple companies. Most such firms have been raising funds in the rage of $100 mn.
- What’s a ‘liftoff’ in headhunter parlance?
- It is snatching a team of employees, as opposed to a single employee, from a company into some other company.
- British PM
- Tony Blair laid down the office and Gordon Brown has taken over as the country’s PM.
- It is reported hat Blair will be accepting a new role as
Middle Eastenvoy. This is a responsibility that is being thought of by the four major powers – the US, EU, and UN. Russia
- Ozone pollution
- All of you would remember about the Ozone hole. Let’s know something about Ozone’s polluting characteristics.
- Ozone is a dangerous air pollutant that can cause irritation in the respiratory system, triggering shortness of breath, chest pain when inhaling deeply and wheezing and coughing.
- Ozone is formed when sunlight acts on hydrocarbon pollutants spewed out into the air by vehicles and such industrial processes as painting, oil refining and manufacture of chemicals.
- The IPI pipeline and its problems
- While our petroleum minister is reported to have been hopeful of clinching the deal shortly,
is keeping on upping the ante by seeking more changes in the clauses of the agreement. It now wants the gas prices to be reviewed once in every three years. Iran is seeking a transportation tariff of $.70 per mBtu while we are willing to pay about $0.55 per mBtu. Further as against Pakistan ’s demand of $0.493 per mBtu towards transit fee, we are willing to pay about $0.20 per mBtu. Islamabad
- With all these conflicting demands, the pipeline appears to me a pipe dream.
- Does economic growth help alleviate poverty?
- The following excerpt from an article written today in ET centre page is worth our attention.
- Assertions that growth barely trickles down to the poor are nonsense. Sustained rapid growth does not just trickle down, it forcefully ‘pulls up’ the poor into gainful employment.
- Look at our experience. During 1950-1980, our per capita income grew less than 1.5% per annum with the result that we achieved no reduction in poverty. But growth began to accelerate in the 1980’s. Per capita incomes annually grew approximately 4.5% between late 1980’s and 2006-07. During the last four years, they increased almost 7% per annum. Correspondingly, the proportion of the poor in the population has been cut into half since the mid-1980’s.
- The founder of Brahma Kumari sect
- Dada Lekhraj
- What are equity-linked notes?
- These notes, which are structured as NCDs – Non-conertible debentures, have payoffs that are dependant on underlying equity index or portfolio.
- For instance, the bond could be issued at Rs. 100 which pays off 100+3% at maturity and tweaked with an equity kicker or option. The option could be if the Nifty moves by more than 50% anytime between the day of allotment and the maturity of the bond. The payout would increase to Principal+20% at maturity or redemption date.
- Bamboo seeds turn Viagra
- In Mizoram, bamboo seeds that appear every 50 years are considered a harbinger of famine. Because by eating these seeds, rats multiply very quickly.
- Reportedly local people there seem to have discovered their aphrodisiac properties. But initial tests conducted by NIN found nothing to substantiate these beliefs.
- A very well written definition of organic farming
- It is a form of agriculture that avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, plant growth regulators and livestock feed additives.
- Organic farmers rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity.
- Yesterday we noted something about the East Asian Currency crisis in Discover It blog. Today we look at the second part of that. Follow this link to read it.
- Mobile wallet
- Airtel and IBM are working on a mobile wallet that can turn our mobile phone into a credit or debit card and also offer a host of other services. Our credit or debit card information will be incorporated in the mobile SIM.
- Mobile Wallet has been pioneered in
by NTT-DoCoMo and is gaining popularity there. Japan
- About Apple CEO, Steve Jobs
- A high-performance achiever’s biography will be inspiring at times. An article that is reproduced in today’s ET is worth a read. Follow this link to read it.
- On OCIs and PIOs
- Do you remember that we noted about OCIs and PIOs sometime back in our Discover It blog. Follow this to know some basic info about them.
- Now, a proposal to give equal rights to OCIs and NRIs was shot down by the finance ministry.
- The OCI scheme was notified in 2005. An OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) is essentially a person of Indian origin having the advantage of dual citizenship.
- By definition an NRI is one who stays in
for less than 182 days in the country. India
- Committee on evolving a policy for coal distribution
- It is headed by HC Gupta
- Is our economy monsoon-dependent?
- We are fed on this belief for quite long to forget this. But empirical evidence contradicts this view.
- 2004 was the worst year in recent times, which recorded abnormal rainfall deviation from normal. Though GDP slowed, manufacturing showed blistering pace during that year. Inflation was much lower than the previous year.
- In 2005 also the country received lower rainfall than normal. Despite this there was growth in GDP and manufacturing and inflation was lower.
- In 2006, though rainfall was much better than in the previous two years, inflation doubled.
- This shows the view that our economy is monsoon-dependent is not correct.
- Problems besetting our oil exploration sector
- We get a clear picture of this when we look at the Cairn experience in Rajasthan (Barmer). With the oil discovery here, the Company expects to produce about 20% of the country’s output i.e., 1,50,000 barrels per day by 2009.
