- Is the Indian consumer happy with the services he is getting?
- Yes, says a study commissioned by ET. It is a good read. Study it here. But be warned, not all of you may like it. Those with management backgrounds will find it quite useful.
- High fliers likely to get own airport
- Private jet owners in
will soon be able to boast of their own airport and runways. Taking into consideration the recent increase in the number of private jet owners in the country, the government has decided to promote this new segment. This segment is what is called ‘general aviation.’ India
- It is wireless electricity. We noted about it earlier also. Take a look here.
- The power source is kept at a distance of 2 meters from the bulb in this experiment.
- The word ‘witricity’ was coined back in 2005.
- Witricity exploits the coupling between electromagnetic resonant objects to transfer energy wirelessly between them.
’s Opium trade India
- This is about the legal export trade. It is in red and the annual loss is kept at Rs. 20 crores. But why does
trade in Opium in the first place? Opium is the source for making alkaloids such as codeine phosphate, codeine sulphate, narcotine and morphine sulphate, which are needed for various life saving drugs. India
- The finance ministry issues licenses to farmers to cultivate opium and also reserves the right to de-license if they can’t produce a pre-determined amount. At present there are about 65,000 opium cultivators in the country.
- The government exports about 500 tonnes of opium every year to US,
Japanand . MP and Rajasthan are the major producers of opium in the country. The losses incurred by the Centre on account of this trade are attributed to the huge purchase tax imposed by the two states. The tax rate is 46% and 50% respectively. UK
- When did oxygen appear on Earth?
- Recent research suggests that Oxygen would have appeared on Earth for the first time about 50 to 100 mn years before the Great Oxidation Event. The latter is believed to have occurred about 2.3 to 2.4 bn years ago. Today oxygen makes up about 21% of the atmosphere. Before the Great Oxidation Event occurred it was methane and ammonia which composed the atmosphere on the Earth.
- Telecom scramble gets shriller
- There were over 200 applications for UASL in just 2 days!!
- What is UASL by the way? Universal Access Service Licence.
- This licence allows the operator offer not just telecom services, but also all other communication services. A couple of terms deserve our attention in this regard.
- Universal Service means that everyone in an area has a telephone in their house (or the right to one if they can afford one). This is usually measured by ‘household penetration’ (how many households have a telephone). A figure of 90% of households with a phone is normally considered to mean that full universal service has been achieved. The universal service percentage for an area is taken to be the percentage of households with a telephone service.
- Universal Access, by contrast, means that everyone can use a telephone (such as a payphone). What ‘accessible’ means is open to debate, one example is saying that there must be a working affordable 24-hour public phone within 5 kilometres.
- An MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) is merely a marketing and branding outfit that owns neither a network infrastructure nor spectrum, but offers telecom services by reselling airtime bought from an existing mobile service provider that owns equipment, licence rights for these services.
- Minus-one placement
- We all know about campus placements in MBA and Engineering colleges; right? Some terminology about it. Slot Zero and Minus-One.
- Slot Zero placement is the most prestigious. Here top MNCs offering best packages are invited as part of the placement process.
- Minus-One placement is offering jobs to the summer interns working for companies.
- The Alcan Prize
- It is instituted by Alcan, a leading global materials company and IBLF (International Business Leaders Forum) for promoting and implementing sustainable development.
trying to have a single aviation pact with EU India
- At present there are multiple bilateral agreements with all the EU member countries.
- An Open skies agreement will provide designated airlines with unlimited access to any point of call in the territory of all EU member countries. It removes all restrictions and provides for greater operational flexibility.
- Geographical Indication and WTO
- It is an indication that identifies a good as originating from a particular place and its reputation gets associated with the place. Once a country recognizes a particular product as a GI, its name cannot be used by the producers of the same product at a different place. While GIs are accorded protection within a country, it is difficult to get similar protection in other countries. This could be achieved through bilateral agreements.
- The WTO extended GI protection to just two products – wines and spirits.
is trying its best to get GI status for a number of products – Kanjeevaram sarees, chikankari and kantha work, and bidri pottery etc. India
- Mary Antoinette’s pearls up for auction
- The pearls were taken to
Britainby a friend (Lady Sutherland, the British ambassador’s wife) for safekeeping, before Mary Antoinette fled in 1792. France
- They are expected to fetch about $8 lakh.
- Administrator of NASA
- Michael Griffin
- Indira Gandhi Award announced
- The 22nd award for National Integration has been awarded jointly for promoting communal harmony to:
- J.S. Bandukwala
- Ram Puniyani
- ISRO to develop satellite navigation by 2012
- Satellite navigation systems use radio time signals transmitted by satellites to enable mobile receivers on the ground to determine their exact location. The relatively clear line of sight between the satellites and receivers on the ground, combined with ever-improving electronics, allows satellite navigation systems to measure location to accuracies on the order of a few metres in real time.
- ISRO proposes to come out with a seven satellite system. The data obtained through this system can also be used for various applications such as agriculture, civil aviation and fisheries.
- At present the global positioning system (GPS) is controlled by the
defence department. GPS is a satellite navigation system using satellite constellation of at least 24 satellites. US is coming out with its Glonass system by 2009 with 24 satellites. Russia Europealso is building Galileo with about 30 satellites. It will be in operation by 2012-13.
- Difference between skill and talent?
- Skill is about doing something competently – writing good software for example. Talent is about potential to do something competently.
Indiahave a say in its neighbourhood – ? Myanmar
- It becomes important in the context of the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations by the Buddhist monks.
