- Changes to the SEZ land acquisition policy
- The group of ministers (GoM) set up to frame a relief and rehabilitation (R&R) policy for those displaced by the industrial projects including SEZs (Special Economic Zones) has decided to give state governments the power to acquire 30% of the land required in case the developer has acquired the rest of 70%.
- When there was lot of agitation against the state acquisition of land for helping the SEZs being set up, the government announced that land would not be acquired by state governments. Further that no agricultural land would ever be allowed to be acquired.
- The GoM is headed by Agriculture minister Mr. Sharad Pawar.
- The Indo-US nuclear deal and our scientists view
- While the Left is going hammer and tongs against the deal, the country’s scientific establishment has come out strongly in favour of the deal. Take a look this statement given out by them while strongly supporting the nuclear agreement:
- Our weapons programme will continue as it always has been, with our own reactors, reprocessing plants, enrichment plants and heavy water plants. We are not going to be giving the design and technology to any one; why, then are we pointing out that the
will not give these technologies as part of the civilian agreement? US
- For me, this is enough reason to be convinced that it is nothing but pure political stances that are playing the spoil sport. Even the BJP’s efforts at nuancing between ‘strategic partnership with the
’ and ‘strategic subservience to them’ are nothing but a fine play of words being indulged in by them. The deal is a good one that can be secured at this stage. Let us hope that the whole country stands behind it and that progress is allowed to be made. US
- Intellectual property sharing policy in the offing
- Presently, the government provides assistance in the form of non-repayable grants in aid and soft loans for specific research projects undertaken by the industry, universities and other public and private entities. But the institutions lacked the mandate to commercialize their research results. As innovations belonged to the funding agency, there is no incentive for the innovators.
- But now, the government is coming out with a legal framework which allows sharing of the intellectual property generated by these efforts.
- How many rural landless households are there in the country?
- According to the NSSO, it is about 1.5 crores.
- Iron ore exports and their pricing
Indiaalong with Braziland , is one of the largest exporters of iron ore globally. Australia
- Last year the country exported over 90 mn tonnes iron ore; mostly to
- The government has levied a Rs. 300 per tonne export duty on iron ore in March 2007. Later on, the duty was restructured to a dual form – duty of Rs. 50 per tonne on ore fines with iron content of up to 62% and Rs. 300 per tonne for fines with higher iron content.
- In spite of this levy,
India’s ore is still cheaper because, the transportation costs from Braziland Australiawill be higher than those from . Hence, in spite of all the talk of our losing the market share, such a thing did not happen. India
- About priority sector lending by banks
- Private and pubic sector banks are mandated to lend 40% of their total loans to the priority sector. Priority sector includes – agriculture, small enterprises, retail trade, micro credit, education and housing loans.
- Foreign banks have to lend 32% of their total loans to priority sector. For them, this also includes exports.
- There are a number of sub targets within these overall targets. For instance our PSBs (Public Sector Banks) have to lend at least 5% of their net bank credit to women. About 15% of their total priority sector lending should be directed to minorities – i.e., Muslims.
- We have been blogging away for quite some time now. It is in the fitness of things to know a little about it.
- Jorn Barger is credited as the “first blogger” in the world. He started his blog in 1997. It is called robot wisdom.
- Peter Merholz is credited with inventing the word ‘blog’. He shortened the weblog as ’blog. But sometime down the line the apostrophe vanished. That’s how the word ‘blog’ found its way into our vocabulary.
- Week end is nearing and it is time for us to take a look at fun. Look at these news bloopers in our Time Pass blog. Very hilarious.
- Is using forex reserves for funding infrastructure too risky?
- Yes argues an ET editorial of today. But I have a different take on the subject. Take a look at what I noted for us in our Discover It blog.
- Cyberslacking: Wasting time on the internet.
- It is the name of the leaky ship in which the Cuban legends Fidel Castro and Che Guevera have landed in
on December 2, 1956 along with 80 others to launch their successful revolution. Cuba
- Today, Communist Party of Cuba’s mouthpiece has the same name. Castro keeps writing an odd editorial there in that paper.
- An example of our Left’s illogical stance on labour standards
- When it comes to anti-imperialism and improving the labour standards in our country, it is the former that our Left prefers to counter than to fight for improving the lot of the proletariat.
- The developed world’s attempts to impose labour standards on Indian producers are opposed by our Left more vehemently than our own capitalists. Never mind if our proletariat suffers in the process. Never also mind whether or not it will reduce our country’s export competitiveness. Because the measures are proposed by the imperialist West, it is their arm-twisting on labour standards that has to be resisted.
- Can you find arguments more devious than this? I couldn’t.
- Transaction advisers in PPP
- The finance ministry has recently finalized the selection of some transaction advisers in PPP (Public Private Partnership). This move is expected to give a fillip to taking forward the proposed infrastructure projects.
- A transaction adviser will help state governments and other government agencies to structure infrastructure projects to be taken up on a PPP basis. They will also help in attracting the best bidders and ensure that PPP really takes off, especially at state and municipal levels.
- So far, 22 states have set up PPP cells for taking forward the infrastructure projects. But empowering them remains a big issue.
- Only four states viz., Gujarat, AP, Orissa and
Punjabhave so far put in place infrastructure Acts. Film Festival Venice
- The oldest film festival in the world, has turned 75 now. It has opened yesterday. The festival made its debut in 1932.
- The festival's principal awards are the Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion), which is awarded to the best film screened at the festival, and the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup; 'volpi' translates as 'vixens'), which is awarded to the best actor and actress. Recently, a new award has been added, the San Marco Award for the best film in the "controcorrente" (counter-current) section.
- British psychological drama ‘Atonement’, in which Keira Knightley played the lead actress, is expected to win this year’s Golden Lion award. But let’s wait and watch.
- A rare feature of this year’s festival is that all the 22 films which are in competition are world premiers. This feat was achieved only once earlier – last year.