- But there are problems facing the company in evacuating the crude for refining it. There are two routes to refining crude produced here. Either it can be refined by constructing a refinery locally or it can be refined in other refineries located on the western coast by transporting it there through pipelines. If a local refinery is to be built, economies of scale demand that a large refinery (much beyond the needed 3-4 MT capacity) be built. But if such a refinery is built, it needs more crude which needs to be transported to it – again possibly by a pipeline and also it would take 4 to 5 years to build one.
- If, on the other hand, a pipeline is to be used, it is proving to be a costly affair in view of the delay in approving it by the petroleum ministry. The delay is attributed to the contract which authorized the government to name a nominee to evacuate the crude. The nominee turned out to be MRPL which drove a hard bargain. The upshot is that Cairn and ONGC have agreed to build a pipeline at a capital cost of $600 mn to be shared between them @70:30.
- What does all this point to? The policy muddle in the sector. It is time the government moves fast and clears the muddle. Unless it does so, it sure sends a wrong signal to prospective investors in our oil exploration business.
- World’s longest sea bridge
- Is built over
Hangzhou Baynear Cixi in China’s . Zhejiang Province
- It is 36 km long and connects Jiaxing and
- For quite some time I have kept pending a piece on East Asian Currency crisis. It will be a longish piece. It will appear in two parts in our Discover It blog. Take a look at the first piece today there.
- Water cess on industries
- At present pollution control boards of states levy a cess on the basis of prescribed optimal use of water per unit of production and do not give weightage to overall quantum of water consumption.
- The water cess varies between 20 paise and 25 paise (per kilolitre) from state to state.
- Now the government is planning to levy a use-based cess on them. This could possibly hit the soft drink maker very hard.
- Chattisgarh village shows the way to clean sanitation
- Dabena village in Chattisgarh, led by its sarpanch Dinesh Kaushik has set an example of sorts to bring in sanitation sense to the masses.
- Read this compelling story about how to single-handedly bring large mass of people to shame and make them act on fighting it. I am not able to find the web link for it. Go through it in the physical edition.
- Prime Minister of
- Surayud Chulanont
’s biggest uranium processing unit opened India
- At Turamdih on the outskirts of
- Capping iron ore exports
- In a bid to avoid putting in place export controls for iron ore, the government is moving in the direction of initiating control measures that would kick off once the export growth in iron ore crosses a certain limit – say of 10 or 15%.
- Only when export growth crosses the set limit will there be any cap on the exports of the ore.
- Inflation – one is low while the other is high
- Though the WPI based inflation is down for the third successive week, the CPI (UNME) is remaining high at 6.8%.
- This is attributed to the fact that the CPI basket has a higher composition of food items (60%) than the WPI basket (26%). Hence it is more sensitive to a rise in food prices.
at the receiving end from the EU on counterfeit drugs issue India
- A report by EU has alleged large scale supply of ‘counterfeit’ drugs by
to the region. India has taken these allegations seriously and has sought details from the EU on these. India is the 4th largest producer of pharmaceuticals by volume. Nearly half of its revenue is coming from exports to the EU and the India . US
- Global industry estimates put the counterfeit drugs sale at 10% of the global market.
’s retail story India
- A McKinsey report puts
as the fifth largest market in 2025 from its 12th position today. India
- The middle class from
is expected to touch 550 mn by that year with about very wealthy being over 20 mn. India
- Chinese forex power
Chinaholds $414 bn of the $4.4 trillion of all marketable treasury securities as of April, 2007!!! US
- What is the largest foreign bank operating in
- It is Citibank now. It has displaced Standard Chartered from the number one position.
- This is based on the assets position.
- Beggar-thy-neighbour policy
- Any policy measure employed by a country to improve domestic productivity that has an impact on rival economies is termed as one.
- These policies are so defined because they are usually at the cost of some other economy which suffers in terms of lower exports or higher imports. It is largely used in the context of exchange rate management where the government deliberately devalues its currency to keep its exports competitive.
- Other means through which such a policy can be put in place include – high tariffs or quotas on imports and providing direct subsidies to exports.
- Time for Tennis at
- In the last 100 years, Bjorn Borg is the only man who has won the
Wimbledontitle five times in a row.
- Pete Sampras won the title four times in a row.
- Do you know who serves the fastest in Tennis at present?
- Andy Roddick was recorded serving at 155 mph!!!
constituent assembly Nepal
- Polls for it are scheduled to be held on November 22.
- Apart from re-writing the constitution, the special assembly is also to decide on the fate of the 238 year old monarchy.
- Specialty of Indira Kranthi Patham in AP
- Under this, the SHGs (Self Help Groups) have tied up with LIC to provide life and accident cover to villagers by eliminating insurance agents as middlemen.
- The SHGs themselves are working as insurance agents and are also collecting claims.
- What are the possible consequences of the WTO talks falling through?
- There would be a danger of the existing rules being flouted or broken.
- A diminution of the credibility of the institution of WTO.
