23.06.2007

  • 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 India are limited to cash-and-carry and franchise or licence operations.
    • 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 India.
    • 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.
  • Pakistan building another nuclear reactor
    • It appears that it is constructing a reactor at Khushab, 170 km southwest of Islamabad.
    • It is possible that Pakistan is looking at improving its nuclear capabilities with a ‘new generation’ of plutonium based weapons.
    • Plutonium-based weapons pack more explosive power into smaller, lighter packages than those made with uranium, which Pakistan has been using for years.
  • 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 US has offered a $23 bn ceiling to its spending, but Brazil and others want it to be $12 bn.
    • 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.
    • Hitachi has developed an interface that analyzes and understands changes in the brain’s blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals.
    • 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 Singapore 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.
    • 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 Bhagalpur communal riot case
    • 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.
    • In India 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.
    • 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?
    • Golf.
    • 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…

2 comments:

Nikhil Pavan Kalyan said...

i just want to confirm whether the FDI in single brand Automatic route is 51% as mentioned..

i remember reading somewhere that it is 100%

ramkyc said...

A quick check confirms to me that it is at 51% in single brand retail.