Chinaand India(in that order) could have some influence over . But ASEAN has thrown up its hands and is unable to persuade its member state even to open a political dialogue with the Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar China, being a totalitarian state, is not in a position (or in need of) to take up the cause for democracy in . Myanmar Indiaalso though for its own reasons – it has relied heavily on the military regime to fight insurgency in the north-east – also is not able to exert any influence on the military junta and stands reduced to paying some lip service for the cause of democracy in . Myanmar Indiaalso is perhaps stung by Myanmar’s gravitation towards in the light of its support for democracy during 1988-1992. But can China , play any meaningful role now? It is highly debatable. India
- Some background about democracy demonstration in
: This is not the first time that is happening. Back in 1988 when there were such demonstrations, the military junta had put them down with a heavy hand. Then the NLD (National League for Democracy) led by Augn San Suu Kyi won the polls. The military junta then annulled the election exercise and kept her under house arrest. Myanmar
- Terminology: snam
- It is spam on social networking sites like Orkut, MySpace etc.
- Flag code leads to warrant against Aamir Khan
- At a function attended by this Bollywood actor, the tricolour remained hoisted even after sunset. Moreover, when that was pointed out, it was hurriedly pulled down, without properly and respectfully bringing it down. Thereafter, it lay there on the floor. All these constitute a violation of the flag code.
- October 2 to be World Non-violence day
- The UN General Assembly will declare so on October 2, 2007. It had adopted an Indian resolution to this effect, as a tribute to the Satyagraha movement launched by the Father of the Nation.
- Para IV filings
- This is an application (made by any pharma company in the
) to make a generic version of an approved drug when a generic drug maker believes it is not infringing on the patent or that the patent is not valid. A successful challenge wins the first company which made the para IV filing the right to exclusively market the generic version of the drug for 180 days during the patent period. US
- Doing business with
- It has become easier, says the World Bank.
moved up 12 notches to 120 in the index of 178 nations in the World Bank’s 2008 edition of “Doing Business”. India Hyderabadis the easiest to conduct business, followed by and Jaipur. Bangalore
- It takes 18 days to meet all administrative requirements to export, down from 27.
- Closing business in
is woefully slow, taking 6 to 10 years as against OECD average of less than two years. India
- Theory of decoupling
- It is an economic theory of the current times. It says that countries like
Chinaand Indiaare now less dependent on growth. US
- Pension reform and financial inclusion
- In a very good article TK Arun argues that financial inclusion does not merely mean giving access to bank accounts. It is about giving a wider choice to the people to authorize investments of their hard earned savings in a variety of instruments.
- Capital Account Convertibility
- It is allowing anyone to convert rupee assets into any foreign currency assets and vice-versa without any limits.
- Indrajatra of
- It is a very important religious festival of
- It sees a Kumari – a young girl worshipped as living goddess – emerging out of her palace and being driven around in her chariot. The Kumari is regarded as the protective deity of the royal family. An earlier King from a different dynasty Jayprakash Malla, is believed to have lost his kingdom after he displeased an incarnation of Kumari. Originally a festival of the Malla dynasty, it was however retained by king Gyanendra’s ancestor, Prithvi Narayan Shah, who founded the current dynasty over two centuries ago.
- Khalistan movement
- Let’s recap a bit about this militant movement of
Punjabwhich fought for a separate nation – “Khalistan” for the Sikhs.
- Lasted from 1981 to 1993. Claimed the lives of 21,043 people in all including civilians, terrorists and security forces.
- Cold fusion
- There are two methods in which nuclear energy can be produced. One is the nuclear fission. The other is nuclear fusion. The latter one is usually the thermo nuclear fusion that is widely known. But there is a third method called cold fusion.
- When deuterium atoms are inserted inside a metal such as palladium, titanium, nickel, etc., in sufficiently large numbers and if the right Nuclear Active Environment is created, a variety of nuclear reactions are found to occur involving not only the deuterium nuclei but also the host metal atoms. In this process, excess energy is often found to be produced and in some cases nuclear particles such as neutrons, X-rays or even charged particles are released. This is called cold fusion.
- Mutual fund scheme varieties
- These funds cannot issue new units except in case of bonus or rights issue. The market price at the bourse could vary from the NAV on account of demand-supply situation and other market factors.
- They usually don’t have a fixed maturity period and are available for subscription and redemption on an ongoing basis. New investors can join by directly applying to the mutual fund at NAV related prices.
- Infrastructure funding shortages
- The planning commission has estimated that about $492 bn would be needed to fund the infrastructure requirements in the Eleventh Plan (2007-2012). 70% of this is expected to come from public sector while the remaining 30% from the private sector.
- Of the $492 bn, about $240 bn is expected in the form of debt. But the Commission has identified that about $201 bn only would be available leaving a gap of about $39 bn.
- When did the Twenty20 format of cricket get introduced?
- It was in 2003 in
county circuit. England
- But now it has become very popular and it is quite likely that it will overshadow the One Day International format at some point of time in the future. But let’s wait and watch.
- World’s energy sources
- Oil accounts for about 40% of the world’s energy source.
- Will the fed rate cut avert a recession?
- SSA Aiyar argues that it can’t. A rate cut can’t fix the real economy he says. Even if a recession is averted it would be for reasons other than the Fed’s monetary policy. While explaining his stand, he notes what Milton Friedman would have felt about the rate cut.