- Raghuram Rajan’s committee on financial sector reform
- Earlier, it was the Narasimhan Committee of 1998 that has gone into the issues of taking the reform process forward. The measures that were initiated following that committee’s recommendations came to be largely recognized as the second generation of reforms.
- The present committee is to submit its report by March 2008. Its mandate includes:
- Indicating the prioritizing and the sequencing of reform measures;
- Suggesting appropriate supervisory and regulatory changes as well as measures to contain risks; and
- Recommending whatever changes are found necessary in the legal and educational systems for enabling the financial sector to perform better.
- ICRISAT’s work
- We all know too well that ICRISAT is located near
and that it is headed by a Director General, Mr. William Dar. Time for us to know a little about what they do. Hyderabad
- On overcoming land degradation in dry land areas, it has three interventions:
- Desert Margins Programme: The premise of this programme is that deserts can be avoided and reversed by enhancing the resilience and biodiversity of the agro-ecosystem; and improving the farmers’ livelihoods through more productive, profitable, and stable land management.
- Fertilizer microdosing: It is the practice of providing the growing crop with the appropriate quantity of fertilizer at the right time. Farmers measure the right amount of fertilizer in caps of soft drink or beer bottles and place them along with the seed.
- Drylands eco-farm: It is a tree-crops-livestock system for rain fed crop production. It involves inter-cropping fast-growing trees with annual crops. Profits from eco-farms are three to five times higher than the current farming systems.
- Want to understand how are bubbles formed when a liquid is heated?
- Take a look at today’s article in The Hindu. Very good.
- It explains concepts such as ‘nucleation’.
- Sports awards presented by our President
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna: Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Shooting)
- Dronacharya awards:
- RD Singh (Athletics)
- Damodran Chandralal (Boxing)
- K. Ashok (Chess)
- Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement
- Varinder Singh (Hockey)
- Shamsher Singh (Kabaddi)
- Rajendra Singh (Wrestling)
- Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award:
- Palden Giachho (Land adventure)
- Motuku Indra Kanth Reddy (Air adventure)
- Tapas Chowdhury (Water adventure)
- Gurdial Singh (Lifetime achievement)
- Arjuna awards:
- Jayanta Talukdar (Archery)
- KM Binu (Athletics)
- Chetan Anand (Badminton)
- Vijender (Boxing)
- Hari Krishna (Chess)
- Anjum Chopra (Cricket)
- Jyoti Sunita (Hockey)
- Navneet Gautam (Kabaddi)
- Saurav Ghoshal (Squash)
- Subhajit Saha (Table Tennis)
- Geeta Rani (Weightlifting)
- Geetika Jakhar (Wrestling)
- Rohit Bhaker (Badminton, disabled category)
wins Nehru Cup in Football India Indiabeat to win the cup. Syria
- The Nehru Cup was launched in 1982 as an annual tournament and since 1989 was held every alternate year until the last edition at
in 1997. The tournament was shelved after 1997 due to lack of sponsorship. However it was revived in 2007 mainly due to persuasion by the current coach of Indian Football team Bob Houghton. Kochi
- The tournament held during 2007 is known as ONGC Nehru Cup.
- Burning Man festival
- It is an eight-day-long annual festival that takes place in
Ari Kaplan Parkand on the American Labor Day holiday in September. The event is described by organizers as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance and takes its name from the ritual of burning a large wooden sculpture of a man on the sixth day. The event is organized by Rec, Nevada, USA , LLC, under the guidance of founder Larry Harvey. In 2006, nearly 40,000 people participated in The Burning Man Project. Black Rock City
- It is in news now because, the wooden sculpture was burnt accidentally before the event started.
- National Commission for Higher Education
- The ministry of HRD has proposed setting up of this body. This would oversee the work of existing regulatory bodies of higher education. There are 13 such bodies involved in regulating higher education. Eg. Medical Council of
, ICAR, AICTE etc. India
- Setting up of the UGC
- The University Education Commission headed by Dr. Radhakrishnan (1948) recommended setting up this body.
- 1956: UGC was ultimately set up by an act of Parliament.
- At present, it is concerned with central universities, academic standards in state universities and granting deemed status to aided as well as unaided educational institutions.
- Indo-China border dispute
Indiasays Chinais illegally occupying about 43,180 sq km of J&K including 5,180 sq km illegally ceded to Beijingby under the Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement in 1963. Islamabad Chinacontends that is possessing some 90,000 sq km of Chinese territory, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh. India
- Junk sleep
- Sleep that is neither the length nor the quality that it should be in order to feed the brain with the rest it needs to perform its normal functions.
- Uranium deposits found in Ladakh
- Uranium and Thorium deposits were found in Udmaru, a small village situated on a volcanic rock formation in Nubra-Shyok valley in northern Ladakh.
- Vijay Kelkar committee on sugar industry problems
- The government has set up this committee to examine in detail all the problems being faced by the sugar industry. It would set out a road map for rapid expansion and growth of the sugar industry and suggest measures for developing a more transparent and open market place. It would also look into developing a more transparent system of sugar buffer stocks that takes care of market volatilities.
- Some language lessons:
- What’s a Damascene conversion?
- I was intrigued by this phrase in today’s ET. Writing about the setting up of a ‘mechanism’ by the Congress to address the Left’s concerns on the Indo-US nuclear deal, it says “It is unlikely that the proposed mechanism will bring about a Damascene conversion…”. When a persecutor becomes a follower, it is called a Damascene conversion. According to Christian lore, Saul of Tarsus was known for brutalizing and persecuting Christians; but got converted into Christianity circa 36 AD while on his campaign to
. Hence the name ‘Damascene’ conversion. Damascus
- Are societies happy when equality increases?