- Small and vulnerable economies would also lose out if the
round dies, as few powers would seek them out in bilateral trade alliances. Doha
- Development goals attached to the
agenda would also fall by the wayside in such a piecemeal system. Doha
- Some interesting facts in the context of WTO stalled talks
- While less than 1% of
USpopulation is dependent on agriculture, for about 60% of the population is dependent on it. US is unwilling to cut its farm subsidies and prefers to keep the farm products artificially cheap. India
- But I am also beginning to wonder, whether we should confine our vision only to the farmers of the
USand and lose sight of the remaining global population that is dependent on agriculture. India
- Lemento – A lemon and tomato
- Israeli researchers have genetically engineered tomatoes to give hints of lemon and rose aromas.
- The GM (Genetically Modified) tomatoes have only a light red colour, because they have only half as much lycopene as conventional tomatoes.
- CMD of Coal India Limited
- Partha Bhattacharya
- LPG and Kerosene excise duty issue
- Government removed the excise duty on these products in 2005.
- But for the period prior to 2005, the oil companies have to pay about Rs. 1000 crore as excise duty on these products. This is now likely to be waived off by the Government.
- The logic behind such a waiver is that the excise duty leviable on them is effectively being paid by the government. As the duty is leviable at the factory gate price, which is higher than the market price because of government subsidies, levying excise duty on the factory gate price, doesn’t make sense.
- IPI pipeline by month end?
- The Union Minister for Petroleum and Natual Gas, Murli Deora is quoted as saying that the agreement among the three nations on this is almost finalized.
- This $7.4 bn, 1035 km pipleine project from
Iranto Indiathrough has been beset with problems relating to pricing, transportation and transit fee fixation issues. Pakistan
- I am at times left to wonder whether it is worth pursuing at all.
, which has originally agreed for a certain price for the natural gas has reneged on that commitment. A pipeline that acquires strategic significance when laid, passing through an openly hostile country like Iran doesn’t give much confidence in so far as reliability of supplies is concerned. Pakistan ’s household savings and investment culture India
- Only a small percentage of household savings goes into equities and debentures – 0.8% of GDP and 4.9% of gross financial savings at the end of March 2006.
- 48% of US households have exposure to Mutual Funds against about 5% for
- ADB’s key staff
- President: Haruhiko Kuroda
- Managing Director General: Rajat Nag
- What a designation? We noted this because the name sounds a bit Indian.
Indiadebuted playing Test matches with its Test against at Lord’s. England
- That was 75 years ago – June 25, 1932.
- CK Nayudu (Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu) led the Indian team.
lost the match of course. India
- I have answered a shout-box query on natural gas pricing issue in today’s Discover It blog. Take a look at it here.
- Something about vehicle recall in
- Bajaj has decided to recall some of its 220 cc and 200 cc Pulsar bikes from the market following detection of components’ malfunctioning.
- This, it appears, is not the first such recall. A couple of years ago Maruti called back about 500 Zens because of coolant leakage in the cars. Hyundai Motors also had replaced the grill of Elantra because the customers reacted badly to it. Daimler Chysler too had replaced a faulty brake sensors in its cars. Honda Siel had replaced faulty parts in about 2000 Accords.
- Globally two notable recalls were:
- Ford’s recall of Explorer SUVs because of Firestone tyres.
- Mitsubishi’s recall of 514,000 vehicles after a raid on its headquarters revealed a huge pile of unattended complaints from customers.
- The airline that pioneered gambling in mid-air!!
- Ryan Air.
- It is set to launch in-flight gambling. With this it hopes to not charge the passengers at all for flying!!
- RFID revolution
- You should read articles like these at times. “Wear your chip or eat it” that appeared in today’s ET. I find that articles like these are better read at least once instead of relying on notes made by somebody like me.
- Look at the myriad possibilities in which RFID can be used!! Do you remember seeing these tags anytime while you were shopping? RFID tags are also being used in transport sector, asset tracking, railway container movements etc.
- Bofors, Quattrocchi blah blah blah
- I got really tired of this case. This is what is called public indifference. People seem to be no longer interested in this case. This is what happens when cases take years to get solved.
- You know that Quattrocchi was arrested in
Argentinarecently and as usual, we – – lost the case to extradite him from there, because our case is weak. India
- A former CBI Director, Joginder Singh feels that there is still a strong case for his extradition. He feels that there is strong evidence in the form of a November 1985 contract between AE Services, the subsidiary of a firm owned by Quattrocchi, and
, to have him extradited. This agreement required Quattrocchi’s company to win the contract for Bofors by March 31, 1986 for a 3% commission. If you look at the fact that Bofors contract was actually awarded on March 24, 1986 and an amount of $7.34 mn was paid to Quattrocchi, the case of prosecution is strong to get the extradition. Bofors AB Bihar’s new liquor policy
- It seems to be allowing liquor vends to be opened every 8 km!!
- New treaty for EU agreed upon
- The 27 bloc of the European nations has finally agreed on a new EU treaty.
- Luxembourg PM
- Jean Claude Juncker
’s PM Poland
- Jaroslaw Kaczynski
- Some terminology relating to astrology!!
- Take a look at this – Clairvoyance corner.
- It has some interesting new names to learn – cartomancy (tarot reading), aura reading, tasseography and crystal gazing.