- Injection of money into the economy would raise nominal GDP (which is real output plus inflation). In the first few months, most of the increase might be in real output, but prices would soon catch up, and then the entire increase in nominal GDP would be on account of inflation. Real GDP would not be affected at all. It would be determined in the long run not by money but other factors such as innovation, productivity, entrepreneurship and investment.
- For a comparison of the views of Keynes and Milton Friedman, refer to this article in our Discover It blog.
- Why should the
be concerned about falling long term interest rates at this juncture? US
- Before we try to understand the why of it, we need to know the ‘what’ of it. As many countries are shying away from investing their forex reserves in the
treasury bills / bonds (which are long term), the long term interest rates are falling. Instead, countries are investing in the short term treasury bills as they are adopting a wait and watch attitude on the economic fallout of the subprime crisis. A fall in the long term interest rates implies that majority of the investing countries in the US USare worried about the long-term outlook of the economy. This doesn’t augur well for the US . US
- A rise in short term rates and simultaneous fall in long term rates implies that the economy is teetering on the recession mode.
- Types of diabetes
- There are two types of diabetes:
’s Oscar entry India
- ‘Eklavya’, an Amitabh Bachchan starrer is shortlisted as an entry into this year’s Oscars in foreign film category. It still has to go through another round of screening before it becomes a nominee film.
- Magna Carta
- It is considered the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law. It was signed by King John of
in 1215. England
- It is reported that only around 17 original versions of the charter still exist.
- A copy of it which was purchased by the Texan billionaire Ross Perot (at one time an American Presidential aspirant) for $1.5 mn in 1984 is up for auction now. It is expected to fetch about $20 mn to $30 mn.
- Martian rovers
- The two rovers that are currently operating on Mars are
Opportunityand Spirit. , a space probe for Mars was launched in August 2007. It is expected to land on Mars in May 2008. Phoenix
- 58th International Astronautical Congress
- Is being held in
. About 2000 delegates from all over the world are participating in it. Hyderabad
- Its theme is: Touching Humanity: Space for Improving Quality of Life.
- Chairperson is Shanta Sinha
- Some resistance movements worth noting:
- Otpor (meaning “resistance”) of
. Originated in 1998 against President Slobodan Milosevic. On October 5, 2000 they forced the President to admit defeat in the elections. Serbia
- Kmara (meaning “enough”) of
. This was against their President Eduard Shevardnadze. In November 2003, they virtually overthrew the President. Georgia
- Pora (meaning “it is time”) of
. It is also called the “Orange Revolution.” It got Yushchenko declared as President. Ukraine
- Maria Kirilenko wins the Sunfeast Open in Kolkata by defeating Mariya Koryttseva.
’s law Moore
- The prediction that the complexity of computing devices like processor chips would double every 12 to 18 months, given out by Gordon Moore, Intel’s co-founder. It was first formulated in an article he wrote in 1965.
- BPCL-Premium Oil team strikes largest onshore gas find
- This consortium has reported discovery of gas at Cachar in
. The discovery is believed to be – 8 to 18 TCF. Assam Assamalready contributes about 12% of ’s crude oil production of about 665,000 barrels per day. India
- Methods of assessing radio listenership
- Diary method: It is about distributing a diary to the potential listeners and asking them to record the details of the radio programmes they listened to over a period of time.
- DAR method: Day-after-recall method. It asks the listeners to recall what they have listened to yesterday.
- Our Finance Minister in the race to become Chairman of a key IMF governing body called the IMFC – International Monetary and Financial Committee.
- It is a key committee of the IMF. It monitors the transfer of resources to developing nations. It was established in 1999 by a resolution of the IMF’s board of governors, to replace the interim committee of the board of governors on the international monetary system.
- Dividend stripping
- It is the practice of buying shares of a company or units of a mutual fund just before the record date for declaring dividend, receiving the dividend and then selling the security/unit after the record date.
- This was usually resorted to by companies to record short-term loss in their books. Because the price of the share/unit after the payment of dividend is usually lower than the price at which it would have been bought. They can then set off this loss against the profits made by them elsewhere.
- Some forceful arguments against drug price control
- The cost of medicines in healthcare is only about 15% of the total cost of the healthcare. So focusing on this exclusively is only ignoring the other major issues – like fees relating to treatment centres, consultation and diagnostics.
- The cost of introducing a successful drug includes the costs of several failures that would have preceded it.
- Continued R&D costs should not be ignored.
- Rahul Gandhi is now General Secretary of the Congress Party
- Is it election time? Looks like one.
- Pune Pact
- It was the 1932 agreement between BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on providing political reservations for Dalits.
- International Astronautical Federation
- Its President is James Zimmerman.
farmers face a fresh crisis UK
- A totally new virus has struck its cows. It is the first case of bluetongue disease.
- This disease does not affect humans. It affects ruminants – sheep, cattle, deer and goats. It can cause high mortality rates and reduce milk yield in cattle.
- Blame the Twenty20 cricket for this delayed posting. Got somehow glued to the TV set watching the final. What a thrilling finish!! Don’t remember having such thrill in recent times. Congrats to Dhoni and his team.
- About Cricket and betting
- See, what a change does one critical win bring for
!! Today’s big bang match between India Indiaand is inviting lot of betting. The betting volume is expected to be of the order of Rs. 1200 to 1500 crores!! Pakistan
- So what are the odds?
India1:1.55 and 1:1.8. So what does this mean? If you bet a rupee that Pakistan Indiawins, you gain Rs. 1.55 if wins. Of course you lose your one rupee, if India loses. Such betting also implies that more people are betting that India will win. Hence the less money you get on your bet. India
- Yasuo Fukuda is the next Japanese PM
- The ruling LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) has chosen him as the Prime Minister.