- Not necessarily says SSSA Aiyar. You need to have people like him, to argue seemingly lost cases. It is a given that people will be a lot happier with increased equality. Governments keep proclaiming that they are doing all they can to bring in more equality. Yet we have Mr. Aiyar putting forth a strong argument in today’s centre page article. Look at the following excerpt:
- Many analysts think society is happier when inequalities fall and unhappier when inequalities rise. Really? In an economic recession, profits fall much faster than wages, so equality improves. But do the poor enjoy a recession, with its unemployment and weak wages? Not at all. They far prefer an economic boom, even though profits rise much faster than wages.
- People want more income, not better Gini coefficients. They are concerned with inequality only when they see some powerful people gaining at their expense. They don't grudge Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan their riches. Both these gentlemen are from families of modest means, and have become billionaires through talent. That makes them role models, not hate objects. They are examples of what ordinary Indians seek - a chance to become rich and famous themselves. They do not want a slice of Mao's
China, they want a slice of Deng's . They want the opportunity to rise. China
- What is a factor driven economy?
- It is one whose competitiveness is primarily its low cost labour and exports. One of the unique features of such an economy is that they produce products that are designed and conceptualized in advanced countries.
- Banks and carbon trading
- Banks seem to have found a new business avenue in the carbon credit trading market.
- They facilitate a trade in carbon rights between local corporates and overseas buyers, serve as an escrow account between the two parties involved and even fund local corporates on behalf of the overseas buyer.
- Banks are also seen identifying CDM-enabled green-field projects with the help of consultants and financing it.
- What is a whipsaw situation in stock trading?
- It is market terminology used to explain the situation which occurs in sideways or extremely volatile trading and always results in losses for the traders.
- Lord Lieutenant of
- Mr. Paul Chandrasekaran Sabapathy, a British national of Indian origin is appointed as such. He is the first non-white Lord Lieutenant of
- A Lord Lieutenant is monarch’s representative. His foremost duty is to uphold the dignity of the Crown. He manages all aspects of Royal visits, escorts Roayl Visitors, presents medals and awards on behalf of the Queen, represents the Queen at a variety of events etc.
- Turkish Heads of State
- President: Abdulla Gul (recently elected)
- PM: Tayyip Erdogan
- World’s biggest diamond
- Recently discovered in
it is stated to be about 7000 carats in size. South Africa
- So far, the biggest diamond known is Cullinan diamond. It weighs about half the recent discovery and was found a century ago; also in
. It was found in a place called Cullinan in 1905 and was named after the mining company’s owner. South Africa
- I noted something on the Hyderabad Bomb Blasts in our Discover It blog. Take a look at it here.
- National Commission for SCs and
- Its Chairman is Mr. Buta Singh
- CAS rollout halted
- The rollout of the Conditional Access System, which was made operational throughout Chennai and in select notified zones in
, Mumbai and Kolkata, has been put on hold. Delhi
- The I&B ministry has decided to conduct a detailed technical and consumer account audit across cities before notifying the date for the CAS rollout.
- This means that the earlier plan of rolling out CAS in 19 other major cities in the country from 2008, will not be implemented for now.
- Karnataka’s answer to Palace on Wheels
- We all know that Palace on Wheels is a luxury tourist train that operates in Rajasthan.
- Karnataka has come out with its version – the Golden Chariot. It covers two world heritage sites – Hampi and Pattadakal. It is expected to hit the tracks in November 2007.
- What is account evergreening in loan (or NBFC) parlance?
- What happens in this is, as borrowers miss personal loan EMIs, some of the finance companies extend a fat fee to the collection agent, with the understanding that the agent will return a large part of the amount. When the agent returns the money over a period of time, it is shown as loan EMIs. While for the company the net cash flow is nil – since money that goes out comes back – it’s way out to dress up the account. Even though there is a default, the loan account will be shown as a perfectly regular one.
- What are the benefits? Why should the NBFC indulge in this?
- The company need not provide for the bad loan. When a loan turns bad (i.e., default of 90 days or more), it has to be fully provided; in other words, earnings have to be lowered by the outstanding amount. This immediately impact profitability.
- The income given to the agent is a tax deductibe expenditure.
- The delinquency levels or the volumes of NPAs will appear well below the actuals.
- Efforts made by the government to make business life easier in
- As we took a drubbing in the 2007 World Bank rankings of “Doing Business”, the government has taken the following measures to improve our rankings. The World Bank rankings have kept us at 134th position among 175 nations.
- The government ministries are working on a new system to reduce the time taken for registering a new business and getting all the procedural approvals from the current 302 days to 166 days.
- Subprime lessons for
- Remember the article that we clipped in our 20th August notes on Indian Current Affairs about subprime myths and realities?
- You shouldn’t miss today’s article by Rajrishi Singhal in the centre page. I am not able to find the web link. You are on your own there.
- What are the components of the international licence-permit raj for the nuclear industry?
- The NSG, IAEA, Zangger committee, Australia Group, Wassennar Arragement, MCTR and PSI.
- I will give short notes about each of them shortly in our upcoming Discover It.
- What is fair value accounting?
- Fair value is the price at which an asset or liability could be echanged in a current transaction between knowledgeable, unrelated willing parties.
- The objective is to estimate an exchange price for the asset or liability being measured in the absence of an actual transaction for that asset or liability.
- Fastest woman in the world
- Veronica Campbell. She clocked 11.01 seconds to finish 100 meters dash in the World Athletics Championships going on at
- ICL, BCCI turf war heads for courts
- The Indian Cricket League was formed in April this year by Subhash Chandra along with IL&FS. It has announced the first batch of 51 cricketers recently.
- The BCCI is usually seen as a stodgy outfit with its outmoded and often heavy-handed dealing of all things related to cricket.
- Now the ICL has asked for permission to use cricket stadiums across the country for its tournaments. It has raised a host of other issues in its case before the Delhi High Court.
- Let us see what turn it is going to take. It will be interesting to watch the developments.
- It stands for Specific Absorption Rate – the count which specifies the amount of radio waves (radio frequency energy) absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone.