- What does ‘Pulse’ in Pulse Polio program stand for?
- This was a question that some of you asked me through shout-box when we noted about this program in our Discover It blog. Take a look at our noting in Discover It here.
- Earlier I remember having answered that it is the periodicity of immunization that gives it the name.
- Now it is answered in today’s TOI Open Space column that it stands for Post-Resuscitation and Initial Utility in Life Saving Efforts.
- What are NSG countries?
- They are the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. The group comprising of 45 countries seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. It does this by regulating nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports through implementation of guidelines with appropriate safeguards, physical protection, non-proliferation conditions and other required restraints.
- We have noted this in the context of Indo-US nuclear deal. Even though the US amended its laws to deal with the nuclear India, for India to become officially recognized as a nuclear state, the NSG also has to allow nuclear fuel supplies’ trade to be conducted with the country by the other members of the NSG.
- And before we log off for the day, are we still on a high on yesterday’s video? Do you ever watch the program ViQ on Channel V? I really like that program. Take a look at this funny video, you will know what I am talking of…
- In today’s Discover It blog I have answered a couple of your queries. Take a look at them here.
- What’s a baloney?
- It is pretentious or silly talk or writing.
- FDI in retail – a recap
- 51% foreign investment in single brand retail is allowed. Multiple brand retailers in
are limited to cash-and-carry and franchise or licence operations. India
- You know what is cash-and-carry; don’t you? If in doubt, refer this that we noted in Discover It blog sometime back.
- Some snippets about Indian Railways’ assets
- Indian Railways has nearly 7,000 stations, 300 railyards and 2,300 goods sheds along 63,000 km of tracks criss-crossing
- It has one of the largest land banks with it in the country. It has 4.23 lakh hectares of land, of which about 43,000 hectares is lying unused.
- It also has 7 cinema halls, which were started as a measure of employee welfare scheme.
building another nuclear reactor Pakistan
- It appears that it is constructing a reactor at Khushab, 170 km southwest of
- It is possible that
is looking at improving its nuclear capabilities with a ‘new generation’ of plutonium based weapons. Pakistan
- Plutonium-based weapons pack more explosive power into smaller, lighter packages than those made with uranium, which
has been using for years. Pakistan
- What is Project Blackbox?
- It is the brainchild of Sun Microsystems. In this it is packing a steel container with powerful computers. The container can go anywhere with power, water and a network connection. Sun says it can cut power needs by 20% with the container setup.
- WTO talks – why stalled?
- We should never get tired of noting these reasons; should we? Yeah, I hear all ‘nays.’ This being one of the most favourite subjects in any exam or interview, it is worth repeating it as many times as it warrants.
- Three core areas which are stalling the progress in talks:
- Farm subsidies
- Rich countries must slash the subsidies they pay farmers, which poor countries say distort trade. The
UShas offered a $23 bn ceiling to its spending, but and others want it to be $12 bn. Brazil
- Farm tariffs
- The EU, which is the main target of developing country demands, has offered cuts of around 50% overall, but the US had been seeking 66%.
- Industrial goods
- Developed countries are demanding that developing states accept a 15% ceiling for industrial tariffs, while they would go down to 10%. But leading developing countries say this would mean they would have to cut far more than their richer trading partners.
- Man-machine interface
- Ever bitten by the idea of making machines do your bidding? As a computer enthusiast and manager of software projects, I had been at one point in time.
has developed an interface that analyzes and understands changes in the brain’s blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals. Hitachi
- The technology could one day be used in remote controls and keyboards and perhaps help disabled people operate electric wheelchairs, beds or artificial limbs. Initial uses would be helping people with paralyzing diseases communicate even after they have lost all control of their muscles.
- In the context of competition law, we need to understand two concepts:
- Anti-competitive agreements
- These include deals regarding production and supply among enterprises selling similar goods or services that affect competition.
- Abuse of dominance
- This includes unfair or discriminatory conditions on sale of goods directly or indirectly.
- Why was the Sasan mega power project stuck in a controversy?
- The controversy was over change in ownership and misrepresentation of facts by the winning consortium
. Lanco Infratech-Globeleq, Singapore
- Globeleq decided to sell some part of its global business, including the
operations that had been bought over by Jindal Steel and Power. The change of ownership of the consortium after winning the bid is controversial. The other bidders in the fray contested this change of ownership. Singapore
- Questions were also raised over the claims made by the winning bidder about their expertise and financial strength to handle such a large project.
- The big picture about bank credit
- Outstanding loan portfolio of commercial banks in the country amounted to over Rs. 15 lakh crores as at end March, 2006.
- About 90.3% of the accounts accounted for only 16.4% of the outstanding loans.
- Less than 1% of the borrowers – large corporates – cornered 31.1% of the loans.
- This distribution shows that although banks have been aggressively growing retail portfolios, personal lines of credit account for a very small percentage of bank loans.