- If you are a person aspiring to be an MBA from a foreign university, then you must read this article that appeared in today’s ET:
- Hallmarking of gold to be made mandatory?
- The government is firming up plans to make hallmarking of gold compulsory from next year.
- Hallmark is an indication of the metal content and a guarantee of purity or quality.
- Besides purity hallmark, all jewellery sold in the country should have four other marks –
- the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) logo
- the jeweller’s identification code
- year of making and
- common control mark testifying to fineness
- Interest rate regime on ECBs
- The RBI fixes the maximum interest rate that companies can pay on ECBs being raised by them. In May this year, it has brought this ceiling down from 200 basis points above LIBOR to 150 basis points above LIBOR. This is for loans with 3 to 5 year maturity.
- For debt with a maturity exceeding 5 years, the ceiling was lowered from 350 basis points above LIBOR to 250 basis points above LIBOR.
- Vehicular traffic statistics
about 40% of the time taken by a goods vehicle to reach its destination is spent at various check-posts. India
- The average distance travelled by such a vehicle in
is at 300 km, while in most of the developed countries, it is between 1000 km and 1200 km. India
- Case for revamping the IIP basket
- Many of the goods in the Index of Industrial Production basket are not relevant any more. They impart a downward bias to production numbers. Items like tape recorders and typewriters don’t deserve any weightage that they are having right now in the index. Many new products like microwaves, vacuum cleaners and TFT computer screens have to find a place.
beach in Chennai Marina
- We all know about it; or at least have heard about it. But what exactly is a marina?
- It is a station prepared with every kind of facility for a sailing holiday.
- A marina is a small to medium-sized harbor used by mostly private, recreational yachts.
normally have pontoons (a floating structure that serves as a dock or to support a bridge) and finger pontoons allowing access to all the craft berthed there. They often have re-fuelling, washing and repair facilities at hand. Marinas
- The third wave approach of creating value in an increasingly globalized world
- While looking at globalization, industries in emerging economies are typically perceived as going through three waves of evolution.
- In the first wave, companies typically act as component supplier to developed countries that manufacture a complete product.
- In the second wave, the local industry gains enough expertise to provide contract manufacturing services – of either the entire product or major sub-assemblies.
- The third wave is when a set of firms start marketing these products under their own brand – initially in their own countries and then abroad.
mulls fourth space launch centre China
- The proposed site is close to the equator which makes it well suited for launches because lower latitudes have stronger centrifugal forces, reducing the amount of energy required to launch rockets.
- Marcel Marceau dies
- The mime legend, aged 84, is no more.
- He is largely credited with reviving mime.
- Mime is the art of communicating entirely by gesture and facial expression.
- Tamang is Indian Idol
- Prashant Tamang, a
West Bengalconstable is the new Indian Idol. Remember the American Idol Kelly Clarkson? And her memorable single “Walk Away”? Let’s hope Tamang also will have such an excellent career in singing.
- The issues raised by the recent Delhi High Court ruling holding the Mid Day journalists guilty of contempt of court for making gross judicial misconduct against the former Chief Justice of India, YK Sabharwal:
- It draws pointed attention to the absence of an effective and credible institutional mechanism to deal with allegations of misconduct made against higher judiciary.
- Represents an improper use of contempt power to bar any attempt to raise the issue of judicial misconduct.
- Underlines the danger to freedom of expression that the judiciary’s virtually untrammeled contempt jurisdiction poses.
- RIL finds oil (in deepwater drilling) in
- In yet another significant discovery, RIL (Reliance Industries Limited) has found oil at 565 meters depth. Oil is flowing at 596 barrels per day. It has christened this well as Dhirubhai-36.
- It has targeted to drill upto 3595 meters.
- By the way just take a look the different types of deepwater drilling that can be taken up:
- DMIC goes private
- The biggest ever infrastructure initiative taken up by
will be managed by a private company. The Cabinet has said that DMIC Development Corporation will be a private company, where the government will hold only 49% equity, allowing private infrastructure companies to participate in 51% equity of the company. India
- But there will be a DMIC steering authority chaired by the Finance Minister to oversee all policy matters regarding the corridor.
- Some very good commentary on the fed rate cut by Mythili Bhusnurmath in today’s ET:
- The only justification for the rate cut is that, in its view, the real economy is sufficiently endangered as to warrant action that might have adverse consequences, in the long term.
- Though the stock markets all over the world have reacted jubilantly, to this, the reality is that stock market reactions are not the best judge. Long term problems of the
economy – huge current account imbalance and negative household savings – do need to be addressed and there is little likelihood the Fed’s actions will do that. The fall in the US dollar and long-dated Treasury bills is a warning signal. US
- A policy approach that views recession as a bigger danger than inflation may soon seem hopelessly myopic. By the time we realize it, it might be too late.
- Corporate Affairs Institute to be set up
- The union ministry of corporate affairs is planning to set up an Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs for capacity-building and service delivery for the corporate sector.
- Some political development worth noting
- In Karnataka, the JD-S and BJP combine had come to power in February 2006 agreeing to hold the chief minister’s post for 20 months each. HD Kumaraswamy of the JD-S completes his 20 month term on October 2, 2007.
- Deputy Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa of the BJP is anxiously waiting for his turn to become the CM.
- But the big question that hangs on everybody’s mind is -- will Kumaraswamy relinquish the post on the appointed date?