- Now the government (Telecom Engineering Centre of the DoT) is debating the issue and is likely to make it mandatory for all cell phone manufacturers to make this information available as an option on the cell phones. Further it may prescribe an upper limit of the SAR. Cell phones not complying with this limit will not be allowed to be sold in
- Already US and EU have upper limits at 1.6 watts/kg and 2 w/kg respectively.
- Big Mac
- This sandwich was first introduced in 1967 by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald’s franchise owner in
- It is now celebrating 40 years.
- Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme.
- This is a program under which the Central government offers about 25% of the project cost as grant for taking up projects aimed at reducing distribution and transmission losses. The utilities have to fund the remaining 75% of the project cost on their own.
- Having seen that the grants have always not been transferred by the state governments to the utilities, and also that the performance appraisal needs to be done for a longer period, the Centre has come out with a different model. It would now reimburse 50% of the project cost as grant only when the AT&C (Aggregate Technical and Commercial) losses are reduced to 15% within five years of the completion of the project. Non-performers would not be reimbursed and have to rely on borrowings for the entire requirements of a project.
- Policy relating to the security scrutiny of the FDI proposals
- The government has proposed the National Security Exception Act, an umbrella legislation that would empower the government to subject FDI, both at the entry and post-entry level, to security monitoring and screening. The NSCS, National Security Council Secretariat feels that introducing the curbs in a phased manner, first in the form of guidelines under existing legal framework and then by enactment of an all-encompassing legislation, would insulate the FDI inflows from any knee-jerk movements.
- Chiang Mai Initiative
- This was signed by the ASEAN+3 (
Japan, Chinaand ) in the aftermath of the East-Asian crisis. Under the agreement, any signatory country faced with a liquidity crunch can borrow forex reserves up to a pre-arranged limit to ease selling pressure on its currency. The arrangement has not been tested to date since most Asian countries, like South Korea , also have a huge build-up of forex reserves now. But the true test of such an arrangement lies not only in its ability to provide succour in times of crises but also in its ability to deter speculative attacks. To that extent it must be regarded as fairly successful since barring the crisis in May 2006 when the Thai baht came under attack, South East Asian currencies have been largely stable. India
Indiahas also signed such an agreement with . The quantum is not yet stated to be finalized, though we have noted from ET on 4th August, that Japan is ready to provide about $3 bn for this purpose. Japan
- “Coalition or minority governments” by CP Bhambri
- This article gives us a list of all the coalition governments that
had seen so far. Worth a look. India
- What is the constitutional legitimacy of the minority or coalition governments?
- Articles 74 and 75 provide the real guidelines for parliamentary government in
- Article 74 provides for a ‘council of ministers with the PM at the head to aid and advise the President’, and Article 75 states that ‘the council of ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the PM.’
- Political executive in parliamentary democracy, as provided by the Constitution, consists of President, PM and a council of ministers headed by the PM.
- Japan-China rivalry to the Moon
- Both the countries have slated their Moon missions to occur more or less in competition with each other. While
Japan’s space agency (JAXA) said its lunar satellite, SELENE is on track for a September 13 launch, also is rumoured to be planning for a September launch of its lunar probe, Chang’e 1. China
- The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed in 2005. It came into force from 2006.
- This is in operation in 330 districts all across the country.
- The fundamental principle behind NREGA is a rights-based approach to work, the payment of minimum wages, and equal entitlements for women.
- Recent field surveys at Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh found that the whole scheme is on a good wicket, though there are some minor irritants which need to be removed.
- Some of the weak spots that were identified included:
- Shortage of staff
- Poor worksite facilities, notably lack of water and absence of creches for the children of working women
- Problems with the measurement of work – a revision is needed based on the nature of work, type of soil, and other factors.
- Proper maintenance of job cards
- Positive points noticed included:
- Most families have job cards
- Contractors have disappeared
- Minimum wages are being paid
- Corruption levels have gone down
- Employment is being generated on a massive scale
- Indo-US nuclear deal
- I have been somehow loath to covering it as often as we could have, based on the headline space that it is grabbing. But as I have seen that the posture adopted by the various political parties is more out of political compulsions than out of real problems with the merits of the agreement, I have desisted so far.
- But today’s article by two experts highlights the points of future conflict between the two countries. Take a look at the full article here.
- Especially take a look at the table that is given in the article.
- Big retail facing a backlash in UP
- With agitations picking up momentum against organized retail stores, the UP government said a big NO to stand alone retail stores coming up in the state. However, it said there is no bar for retail stores operating out of big malls.
- UP is the second state to down shutters on organized retail, after Kerala.
- MTNL rings in ISD calls at Rs. 1 per minute
- This is based on IP telephony. Let’s take a look at the details.
- MTNL is the first telco in the country to offer internet telephony where subscribers can enjoy the IP telephony even without possessing a PC.
- How this is made possible runs like this: Subscribe to the broadband connection (for which rentals start as low as Rs. 199 per month). Then buy an analog telephone adaptor (ATA) from MTNL for Rs. 1500/-. The adaptor converts the fixed line phone signal into an IP call.
- Those who have their own PCs can enjoy even a lesser tariff of 10 paise per minute. However, a call made from a PC to a landline or mobile abroad would cost a little over Rs. 1 per minute due to termination charges.
- Was Mumtaz buried at the Taj?
- We have all studied in our history lessons that Shah Jahan built the Taj for his beloved wife Mumtaz Begum. Something more about this.