- Judicial verdict pronounced in the
communal riot case Bhagalpur
- The 1989 case in which 116 Muslims were massacred, has finally been decided, holding 14 people guilty and punishing them. But the inordinate delay in bringing to justice the guilty has led to some meaningful observations. Let’s take a look:
- The judgment which came 18 long years after the carnage was perpetrated, has proved to be an unconscionable dud. The inordinately long time taken by the court to fix culpability has rendered its verdict virtually meaningless.
- Slum dwellers need rights not projects
- An excellent article in today’s centre page argues that the world’s poor need security of property rights and rule of law, not government housing projects and UN plans. It is worth a read. Do read it here.
too, planning policies discourage building homes for the migrants and encourage spread of slums. The poor are willing to invest time, money and effort in their well-being. India
- The world’s population of slums is close to a billion and growing. But slums are not caused by the poor. They are caused by governments denying people the right to own and exchange property. When people own their property, they have incentives to improve it because they know they will be able to benefit from any such improvements. They are also able to obtain mortgages, providing capital for all sorts of ventures. In short, property rights beget capital, which begets innovation and creativity, which begets wealth.
- What is the game that Anirban Lahiri is associated with?
- He won the LG-Southern India amateur golf tournament.
- About Presidential contest
- In spite of covering about it on the subject, I was not convinced whether or not it has given you a solid understanding of the issue. But when I saw today’s graphic that appeared in The Hindu, I was really happy. It is not uncommon for some of you to receive advice about the importance of figures in essays – especially while attempting optionals. Take a look at today’s graphic in The Hindu. If your figure can do what it has done to explain a concept, the reader (i.e., examiner, in your case) would instantaneously recognize that you know what you are saying and are capable of expressing it very well. That will give you excellent marks.
- Take a look at the graphic here.
- Some entertainment
- I have always been a believer in the dictum that says “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
- I have toyed with the idea of letting you see some good YouTube music or other videos for quite some time, but desisted from it. Having deliberated on it for quite some time, I thought I should not hold myself. Though some of you have been very critical of my giving a much celebrated photo of Marilyn Monroe, I am strongly of the view that you all should relax for quite some time after a day’s hard work. But such relaxation also is to be carefully practiced. The relaxation should not become that proverbial tail that wags the dog. It is the dog that should wag the tail. Okay? Take a look and enjoy today’s video. And don’t stray beyond by clicking on the video and going where you should not be going and wasting time. Just watch only this video and enjoy. Have a nice weekend.
- Today’s video is ‘Say It Right’ from one of my favourite singers – Nelly Furtado. Here it goes…
the first country to induct suface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile in the world? India
- Though today’s paper says so with the induction of 290 km range Brahmos missile, I am a bit skeptical about this.
- Have any inputs on this?
- Further liberalization of the FDI guidelines
- Press Note 1, which bars multinationals in existing joint ventures from setting up another venture in a similar line of business without a no-objection certificate from the Indian JV partner, is set for an amendment.
- The government is thinking of exempting several sectors from the purview of this PN.
- DGH slashes gas estimates
- Gas discovery estimates made by ONGC and GSPC have been slashed drastically by the DGH and kept at about 10% of the original valuation.
- This downward revision means that
could face a shortfall of 50 MMSCMD in 2010. India
- What are the factors that are heavily loaded against the government procurement of land for SEZ?
- One, taking land away from one private owner and handing it over to another exhibits its preference for one set of citizens over another.
- Secondly, this disallows proper play of market forces and the compensation to land-holders, no matter how generous it is, always runs the risk of falling short.
- Lastly, in state after state, increasing investment figures are not necessarily leading to higher employment numbers. There is no guarantee that SEZs will help solve that problem.
- What are the problems being faced by agriculture in
- You can always read any standard textbook or the Year Book to know these, but let’s take a look at what the people with current knowledge have to say on this.
- Mismanagement, archaic rules which inhibit the farmer from realizing proper returns for his crop, an abysmal level of infrastructure, antiquated land laws are some of the problems that currently plague the farm sector.
- Population growth and improving economic wellbeing is already putting pressure on the available food stock.
- Fragmentation of farmland holding, is leading to a drop in yields and aggravating the problem in many states. Statistics show that till 2000-01, marginal holdings (less than 1 hectare) account for 63% of all land holdings in the country. Cumulatively, the small and marginal (between 1 and 2 hectares) holdings together account for over 82% of the land holdings in the country.
- The growth in net sown areas has been very meager – 18.64% over 53 years. In 1950-51, it was 118.75 mn hectares while in 2003-04 it was 140.88 mn hectares.
- Bjorn Borg holds the maximum successive wins at
Wimbledon. Five wins.
- Pete Sampras holds the maximum of
Wimbledoncrowns – seven in all.
- Islamic seminaries issue fatwa against caste quotas in AP
- The AP government’s move to introduce reservations to Muslims in education and employment on the basis of caste system, did not find favour with the Islamic seminaries.
- They said that there is no caste system in Islam and that this type of division was unacceptable in shaariat.
- Scientists closer to therapeutic cloning
scientists say they have successfully created embryonic stem cells from monkey embryos. Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon National Primate Research Centre said he had succeeded using modified Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer or SCNT. US
- Korean cloning scientist Woo Soom Hwang lost his job over fabricated successes using human eggs.