- Duty-free shops and
- With the aviation sector booming,
Indiais set to emerge as a transit hub for passengers from South Asia.
- Global duty-free and travel retail industry is forecast to reach $45 bn by 2012.
- Indians spend $1185 on shopping whilst traveling overseas, and $440 at duty free shops. A major chunk of this spend can be retained in
if more duty-free shops are allowed and encouraged to be set up. India
- Some extreme sports
- Remember the extreme sport that we learnt sometime ago about? Yeah, I am referring to Parkour. Today let’s know a bit about a couple of other such extreme sports.
- Buzkashi, the Afghani national sport. It is about carrying a dead calf. A pit is dug and the dead calf is placed in it. A circle called, the ‘circle of justice’ is drawn. The horsemen have to grab it and gallop away to the goal post before throwing it back in the pit.
- Extreme ironing. This is about ironing your laundry everywhere and anywhere – at mountain tops, in-between ridges, even while canoeing, snowboarding or skydiving. It started in the city of
Leicesterin . A guy named Phil Shaw is credited with inventing the sport. UK
- Urban exploration. Commonly referred to as infiltration, it is about venturing into abandoned structures, active buildings, catacombs, sewers, storm drains, and transit and utility tunnels. Explorers in this game are called cataphiles.
- Finally the Indian team has done something which made a skeptic and bored watcher of the game of cricket like me also to sit up and take notice. It was a brilliant display of batting in the semi-finals with
yesterday night. I am glad that they won. I will be equally excited to watch the finals with Australia on Monday. Let’s cheer them up!!! I think this 20-20 version of the game is more interesting. Pakistan
- World Athletics at
- Men’s 100 meters dash: Asafa Powell won it clocking 9.83 seconds.
- Tatyana Lebedeva claimed the long jump title with a leap of 6.78 meters.
- Difference between a lawyer and a barrister?
- A lawyer conducts law suits for clients and advises them of their legal rights and obligations.
- A barrister practices advocacy in the court. They have less interaction with the clients.
- I think we can equate the barrister with the Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court. Can anybody from legal background clarify?
- I wrote something about
’s status in so far as the NPT (or NNPT) is concerned. Take a look at it in today’s Discover It blog. India
- In today’s
blog, I share with you a good power point presentation sent by one of my friends regarding the importance of time management. Do take a look at it here. Time Pass ’s thorium reserves India
- It has one-fourth of the world’s reserves.
- It hopes to use this alternative nuclear fuel entirely in its programme in the future. This has the potential to alter
’s equations with the rest of the nuclear world. India
- Information Technology Act in for review
- Two of the major flaws in the enactment relate to:
- Sexual abuse of children: the act of grooming the child for sexual relationships through online enticement or distributing/showing pornography or through online means to be made a criminal offence.
- Cyber terrorism: This has not been defined in the enactment.
- In addition it is also felt that the present law’s language is complex and needs to be thoroughly revamped.
- What is a green building?
- Green building is the practice of:
- increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials;
- reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, and
- having a good building life cycle through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal.
- Sunita Williams on a visit to
- Her record: the only woman astronaut to stay in space for a period of 195 days – the longest ever by a woman astronaut.
- Inflation at a mere 3.32% now
- It has hit this 5 year record low. This is again largely attributed to the base effect.
- Direct tax collections at record levels
- During the first six months (upto September 15th only) of this fiscal, they have crossed the Rs. 100,000 lakh crore mark. This is a growth of 41%.
- This implies that there is a significant jump in the income level of taxpayers.
- About night shift for women employees
- The government is bringing about legislative changes to allow women to work night shifts in factories. The move may be welcome provided
conforms to the existing ILO convention in this regard. One more reason for supporting such a move is that there are some jobs that are better suited for women – for eg., the population of the printed circuit boards. As long as their safety and security are ensured any such move is welcome. India
- At present the Factories Act, 1948 stipulates that women should not be working in factories beyond 7 PM and 6 AM. However, states can make an exception for a factory to allow them to work until 10 PM if the workplace ensures their occupational safety and adequate protection is given to them.
- The ILO convention also provides that women should not be put on night shifts for at least 16 weeks before and after childbirth, including at least eight weeks before childbirth.
- Baikonur cosmodrome in Khazakhstan,
- This is the place from where
carries out most of its space launches. Russia
- But now it is thinking of coming out with an alternate site somewhere in the
- Finally before logging of for today, do take our daily quiz here.
- The rise and rise of the rupee
- Over the past 6 months, the rupee has risen over 9%. The second fastest growing economy (
) has seen foreign portfolio and private equity investment and FDI. India
- A rising rupee means:
- Bad news for export oriented businesses. Exports will become costly for the foreign importers.
- Cheaper travel or spending on holidays abroad.
- Policy makers will have to weigh the options of fiscal sops to support exporters.
- A glut of liquidity that will stoke inflationary pressures.
- Foreign investors will be happy, because they get to take back more dollars when they convert their investments.
- Defence to close all microwave links by March 2009
- Present wireless communication technologies used by the ministry of defence are based on tropo-scattering and use spectrum inefficiently. In most countries, defence forces have migrated from these technologies and have vacated the spectrum for commercial use.
’s first power exchange gets the CERC nod India
- The CERC has approved the setting up of the country’s first power exchange – IEX, Indian Energy eXchange – for trading in power.
, the scope of trading in power is considered huge, because the North and West are power hungry and power deficit regions. The East is power surplus and has lot of spare capacity, which can be effectively traded. India
- Currently, short-term trading constitutes a mere 3% of the total energy market as against over 15% globally. Power markets generally operate with PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) for long-term trading and bilateral contracts for the short-term. For very short-term requirements there is the UI (Unscheduled Interchange) regime.