- She seems to have died delivering their 14th child in Burhanpur in
Maharashtra. The queen’s body was buried there itself but was believed to have been recovered for transportation to Agra where it was reburied in a grave in the Taj Mahal complex for 12 years to be again shifted to her final resting place in the basement of the monument.
be relied as reliable energy trading partner? Iran
- The IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) pipeline is already facing uncertainties due to
’s intransigence on renegotiating an already concluded contract. Iran
- Now comes one more shock from
. IOC’s proposed joint venture with Iranian oil firm Petropars is heading for trouble. This project was for developing an LNG project in Iran through a joint venture. It appears most likely that it will be terminated as the validity of the MoU ends on October 31 and the Iranian side seems to be not moving an inch on the reminders sent by the IOC for taking the project forward. Iran
- Nominee directors can be compensated with Esops
- This issue came to the fore when LIC and GIC nominee directors on the board of L&T received 20,000 shares at Rs. 35/- a share. This is steep discount to the ruling market price of the scrip. It is currently at Rs. 2,396/- per share. The nominee directors refused to transfer the shares to their respective companies. The two companies then approached the Mumbai High Court which granted a stay restraining the nominee directors from selling the shares.
- Now, SEBI has approved changes to the rules governing grant of Esops, which will allow nominee directors to accept allotment of shares as a form of compensation. The norms envisage that allotment of shares to nominee directors would be contingent upon a tri-partite agreement being signed between the entity which nominates the director, the nominee director and the company in whose board the director serves.
- How many officers is Indian Railways having?
- About 14,000. There are 67 DRMs (Divisional Railway Managers) and 24 General Managers.
’s ambassador to US, Mr. Ronen Sen be recalled? India
- What are ARMs and alt-A loans?
- These instruments have been mentioned in the context of the unfolding sub-prime crisis.
- In an ARM – Adjustable Rate Mortgage – for the initial years, the interest rate is fixed at a low level and thereafter linked to a benchmark, often with a premium. For example, the rate can be 2% for the first two years. Then from the 3 year, it becomes a rate which is equivalent to Libor + 300 basis points; which may translate to 8% if Libor is at 5%.
- Alt-A loans are loans made on high value or high loan-to-value borrowers with otherwise good credit quality, or where documentation is non-standard or where properties are situated overseas.
- Oldest diamonds discovered so far
Jack Hillsdiamonds discovered in about 2 years are considered so. They are found encased in Zircon, and are more than 4 bn years old. Australia
- Some important commissions that have gone into the education question in
and submitted their reports are: India
- The Kothari Commission (1964-66)
- The Chattopadhyaya Commission (1983-85)
- Yashpal Committee (
- NPA provisioning in Indian banks
- Even as the world is reeling under the sub-prime vortex, Indian banks have registered a sharp increase, as high as 265%, in the capital they have to set aside for non-performing assets and doubtful debts in financial year 2006-07 over 2005-06.
- Can the sub-prime crisis rock the international financial system? What role can central banks play in this? Take a look at what I wrote in today’s Discover It blog. That is an excerpt from Prof. TT Ram Mohan’s article that appeared in today’s ET.
- Lighting future
- Some figures and stats discussed in ET Think Turf, an event held by ET and Philips jointly.
- There are close to 650 mn sockets (power sockets) in
, which if replaced with CFLs (Compact Flourescent Lights) will result in saving of 55 mn tonnes of CO2 emissions. India
- Even if one CFL replaces one bulb in every household in
, 100 MW of power can be saved. This would be sufficient to light 1,00,000 households. India
- Incandescent bulbs are the most widely used source for domestic lighting due to their simple operation and lower cost. But they are one of the most inefficient sources, converting nearly 90% of the input energy into heat and only 8 to 10% as usable light.
- A typical CFL can convert nearly 30% of the energy into light.
- Almost 19% of world’s electricity is consumed in lighting. If the world were to switch to energy efficient lamps, the results would include 555 mn fewer tonnes of CO2 emissions, more than 1560 mn fewer barrels of oil consumed each year. This is equivalent to switching off 530 one thousand MW plants.
- Titanium mining policy – 100% FDI may be allowed
- The government is thinking of moving the mineral from the restricted category to the general list.
has almost 30% of the world’s titanium resources. With identified reserves of about 400 mn tonnes of Ilmenite ore (which yields titanium dioxide and titanium metals) on the sandy beaches, India is favourably placed to shift from steel to titanium. India
- The country’s 400 mn tonnes of Ilmenite represents only 10% of the total potential in the country.
- Titanium is recognized as a strong metal light in weight, non-corrosive and able to withstand extreme temperature (melting point of 1800 centigrade). It is as strong as steel and twice as strong as aluminium with its strength to weight ratio superior to that of any other metal known till date.
’s cement industry India
- It has an installed capacity of 172 mn tonnes and is working at a capacity utilization of 97%. There is a demand supply mismatch in the country with demand growing at an estimated 10% and production at only 7% in the past four months.
- It is in this context that Pakistani cement has been given BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) certification. This will allow the import of Pakistani cement into
- A novel suggestion for ensuring deeper broadband penetration in
- As lack of a computer is one of the topmost reasons for poor penetration of broadband in
, this should be offered as a service that is charged but maintained and upgraded by the broadband service provider. This will obviate the need for customer investments in a piece of hardware that is open to complications in operations, obsolescence and risk of virus attack. A case in point is network PC, a relatively low-cost PC designed for internet access and specialized business use, but without the full capabilities of today’s personal computer. India
- More options could be monitors or basic computing power PCs connected over the network to centralized higher computing resources run on non-proprietary software to keep costs low. Such a configuration could also reduce the power required at the customer end, a problem that continues to plague all such solutions in
and is not faced in fixed telephone networks as the fixed phone is powered from the local exchange which always has a power backup. For an additional recurring charge, the service provider could also provide secure storage of customer data at his end, thus eliminating the need for hard disks at the customer end. India
- Shibu Soren acquitted in murder case
- The Delhi High Court acquitted the former Union Minister and JMM chief, and four others in the Shashinath Jha murder case.
- What limits insect size?
- Tracheal tubes – which deliver oxygen to insects’ cells – are considered to be holding the key to this question.
- In the late Paleozoic era, with atmospheric oxygen levels reaching record highs, some insects evolved into giants. When oxygen levels returned to lower levels, the insect giants went extinct.
- The basis of this gigantism is thought to lie in the insect respiratory system.