- About cost audits
- The ministry of corporate affairs has a cost audit branch. All manufacturing companies are expected to keep cost records as per the rules notified by this branch. It orders cost auditing in companies in specific circumstances:
- To make decisions related to pricing, excise duty, income tax and in calculating the injury suffered by the domestic industry by dumping from other countries.
- Cost audit is mandated for companies having more than a turnover of Rs. 10 crore.
- Is adding more jobs than other BRIC countries good enough?
- No says today’s ET editorial. While noting that we added about 11 mn new jobs every year during 2000-05, which is about half the number added by the remaining three BRIC countries, it points out that the 61st NSSO survey reveals that while employment grew by 2.48% per annum, labour force grew even faster at 2.54% per year.
- When can foreign exchange inflow be seen as turning excessive?
- There is no precise yardstick for this. Foreigners bring their capital to
to generate a return on it. If the capital they bring in plays a role in generating additional value and the suppliers of capital claim a share of the additional value generated, that is welcome. But suppose the capital that is brought in does not get utilized for production at all. And suppose this capital further hinders the production already going on, and the suppliers of capital insist on getting a return on their capital. This is a situation of supply of excess capital. India
- When do we say that foreign capital is being used for investment purposes in the country?
- Look at the gap between domestic savings and aggregate investment. At present it is just about 1% of GDP. This amounts to about $10 bn. This represents the absorption of foreign capital by our economy.
- Irritants in Indo-Russian defence deals
Russiahad been a reliable defence supplier to for quite long. But of late, the strongly cemented relationship seems to be going through some rough patches. India Russia, though has not yet reneged on its commitment to supply Indiawith the aircraft carrier – Admiral Gorshkov, it is making things appear that its delivery cannot be taken for granted by . Though planned to be delivered to India by August 2008, it now says that the delivery is possible only around 2010. India
- Secondly, it has also sought a review of the current defence contracts demanding millions of dollars claiming a drop in value of the dollar. It has threatened to foreclose the Su-30 MKI deal after the delivery of the first 100 fighters claiming cost escalation. Under the $8.5 bn deal,
has so far supplied 60 fighters and said it was willing to supply 40 more at the current cost escalation of 2.5%. Moscow
- Bank mergers may become difficult
- While the finance minister wants consolidation to happen in the banking industry, difficulties seem to lie ahead.
- Existing rules stipulate that M&A activity leading to the formation of an entity with assets more than Rs. 1000 crores or turnover of more than Rs. 3000 crores will need the CCI’s nod.
- While the RBI looks into specific operational requirements relevant to the banking sector in a merger and acquisition, the CCI (Competition Commission of India) would look at it from the point of view of protecting a consumer.
- The existing rules don’t exempt the banks from the purview of the CCI. But any small bank’s merger with another is bound to bring about an entity with more than Rs. 1000 crores in assets or a turnover of Rs. 3000 crores or more. So the Department of Economic Affairs is making a strong case for such exclusion. But the ministry of corporate affairs is strongly opposing such a move.
- Do you know how much do our cell companies earn from foreign roamers coming to
- Rs. 3000 crores (Estimated for current year)
- Can you expect commodities also to follow anti-terror norms?
- Yes, says US and the world follows.
- In the wake of 9/11, all imports, especially of food items, were coded by the
customs. Subsequently, the C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) norms were formulated and the US importers of spices were held responsible for checking them out with their suppliers all over the world. Once in a way, the US USimporter was also asked to audit the supplier in, say, by checking out whether the supplier had CCTV to monitor operations. This was to pre-empt the stuffing of containers with harmful substances. India
- Diamond bourse may be in place by this Diwali in
- Bharat Diamond Bourse is expected to start operations at the Bandra-Kurla complex in Mumbai.
- The objective of establishing this bourse (exchange) is to provide infrastructure and other facilities in
for domestic and overseas buyers and sellers of diamonds. India
- Often I used to wonder as to how
Antwerp, the Belgian city became a strong diamond trading hub of the world, when the diamonds were basically mined in Africa. Is it too early to say that we are maturing slowly to challenge the hegemony of established markets? The jury is still out on this.
- Some basic lessons about ‘Letter of Credit’ (LC)
- The Commerce students amongst you know this already. It is for those who are from non-commerce backgrounds.
- An LC is taken by a foreign buyer from his bank and it says that the buyer has the capacity to pay for the goods being imported by him and that in the eventuality that he doesn’t pay, the bank would make good the loss to the exporter.
- The number of LCs Indian suppliers have received has grown just by 5% between 2004 and 2006, while the exports have grown by more than 25%. This shows that the LCs are fast losing their popularity.
- More Indian exporters are dealing with their foreign buyers on ‘open account’ basis. In this the buyer does not furnish any LC and the supplier ends up taking all the risk of buyer not paying up or paying too late.
- How are they able to do it? Enter credit derivatives. When banks come upon Indian suppliers trading with a financially weak buyer, they make the payment to the supplier at a discount – say 6.5 to 7.5% and enter into a credit default swap (an insurance against default on loan) with another bank to transfer the risk. So the supplier gets him money without any delay and the bank makes money on intermediation.