- A little about UI: Power transmission happens at high voltages – typically 132 KV and above. There is a grid to which several states are connected. For example, for the southern grid, almost all the four southern states are connected. Power is supposed to be supplied at an ideal frequency of 50 Hz. But frequencies sometimes touch 48.x. The lower frequency means that there is more consumption happening than what is being produced. Whoever draws power from the grid when the frequency is low pays more for the power consumed. This payment is made to those who draw less power during this time. Say for eg., if AP has drawn more power (than its permitted quota) when the grid frequency is 48 Hz, it will have to pay more for the extra that it has drawn. This ‘more’ will be much beyond the actual cost price of the power.
’s retail investor India
- Only 3.5 mn Indians – from a total working population of 321 mn people in the 18 to 59 age group -- invest in stocks. Or 7.2 mn invest in stocks, either directly or through mutual funds. That’s just over 2% of the total working population!
- Nobel prize winning economist Gunnar Myrdal wrote the book
- Asian Drama: An inquiry into the Poverty of Nations
- He, along with Friedrich von Hayek, won the 1974 Nobel Prize for Economics for their "pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and for their penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena.
- In “The Malaysian miracle” Joseph Stiglitz explains how
has successfully weathered the 1997 East Asian crisis and how it was a miracle economy in spite of it having all the failings of a previous colony. Malaysia
- Instead of taking to communism or
Russia, looked east and invested in education and technology. It pushed for a higher savings rate, enacted a strong and effective affirmative action programme and adopted sound macroeconomic policies. Malaysia
- It eschewed ideology and followed or rejected outsiders’ advice on pragmatic basis. During 1997, it did not adopt the IMF policies and as a result had the shortest and shallowest downturn of any of the afflicted economies.
- Alan Greenspan’s tenure as US Federal Reserve Chairman is marked by the following highlights:
- The economy grew 70% from 1987 through 2005
- The number of non-farm jobs increased 31.4 mn or 31% with average unemployment of 5.6%
- Annual inflation as measured by the consumer price index averaged 3.1%
- Pre-tax corporate profits jumped from $369 bn to $1.33 trillion
- The stock market quadrupled, with the S&P 500 stock index rising from 287 (the 1987 average) to 1,207 (the 2005 average)
- Yet, he called his memoir “The Age of Turbulence”. Critics say, he should have as well called it “The Age of Tranquility”.
- What is RFID?
- It is a data collection system based on tiny micro-chips attached to a box, pallet or an individual item that communicates with other devices using radio waves. Device readers capture the data from tags and, in some cases, write to them as well. The software then collates and distributes the data.
- It is nowadays used mostly in retail, asset tracking and logistics fields.
- New cricket academy at Bidadi, Karnataka
- BCCI is setting up a globally benchmarked
National Cricket Academywith an investment of Rs. 300 crores near . The NCA has been operating out of a temporary facility at the Chinnasamy stadium in Chennai since the year 2000. Bangalore
- Cyber Command set up by US Air Force
- In a first of its kind, the US Air Force has set up this. It will prepare the defence forces for wars in cyber space. The move comes amid concerns over a wave of hacker attacks originating in
Chinaagainst western governments and a crippling in May against Estoniaamid a dispute with . Russia
- The new command will operate at Barksdale Air Force Base in
- Are we seeing the Matrix in real life?
set to install the largest solar plant Spain
- So far the largest solar plant in the world is a 12 MW plant in
Bavaria, . Germany Spainis coming out with a solar plant in , consisting of 70,000 modules on a site of 36 hectares. It produces 13.8 MW of electricity, enough to meet the needs of 5,000 households. Salamanca
- About ULCA and the need for its repeal
- The ULCA was introduced in 1976 to prevent hoarding of land in private hands and facilitate execution of social welfare schemes. The law was scrapped by the Centre in 1999. However, some states like
Maharashtrahave continued to legislate on land issues since it is a state subject.
- ULCA, if repealed will release about 7,000 hectares of urban land.
- Encouragement to SME segment
- The ministry of small and medium enterprises has proposed that public sector companies and government departments must procure at least 20% of the total purchases from SMEs.
- About 358 items are reserved for procurement from SMEs. Also, a minimum of 10% of total purchases would have to be mandatorily procured from women-managed SMEs.
- CBI is itching to go after the private sector banks
- The CBI wants to extend its turf to cover private banks and corporates which remain largely outside its investigative domain.
- The logic extended by it is that since lot of public money is being managed by them, CBI should have the power to investigate their affairs.
- At present as per the Banking Regulation Act and Prevention of Corruption Act, private entities cannot be probed by the CBI.
- Bernanke does a Greenspan
- With the cut in the fed rate, the markets have cheered the Fed Chairman Mr. Bernanke. Some ET editorial comments made in this regard are worth a note:
- The reality is that the long-term problems of the
economy – huge current account imbalance and negative household savings – do need to be addressed. The falling dollar and long-dated Treasury bills are warning signals. For the moment though the Fed has taken the view that while it will keep a watch on inflation, the risk of recession is greater. US
- Commenting on the subprime crisis and its first casualty – the rescuing of Northern Rock bank in
, TT Ram Mohan made some sanguine comments about the state of our banking. England
- He says that while it may be true that the unfolding problems and crises in the world financial markets may have an impact on the Indian economy, it would be wrong to exaggerate these risks. This is because, there is little to suggest that the magnitude of losses in the present crisis cannot be absorbed by the markets and the central banks.