- What is DST and should
adopt one? India
- Daylight Savings Time. Setting the clock in tune with the sky would be natural, convenient and saving on energy consumption.
- Europe and the
shift their clocks by one hour every April and October in order to save daylight and economise on energy. US
- It is estimated that if
also were to adopt DST and shift times in clocks twice every year instead of having different time zones, it could result in tremendous savings in energy consumption. India
- Take a look at this article, if you have stomach for details: http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/aug102007/298.pdf
- Tata group is the largest tax payer in
- It has paid a whopping Rs. 15,130.83 crore in 2006-07.
- Shinjo Abe comes calling
- Japanese Prime Minister arrived on a three day visit.
- Agenda includes civil nuclear cooperation, defence ties and strategic partnership.
- AP toys with community service for jailbirds
- In a novel experiment of its kind in
, the AP Government is about to introduce forced community service in old age homes and hospitals for convicts who are serving a one year jail term or less. India
- This is a move to tackle the overcrowding of the jails. The state’s jails are now having about 12,196 inmates, which is almost double the capacity.
- Fuel retailing policy
- Government policy stipulates that companies engaged in fuel retailing business should have a minimum of 11% of their total outlets in remote and low-service areas.
- Accounting standards
- Most of the countries worldwide are adopting what are called the IFRS – International Financial Reporting Standards. The ICAI –
Instituteof Chartered Accountantof Indiahas also decided to make ’s accounting standards fully in line with the IFRS from 2011. India
- This is expected to enhance Indian entities’ ability raise and attract foreign capital at low cost.
- Why is Europe not that badly affected as the
in the unfolding sub-prime mortgage vortex? US
- European lenders tend not to resell mortgages with the same abandon as Americans. The volume of mortgage backed securities and other vehicles for offloading loans in Europe is about $1.1 trillion, which is just about 10% of the volume in the
- Instead, when they want to raise funds for mortgage lending, European banks often sell so-called ‘covered bonds’, a $2.5 trillion market. These resemble mortgage backed securities, but with the crucial distinction that issuing banks must repay investors even if homeowners default. Keeping risk in-house gives lenders a strong incentive to pay close attention to the quality of borrowers. By contrast, with mortgage backed securities, investors assume the risk.
- “Looking beyond ballot-box democracy” is an excellent centre-page article that appeared in today’s Hindu. For all political science students, it is a must read.
- It explains the process of democratic trap with excellent examples from
Ireland, Palestine, Turkey, Iranand last but not least, . Take a look at this excerpt: India
- Commentators are warning of a creeping “democratic trap” whereby mass-based, and often sectarian, parties are using elections to gain political respectability. Take
where the governing coalition is made up of two extremist parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party. Yet they fancy themselves, and are seen, as democratic parties because they have electoral sanction. Then there is Hamas, a political force with huge popular support as shown by its impressive triumph in last year’s polls. But progressive? Notwithstanding the west’s rank hypocrisy in not recognising its democratic mandate, Hamas’ brand of politics is closer to revolutionary militancy than liberal democracy. Similarly, the reformist mood in Turkey’s governing AKP (Justice and Development Party), which just pulled off a massive election victory, is inspired less by a conversion to a secular and liberal ethos and owes more to political compulsions arising out of its ambition to join the European Union. Northern Ireland has a version of democracy but it remains a theocratic state with severe restrictions on individual freedoms, especially for non-Muslims. Even in Iran where democracy is alive and well, the ballot box has been used by thinly disguised reactionary groups to claim a democratic mandate for their policies. India
- Why can’t lawyers in
advertise their services? India
- Because they are barred by the Bar Council of India Rules. Rule 36 of the BCI rules forbids them to advertise their services.
- The logic behind this embargo is that legal profession is not a trade or business. Further lawyers are treated as officers of the court.
- The Supreme Court is hearing a case and has to decide on the issue.
- Ms. Qurratulain Haider passed away
- She is a renowned Urdu writer and Jnanpith winner.
- “Aag ki Darya” (
Riverof Fire), a historical tale that moves from the 4th century to the modern India and , is considered her magnum opus. Pakistan
- She was awarded the Jnanpith in 1989 for her novel “Aakhir-e-Shab ke Hamsafar” (Travelers Unto the Night).
- GSLV launch slated for September 1, 2007
- It will carry with it INSAT-4CR. This has transponders which will be used for direct-to-home (DTH) television service, video picture transmission and telecasting news events on a real-time basis, using OBVs (Outside Broadcasting Vans).
- US Open commences from August 27.
- One of you asked me to explain about an Overnight Index Swap through our shout-box. I have done so in today’s Discover It blog. Take a look at it here.
- Then in today’s paper I came across an excellent debate on fertilizer subsidy. I excerpted something from it for your record in Discover It. Take a look at it here.
- National Radio Spectrum Management and Monitoring System
- World’s first ghost restaurant
- Our own magician PC Sorcar, is coming out with a theme restaurant at Baruipur, 25 km from Kolkata.
- It will have headless waiters taking orders from you amidst an ambience of a graveyard with ghosts, goblins and ghouls doubling up as chefs and stewards.
- Are you game?
- PN1 dilution not on government’s radar right now
- Press Note 1 bars multinationals from setting up their own companies in a similar line of business without the permission of Indian JV partner.
- Government initially toyed with the idea of diluting PN1 to facilitate an investment friendly policy.
- It has now decided to remove contentious or controversial proposals from the FDI policy to avoid political opposition.
- The current FDI policy is to focus on further opening up of certain select sectors to FDI which are going to meet minimal or no political opposition.
- Urban poor to get subsidized home loans
- The government is working on a plan to offer housing loans to the urban poor at a subsidized rate of 7 to 8% per annum. It may offer the subsidized rate for a loan up to Rs. 1.5 lakh for a 5 to 7 year period.