- Had I started explaining to you what a credit derivative is or what a credit default swap is, it would have been more difficult. But today’s article in Money & Banking section explained it so succinctly that I couldn’t desist from giving you an excerpt of it.
- Want to know more details about the Presidential election method?
- Read today’s article in ET that appeared in the 2nd page. I couldn’t locate the direct URL for it. You are on your own there.
- By way help to those of you who are addicted to the Internet the way I am, you can actually see the article online through e-paper option of Economic Times. For this, you should register first, which is of course free. You can find the link to e-paper on the ‘Hot Links’ section on the side left menu bar on the ET website.
- Remember MRCA?
- Multi-role combat aircraft!!
is on the look out for a huge acquisition. It is planning to acquire about 126 of these fighter planes. This possible acquisition is being watched keenly by all the global aviation players. India
- Some aircraft majors and/or aircraft that are keen on snatching up this order from
- Lockheed Martin (US)
- Boeing (US)
- EU consortium’s Eurofighter
- Saab (
) with its Grippen fighter Sweden
- Dassault (France) with its Rafale
with its MIG 35 Russia ’s Defence Procurement policy was given a final shape recently in September, 2006. India USdefence major Raytheon is willing to offer an advanced radar, Aesa for India’s LCA (Light Combat Aircraft), provided the government has no objection. US
- Mining policy owes
has reserves of over 23 bn tonnes of iron ore. It is one of the five largest sources of iron ore globally. India
- The steel industry maintains that the reserves should be preserved for the fast-growing domestic sector. But the mining industry says that domestic demand doesn’t match the production and export is the way out.
- The Hoda committee recommended opening up of the sector for FDI.
- Some mining majors of the world that are eyeing the country for years include:
- BHP Billiton
- First solar city of
- It could be Gandhinagar if the
Gujaratgovernment has its way. The state government has prepared a blueprint to make the state capital a solar city.
- Let’s learn the challenges that our defence forces face in using fuel
- They have to operate in varying temperature conditions. Nearly 1/6th of the Army operates in high altitude areas, where diesel can be used up to freezing point. But beyond that it has to be a different fuel.
- From 0 to minus 17 degrees Celsius, they use up to 80% high grade kerosene and only 20% diesel.
- Beyond minus 17 degrees Celsius, they use 98% high grade kerosene with 2% minerals.
- What is meant by ‘queering the pitch’?
- If someone queers your pitch, they interfere in your affairs and spoil things.
- Some good stats to remember when thinking about the retail licensing that the government is toying with:
- A Crisil study finds that food and grocery items account for 74% of retail sales, and modern retail accounts for 1% of all food items.
- An inefficient supply chain ensures makes farmers receive only 35 to 40% of the retail price. A vastly more efficient supply chain, the core of successful modern retail, can both pay higher prices for farmers and lower costs for the consumers.
- The study estimates that supply chain losses are of the order of Rs. 100,000 crores.
- Dutch disease again
- We noted something about Dutch disease just a couple of days ago. Some more info that appeared in today’s First Principle:
- In the 1960’s
Netherlandsexperienced a vast increase in its wealth following the discovery of large natural gas deposits in the North Sea. Unexpectedly, this ostensibly positive development had serious repercussions on important segments of the country’s economy – as the Dutch guilder became stronger, Dutch non-oil exports became uncompetitive. This syndrome has come to be known as “Dutch disease.”
- Although the disease is associated generally with a natural resource discovery, it can occur from any development that results in a large inflow of foreign currency, including a sharp surge in natural resource prices, foreign assistance, and FDI.
- Am I being vindicated?
- Take a look at what Bloomberg is reporting!!!
- Reporting on WTO talks it says what I have been saying for the last few months in our blogs. The future may be dominated by easier-to-deliver bilateral deals, while the multilateral process focuses on smoothing out other irritants to trade such as differences over intellectual property rights and banking laws. When the
round started in 1994, there were only 80 bilateral free trade acts. Since then, that number has more than doubled. Uruguay
- What I have been saying was that regional FTAs will find favour with most of the countries. It does not mean that they will shy away from the WTO talks altogether. While they will keep making right noises, they will work together with other like minded countries to strike regional and bilateral deals.
- Bloomberg, by the way, is a top five leading global provider of data, news and analytics.
- Big grocery retailers to be under licence raj
- In an attempt to mollify the Left, the government seems to be bent on introducing licensing for the big retailers.
- The objective is to check unfettered growth of grocery retail and to protect small kirana stores by restricting the mushrooming of organized retail outlets in a particular catchment area.
- Speakers may get power of sanction to book MPs/MLAs under the PC Act
- An amendment to section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 is on the cards to enable the Speakers to sanction prosecution of MLAs and MPs.
- This is coming nearly 9 years after a 1998 Supreme Court ruling which held that the MPs and MLAs are ‘public servants’ within the meaning of the Act.
- What is graphalogy?
- It is the science which can ‘read’ the handwriting of a person and know the personality of a person with about 95 to 100% accuracy.