- Further while discounting the theory that the
UShousing collapse will have a domino effect on our housing markets, he identifies a clear distinction between the Indian housing market and the market. US
- In the
, the housing demand is driven by borrowing against assets, whether an existing house or stocks. This makes a fall in asset prices have a big impact on housing demand. But in US , the demand is driven by borrowing against future income. The resolve to have a roof over head is stronger. Moreover, the loan to asset value ratio is lower in India and this gives lenders a cushion against any steep fall in housing prices. India
- What was the Montreal protocol about?
- Signed 20 years ago, by 191 countries, it is about phasing out the use of ozone depleting substances. Many ozone depleting substances are also greenhouse gases; their elimination serves to protect not only the ozone layer but also the global climate.
- Living fossil
- The Horseshoe crab is an example of a living fossil.
- Its appearance has not changed since its origin over 20 mn years ago.
- 61st senior National Aquatics Championships
- Are being held in Panaji,
- Sandeep Sejwal of
and Karnataka’s Rehan Poncha have bettered the long standing records in 100 meters breast-stroke and 200 meters backstroke respectively. Delhi
- ANNOUNCEMENT: I was out of town on some personal work. Hence there were no posts for the last couple of days. Now that I am back we are resuming as usual.
- We are proud to be one year old now as a blog. We have started on September 17th of last year. Take a look at our very first post. It will perhaps look very amateurish for all of us now.
- The Fed has cut the fund rate. Take a look at some detailed explanation about some terminology in this context on our Discover It today.
- A new term for us to learn. It is going around the city with a WiFi laptop sniffing out wireless networks to gain illicit internet access.
- It was coined after another similar word “wardialing” which itself was coined after the 1983 film War Games, in which the protagonist searched for computer systems with software that dialed numbers randomly to see which ones were connected to a computer or a fax machine.
regaining status as seat of learning? India
- There is a threefold rise in the number of foreigners enrolled in Indian institutions, up from 6,988 in 2000 to 25,947 in 2006.
- There has been a whopping 53% increase in the number of students from the
in 2006 itself. US
- The story is pretty much the same for degree and post-graduate courses.
- IBM’s bid to find cures for Dengue fever and
West Nilevirus infections
- Both these have no known drug treatments. They are primarily passed on to humans by mosquitoes.
- IBM proposes to use the global computer grid to benefit humanity. Researchers estimated that 50,000 years of computing research would be needed to find out drug treatments for these diseases. It plans to cut short this time to 1 year by enlisting the help of donors to use their unused computer time for the research. If you are interested in donating your unused computer time for this research log on to www.worldcommunitygrid.org and join the programme.
- Virgin coconut oil?
- What is this? Normally coconut oil is extracted from copra, which is dried coconut. But virgin coconut oil is one that is extracted from the green coconut or coconut milk. This is said to carry more health benefits with a higher presence of vitamin E and lauric acid and absence of trasfatty acids.
- Mars Odyssey orbiter
- It went into safe mode because of some software glitch. The 6 year old spacecraft helps the mars rovers to send data to Earth.
- Gas pricing formula evolved by the EGoM
- It has four basic elements.
- A floor price of $2.5 per mmBtu
- Linkage to benchmark crude Brent (within a band of $25 to 60 per barrel)
- A dollar rupee exchange rate (based on the average of the last 12 months)
- The biddable component
- The selling price would depend on the biddable component determined in the bidding process.
- Why is a subprime mortgage crisis unlikely to hit
- NHB (National Housing Bank), the regulator for housing finance companies usually monitors the housing market very closely.
- Our lenders are also very conservative. The loan-to-value ratio of a typical housing loan transaction varies between 40% to 60%. That is, the loan sanctioned is only about 60% of the total cost of the house at the maximum. Thus the house financing company has a cushion of about 40% in case of depreciation in the asset value (house value). In US, this value is as high as 95%.
’s securitization market is very nascent. Hence not much of securitization of housing loans has taken place. India
- EMIs in
are annuitised. They are spread equally. There are no balloon payments in the subsequent years. India
- Our banks don’t allow piggybacking of loans. That is, no second mortgage on the same house enabling the borrower to buy a house with little or no equity.
- What is a feed-in tariff? Relates to electricity sector.
- Feed-in tariff is the rate at which one can sell power generated by them to the electricity distribution companies.
- West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission is the first ERC in the country to have announced such tariffs to encourage private distributed generation of electricity through non-conventional methods.
- Power needs of the country
- According to the Integrated Energy Policy (IEP), for a sustained economic growth rate of 8% through 2031-32, India needs to increase its primary energy supply by 3-4 times and its electricity generation capacity by 5-6 times of their 2003-04 levels. That means, the generation capacity must increase to nearly 800,000 MW from the present 160,000 MW.
- Our external debt to GDP ratio
- It is at 16.4% and is one of the lowest in the world.
- Insurance penetration in
- It is one of the lowest. Insurance premium as a percentage of GDP is only 4.1% as against 13.1% in the
UKand 8.3% in . Japan constitutes 16% of the world’s population, but accounts for only 1.68% of the world insurance market. India
- Digital smiley turns 25
- Scott E Fahlman is credited with using the smiley for the first time on September 19, 1982. He used three keystrokes – a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis – as a horizontal smiley face in a computer message. Remember this :-) ?
Convention on Law of Treaties Vienna
- It came into being in 1980.