- 10% bank advances may be earmarked for SME segment
- Though state owned and private banks are mandated to allocate 40% of their net bank credit to the priority sector, there is no sub-target for SME segment; unlike for agriculture, which has a sub-target of 18% of the net bank credit.
- The share of loans to micro and small enterprises has witnessed a significant drop over the last decade.
- National Investment Fund
- It was set up basically to hold the proceeds from the stake sale in PSUs in the capital markets. The proceeds were meant to be used to finance social sector projects in areas such as education, healthcare and employment, and capital investment in select PSUs.
- Set up with lot of fanfare in November 2005, the fund has no corpus till now.
- Indian Vegetable Research Institute
- It is
- RBI ownership in other banks
- If we were thinking that the RBI only had a huge stake in SBI (which was since transferred to the Government of India), we are in for surprise.
- It owns 72.5% of Nabard and 100% in NHB – National Housing Bank.
- Moves are afoot to divest this also the government to steer clear of the conflict of interest that arises as owner and regulator.
- What is a credit blowout?
- It is used to describe the explosive situation in the market when banks go on a lending overdrive creating a huge mass of borrowers. In the
, easy liquidity and low interest rates had resulted in banks pushing borrowers to take larger loans leading to a huge credit blowout. US
- What are commodity debentures?
- These instruments use the prices of a specific commodity or a basket of commodities to fix the returns, as against equity-linked instruments which have returns based on benchmarks like the Nifty index.
- Collective Security Treaty Organization. It is a defence pact among the former
- Its Secretary General is Nikolai Bordyuzha.
- It is commonly called the Warsaw Pact 2.
- Sadbhavana Award
- Was conferred on Hem Dutta, the 63 year old social activist from
Assamfor his continued commitment to the cause of peace and non-violence in . He has been doing pioneering work to promote communal harmony among people living in Assam . Assam
- Pope is against tax havens
- Pope Benedict XVI, the current Pope is known among Church hierarchy as the thinking Pope. He is of the view that tax havens should not be used by the wealthy companies and individuals for avoiding tax payment. The
is pained by the injustice meted out to the poor of the world, as it feels that the money siphoned off by the rich through the use of tax havens, can be used for public welfare activities. Vatican
- A bit about Roman Catholic Church in
- It is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of the Pope and curia in
- Curia is the central administration governing the Roman Catholic Church.
- All the Bishops in
, both Western and Eastern, form the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, which was founded in 1944. India
- There are over 17 mn Catholics in
, which represents about 1.5% of the total population. India
- Myth, reality and subprime crisis
- This is an excellent article from Mythili Bhusnurmath. She argues that each new financial crisis is an opportunity to sift myth from reality. Provided we do that and learn the right lessons, our systems will only emerge stronger from it.
- She lists out seven myths and realities with regard to the current crisis. It is a must read for developing a deeper understanding of the crisis.
- Take a look at it here.
- A little about Murali’s doosra
- Muthia Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan bowler was called for throwing by umpire Darrell Hair during a 1995 Test series in
. An ICC panel subsequently went into the matter and accepted Murali’s view that his bowling with a bent arm was not deliberate and was due to a congenital deformity. Australia
- However, a few years ago, the umpires again questioned the legality of his action while bowling the doosra. Murali was sent to the Biomechanics Laboratory of the
to correct his action. Universityof Western Australia
- About the importance of safety related to shipping
is a cargo consolidation centre. It attracts about 12,000 ships annually to its ports. This makes it an average of 33 ships calling at various ports. India
- With the number of accidents relating to various ships, having crossed 18 so far this monsoon season, urgent action is called for. Some suggestions by an expert from the shipping industry include:
- Indian ports must deny entry to ships if they don’t have adequate insurance cover for wreck removal and oil pollution risk.
- We need to sign a harmonized system of port state control (PSC) with neighbouring countries to weed out all the ‘junk’ ships from the seas around the country. This is important as most of the vessels involved in recent accidents are over 25 years old and are from the so called FoC countries. These are the Flag of Convenience countries, which offer their flag to any vessel for a relatively small fee, but exercise no control over them.
boasts of about 750 ships on its registers with about 8.4 mn gross tonnage. India
- The country that offers free sex change operations in the world?
. It has been so ordained by an internal court ruling in the matter. Brazil
- Gubernatorial appointments
- AP: N.D. Tiwari
- Karnataka: Rameshwar Thakur
- Orissa: Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare
- Rajasthan: Shilendra Kumar Singh
- Uttarkhand: B.L. Joshi
: Sudarshan Agarwal Sikkim
- World Photography Day
- It is celebrated on August 19th. This is commemoration of the announcement of a photograph on August 19th, 1839.
- Indian Air Force pilots create a record
- They successfully flew around the world in 80 days in a microlight aircraft.
- Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar achieved this feat. They achieved a speed of 21.092 kmph bettering the record of 16.53 kmph set by Colin Bodil of the
in 2001. UK
- The aim was to circumnavigate the earth (minimum distance of 36,889 km) in the shortest period of time.
- World Badminton Championships
Chinawon the Mens and Womens titles, in the championships held at . Kuala Lumpur
- Men: Lin Dan
- Women: Zhu Lin
- A thought-provoking editorial appeared in ET yesterday. I was compelled to write a counter argument about the subject. It is about reserving certain items for procurement from the SSI sector. Take a look at it here.
- The government ‘nuked’ on the Indo-US nuclear deal
- The Left has served a stern message that its support to the UPA government cannot be taken for granted if the Indo-US nuclear deal is pressed ahead with.
- These are tough times for the government led by the Congress party.
- Though it is unlikely that the Left will pull the rug from under the feet of the UPA government; nothing can be successfully prognosticated in politics. Let’s wait and watch the developments.
- Online realty sales
- The Government of Rajasthan has begun the process of ‘dematting’ the property title deeds in a bid to make the real estate sales far more transparent.
- It is being done with the help of an NGO or urban governance – Janaagraha.
- Once dematerialized, all property deeds will reflect the authenticity of the land titles, payment of property tax and dues to banks etc.