- Graphologists read the pressure, slant and size of letters etc., and then predict the personality traits of a person.
- A recap of outbound FDI from
- 2005: $4.3 bn
- 2006: $15 bn
- 2007: $35 bn (estimated)
- Petro imports and matters related thereto
- Of our 111 mn tonnes imports of crude into the country, most of it is from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.
- Customs duty on crude was halved to 5% in 2005.
- Import duty on Diesel and Petrol was 10% in 2005. In 2006, it was brought down to 7.5%.
- No customs duty on kerosene and LPG since 2005.
- No import duty on naphtha and LSHS (Low Sulphur Heavy Stock). These two are key inputs to the fertilizer industry.
- Should taming inflation be the main agenda for RBI?
- NO; feels Rakesh Mohan, a Deputy Governor of the Bank.
- At present, the monetary policy objective in
is growth, price and financial stability. RBI undertakes various policy measures like rate hikes and other measures with an aim of achieving the said objectives in its policy statements from time to time. India
- He feels that monetary policy should be more explicitly associated with managing inflation expectations rather than current inflation. Indications of inflationary expectations are output growth, capacity utilization, inventory, corporate performance, industrial / investment expectations and other indicators of aggregate demand.
- What is the Vietnamese currency?
- How should government deal with flash strikes? The likes of the recent one by Indian Airlines staff?
- Section 2 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 defines ‘strike’ as a cessation of work by the employees in an industry.
- There are two noteworthy judicial pronouncements by Supreme Court in this regard:
- In 2003 the Court held that employees don’t have any fundamental right to resort to strike. The court further held that there is no statutory provision empowering the employees to go on strike and that there is no moral or equitable justification to go on strike. K. Rangarajan vs. Government of Tamilnadu.
- 1962: Trade unions do not have a guaranteed right to strike. All India Bank Employees’ Association vs. National Industrial Tribunal.
- Where a service is declared to be a public utility service, the government is not obliged to hear the petition of the union representing workmen.
- Andy Roddick (US) became the fourth person to win the Queen’s Club trophy four times. He beat
’s Nicolas Mahut in the finals. France
- Lleyton Hewitt, Boris Becker and John McEnroe were the earlier champions who achieved this feat.
- Today it is Father’s Day
- Father's Day is inaugurated in the early 20th century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and parenting by males, and to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide, and typically involves gift-giving to fathers and family-oriented activities. In
it is celebrated on third Sunday of June every year. India India, in currency swap deal? Japan
- Once the agreement is signed both the countries will be able to swap foreign exchange reserves to counter speculative moves on their currencies.
- What this means is that
Japanwill accept rupees in exchange for dollars and will receive yen in exchange for dollars, as and when the need arises. India
- Such a measure is a safeguard against an onslaught on their currencies. Speculative attacks on their currencies can be thwarted with this kind of an arrangement.
- If the deal is struck, for
it will be a first of its kind. But India Japanalready has such agreements with China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesiaand . Thailand
- What is a Botnet?
- In the Internet parlance, automated crime networks are called botnets. Hackers can create such networks.
- Robert Zoellick
- He is the candidate announced by US for the World Bank Chief’s post.
- What is a commodity balance sheet?
- The one which shows the relationship between price and supply/demand factors in the past and helps predict the future price levels.
- About woman pilots in
- 1932: Urmila Parikh became the first to get a pilot’s licence from the Aero Club of India and
- 1951: Prem Mathur was the first commercial pilot for Deccan Airways.
- 1995: Nivedita Bhasin (26) is the youngest pilot in civil aviation history to command a jet.
- 1999: Gunjan Saxena at 24 is the first to fly in a combat zone during the Kargil war.
- What is Hutchison effect?
- It is a collection of phenomena discovered accidentally by John Hutchison during a study of longitudinal waves of Tesla in 1979.
- These phenomena include:
- Levitation of heavy objects
- Fusion of dissimilar materials such as metal and wood
- Anomalous heating of metals without burning adjacent material
- Spontaneous fracturing of metals
- Changes in the crystalline structure and disappearance of metal samples
- Hutchison and his supporters surmise that these phenomena arise from zero-point energy or the Casimir Effect.
- Biggest desert or earth?
- Antarctic desert. 55,00,000 sq miles.
Saharadesert with 33,20,000 sq miles is the biggest non-polar desert.
- When do you call something a desert?
- When it receives less than 10 inches of precipitation (both snow and rain fall) per year.
- Knighthood for Salman Rushdie
- His noted works:
- “Midnight’s Children” (1981)
- It won the Booker Prize for Fiction, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, an Arts Council Writers’ Award and English-Speaking Union Award. In 1993, it was judged to have been the “Booker of Bookers”, the best novel to have won the Booker Prize for Fiction in the award’s 25 year history.
- “Satanic Verses”
- Can you answer the Open Space queries?
- In today’s Open Space column in Times of India there are two questions that are posed for readers. If you had been following our blogs religiously, you would be in a position to answer them. Are you game for answering them? Take a look:
- What are NSG countries?
- In Pulse Polio Abhiyan, what does Pulse mean?