- It defines a “Treaty” as an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.
’s Chief Mission
- Swami Gahanananda
- He is critically ill.
- CTBT – Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
- It bans all nuclear explosions. Although 140 countries have ratified the accord, it will not enter into force until it has been ratified by 44 states listed in an annexe that participated in a 1996 disarmament conference. Only 34 of those 44 countries have ratified it so far. The 10 that did not ratify are:
China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistanand the . US
- Quiz Contest Update: Friends, you have time only till Sunday (tomorrow i.e., 16th September) evening to take part in the quiz contest. Take your chance. I will be announcing the winner on Monday morning. Follow the link on the right side bar for the details.
- Most popular Net activities in
- Sending emails is the most popular activity undertaken by all.
- This is followed by searching for jobs, instant messaging, checking news, and music as the top five activities.
- The remaining slots in the top 10 activities are occupied by chatting, checking sports, e-greetings, online games and dating or friendship activities.
- On globalization
- Can you name a couple of books on globalization? Read anyone of them? Ever? If you don’t have the time to read them, I strongly suggest that you should at least read reviews on them.
- Take a look at one such book which is reviewed in today’s ET. It is about Nayan Chanda’s “Bound Together – How traders, preachers, adventurers and warriors shaped globalization”.
- Other notable people who wrote on globalization include: Thomas Friedman with his “The world is flat” and Joseph Stiglitz with his “Globalisation and Its Discontents”.
- Some snippets from the review on Nayan Chanda’s book:
- Steamship was introduced in 1780.
’s GDP was 25% of the world GDP in 1700 AD. India
- The top 1% of American families hold more wealth than the bottom 90% combined.
too, less than 0.5% of the households now own over 60% of the nation’s personal wealth. China
- Can states borrow money as they feel? Or is there any limit to it?
- Under Article 293 of the Constitution there are some restrictions imposed on their borrowings.
- For the loans raised in
, the security that can be offered is the Consolidated Fund of the State concerned. India
- The Central government may give loans to States or give guarantees to the loans raised by them. For this, the backing is the Consolidated Fund of India.
- States cannot borrow if there are pending loans, unless the consent of the Government of India is obtained.
- Now it is the turn of logistic parks from Railways
- Indian Railways is coming out with 20 such parks. They are based on the concept of ‘walk to work’ with office spaces, industrial clusters and hotel accommodation.
- They are likely to be located in the DMIC (Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor) and Railway’s eastern corridor (Delhi-Howrah).
- They will extend fiscal support for companys’ units, making them ideal to locate distribution centres due to fiscal incentives like VAT exemptions that are expected to be given.
- The unfolding events of the subprime crisis and some recommendations on handling them:
- The contraction of property and stock markets will undoubtedly dampen
household borrowing and demand, potentially triggering a downward spiral. If protection is sought through tariff and other trade-related measures, then the knock-on effects could have even more devastating consequences. US
- Infusing liquidity by central bankers can only calm the financial markets for some time. But this will not by itself redress the fundamental problem behind the current turmoil. What is needed is a coordinated strategy to avoid recession and to return lasting stability to financial markets.
- The international financial architecture has overly emphasized strengthening governance in developing countries. It has totally ignored the systemic problems linked to unregulated private capital flows.
- Child deaths at record lows
- UNICEF said that child deaths have fallen to a record low of 9.7 mn per year for the first time since 1990 when 13.7 mn deaths were recorded.
- It credits this performance largely to campaigns to combat measles and malaria and promoting breast-feeding.
- Rahul Dravid resigns as captain of the Indian team
- He led
in 25 test matches and 79 ODIs. Of this India won 8 test matches and 42 ODIs. India
- Dredging Corporation of India
- It got a new CMD in SS. Tripathi.
- Archaeological Survey of India
- Its Director General is A. Vaish
- An excellent editorial comment in The Hindu on the Ram Setu issue:
- That this overreaching statement and the outcry it sparked should ultimately prompt the government to re-examine the issue of the channel alignment is a reflection of the fragility of the secular, scientific ethos and of the highly charged times when communally oriented sections lie in wait to seize any issue that could appeal to religious sentiment.
- The overreaching statement referred to above is the one made in the affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court that literary texts “cannot be said to be the historical record to incontrovertibly prove the existence of characters or the occurrence of events” of the Ramayana.
’s lunar probe nearing launch Japan
- After a four year delay,
’s space agency is preparing to launch SELENE (SELenological and Engineering Explorer) spacecraft. Hailed as the most ambitious project since the US Apollo programme, the probe will study the moon to understand its origins and aid future exploration. Japan
- Take a look at what we noted on 25th August on this in the context of Japan China rivalry in space exploration.
- Formula One racing world hit by spy scandal
- Formula One championship leaders McLaren have been found guilty of harnessing stolen technical secrets from Ferrari for the development of their MP4-22 car. But McLaren team boss Ron Dennis has rejected the notion that any aspect of Ferrari F2007 car design was incorporated into the design of McLaren’s MP4-22. After tyre maker Bridgestone became sole supplier for McLaren, the latter allegedly benefited from details of Ferrari’s brake-balancing mechanism and car set up.
- Ferrari contends that knowledge of their racing procedures – contained in a 780 page dossier – passed on to McLaren’s chief designer, must have filtered through to McLaren team.
- The World Motor Sport Council has imposed a fine of $100 mn on McLaren team. But the drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso escaped punishment, as they provided evidence in exchange for immunity. McLaren team has been thrown out of this year’s championships.