- North-East set for mega power drive
- Arunachal Pradesh may produce 25,000 MW of hydel power in the next 7 to 8 years. Of this around 65% generation may come from private sector alone.
- The policy envisaged provides that the private developers will have to give 12% of the generated power free to the state government. In addition they will have to pay a cess of 1 pase per unit of power produced.
- Death threats to Taslima Nasrin
- Majidullah Khan Farhad of
based Majlis Bachao Tehriq (MBT) accused Taslima of ‘defaming’ Islam and announced ‘unlimited financial reward’ to anybody who would kill her. Hyderabad
- I am left to wonder, what is the government doing about such publicly aired threats?
- Taslima has moved from
after her book ‘Lazza’ invoked the ire of fundamentalists there. She moved to Bangladesh Swedenthen and has been living there till 2002, when she moved to . India
- Though she has not been granted any citizenship or permanent residence, her visa has been extended from time to time.
- What are most common characteristics of innovators?
- The Business Week magazine has come out with a directory of the top Champions on Innovation. Let’s take a look at some of the common characteristics identified in them:
- They speak the language of design and user-friendliness.
- They derive their clout directly from the top and are the CEO’s consiglieri on creativity.
- They are mostly women.
- What is Nisar trophy about?
- It is a match between
India’s Ranji Trophy winners and ’s Quaid Trophy winners. Pakistan Pakistanand , who in 2004 resumed their high-profile bilateral cricket rivalry after a four-year hiatus amid political tensions, had agreed to stage an annual match between the winners of their respective domestic tournaments. India
- The match is played in memory of late Mohammad Nisar who played six Tests for
Indiain the 1930’s before migrating to in 1950’s. He died in Pakistan in 1963. Lahore
- Excerpts from Open Space of Sunday Times
- Why are athletic events held in anti-clock wise direction?
- Earth rotates in anti-clockwise direction. Hence, it is much easier to go around a circle in anti-clockwise direction.
- Can you name all the Himalayan ranges?
- Pir Panjal range (It is home to
- Dhaula Dhar range
- Zanskar range
- Ladakh range
East Korakoramrange moves to prevent airwave interference India
- The Communications ministry has launched efforts to coordinate with other nations over satellites and terrestrial networks.
- This is significant because interference between different satellite networks can cause havoc with weather predictions and impact both broadcasting and telecommunications systems in the country.
- There is a body called the Radio Communication Bureau, which is part of the ITU – International Telecommunications Union. It plays a vital role in the management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. It keeps sending weekly circulars to all countries about spectrum allocations. Now,
is laying special emphasis on observing all the allocations through these circulars and is taking up with the ITU and also the respective countries which are having networks that interfere with its networks and communications systems. India
- EMR waves from iPods can swing tempers
- Scientists say that EMR – electro magnetic radiation, can have deleterious effects on the health, due to excessive use of electronic devices like the iPods. Each type of human tissue has certain power to absorb frequency level and if that level exceeds, it does affect human health to a great extent. EMR aids in changing energy circulation and behaviour of blood cells in the human body.
- EMR typically includes – radio waves, microwaves, terahertz radiation, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.
may have a car that runs on compressed air by 2008 India
- Tatas are going to release their car which runs on compressed air as fuel. This is different from their pet project, the Rs. 1 lakh car.
- The cost of fuel refill will be about Rs. 90 and each refill is expected to deliver a distance of 150 to 200 km. They can deliver a maximum speed of up to 220 km per hour. These cars will be in the same price bank as the present Indica range i.e., about Rs. 3.5 lakh.
- They are expected to be totally pollution free.
- ECB curbs likely to hit lending to SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises)
- This is expected to happen due to the possibility that bigger corporates will take longer time repay the loans taken by them from the domestic banks, in view of the curbs imposed on their ECB (External Commercial Borrowings) plans.
- Entities having investment in plant and machinery up to Rs. 10 crores are classified as SMEs by the public sector banks in accordance with the guidelines issued by the ministry of small scale industries.
- Nayak Committee guidelines prescribe that working capital needs of the SMEs have to be decided as 20% of the projected turnover based on the assumption of a three month operating cycle.
- Bio-dynamic coffee
- This is about adopting agricultural practices like:
- Planting seeds at a particular phase of the moon
- Identifying the pest cycle and pre-empting it by applying sprays made from naturally occurring matter like marigold.
- Paying equal wages for equal work – women and men are paid the same wages
- There are reportedly only two certified projects that produce bio-dynamic coffee in the world. One of them is in
at Poabs Organic group’s 350 acre Thuthampara Estate in Palakkad district of Kerala. India
- R. Radhakrishna committee’s study on rural indebtedness
- It has identified two dimensions to this problem:
- An agricultural crisis because of low growth and declining productivity; and
- An agrarian crisis characterized by the rural population’s high dependence on farm income.
- Can you identify a couple of factors that contribute to the reinforcement of the caste system in
- By encouraging the formation of democratic participation along the lines of identity, caste is reinforced every time
goes to the polls. India
- While Indian Constitution has outlawed untouchability and caste discrimination, it did not abolish caste itself.
- Expert-speak on the unfolding of the current world wide financial crisis
- Portraying the current problem arising out of the
sub-prime mortgage crisis, as a liquidity crisis is incorrect. There is a difference between crises of liquidity and crises of insolvency. Liquidity crises are those in which firms and individuals have a cashflow problem; interest rate cuts help them through the tough times. Insolvency crises are much more serious; slashing rates makes no difference when people are going bust. The LTCM collapse (during East Asian Crisis) was a liquidity crisis; but what is happening now is an insolvency crisis. US
- Hundreds of thousands of households are insolvent, mortgage lenders are going belly-up, construction firms are going out of business, hedge funds that traded complex securities backed by sub-prime loans are going bankrupt.
- What could be the conclusion? This has the potential to be very serious indeed.