• HDFC Bank to buy CBoP (Centurian Bank of Punjab)
    • In what is stated to be the biggest merger in the Indian banking scene, HDFC is set to take over CBoP in an all-stock deal.
  • ET-NCAER (Economic Times – National Council of Applied Economic Research) Business Confidence survey
    • Remember this survey that is done periodically? The results of this survey for the quarter ended December 2007 are out now.
    • The BCI (Business Confidence Index) has risen by 5.5% (8 points) to 154. This shows that India Inc is brimming with confidence, notwithstanding the apparent indications of a slowdown in industrial growth and corporate earnings. If the positive sentiment persists despite the turmoil in the capital market, corporate earnings may be back on track in the coming quarters.
    • The political confidence index too has risen for the third consecutive quarter to its highest level (127.7, which is higher by 5.2 points over the previous quarter’s figure) till date. But India Inc doesn’t seem too pleased with the pace of economic reforms.
  • Best of the Booker
    • This is a one-off award that is contemplated to honour the finest novel to have won the Man Booker Prize for fiction since it was first awarded in 1969.
    • India born authors Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy would be among those vying for the award.
  • How should India combat the imminent global stagflation?
    • The US economy is perceived as facing a recession for sure. The Singapore economy has shrunk by 4.8% in the last quarter.
    • Such slow down should logically lead to a fall in prices. But on the contrary prices are rising globally. Oil surged past $100 per barrel. US wheat prices are well over $400 per tonne, more than 100% higher than it was this time last year. Rice prices are up 20% to 40% over the past year, while edible oil prices have jumped 60% to 100%. New contracts for Brazilian iron ore signed a few days ago raised prices by 65%.
    • One of the reasons being cited for the rise in prices is that droughts and diversion of arable land to bio-fuels have fuelled record agricultural prices.
    • So, to combat the global stagflation, the country would be better off spending a lot on improving infrastructure rather than spending on oil subsidies and thinking of tax cuts, goes one suggestion.
  • Thinking of oil subsidies…
    • It is widely believed that the off-budget subsidies constitute about 2% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
    • One argument that is usually made about oil prices is that taxes constitute a humungous proportion of the price of the oil products. But in a very interesting study, Saumitra Chaudhuri shows that it is not the case.
    • If we work back from the retail selling price in Delhi of gasoline and diesel of Rs 45.52 and Rs 31.76 per litre in effect since February 15, 2008, we find that including customs duty on imported crude and state VAT on products, the total tax burden comes to 51% for gasoline and 30% for diesel or on weighted average basis, 34% of the retail price.
    • Is this very high? In Europe the tax component in gasoline ranges from 51% (Spain) to 64% (UK), while that for diesel it goes from 33% in Spain to 55% in the UK. In Japan and Canada the respective figures are 27% and 30% for gasoline and 25% and 22% for diesel. In the OECD, only in the US, is the tax rate significantly lower than that in India — at about 14% for both fuels. In most of the Persian Gulf and other oil exporting countries there are subsidies, not taxes, on automotive fuels.
  • Supreme Court judges strength to be increased to 31
    • At present, by virtue of an amendment made in 1986, there are a total of 25 Supreme Court judges.
    • Now the Union Cabinet has decided to increase the strength to 31 including the Chief Justice. A bill to this effect is likely to be introduced in Parliament shortly.
    • The increase is in view of the huge pendency of cases – 46,926 till January this year.
    • In the High Courts, a little over 37 lakh cases are pending. The total strength of the High Court judges in the country is 877. But of these, only 593 are reportedly filled.
  • 2010 Youth Olympiad
    • Singapore is set to host this first ever Olympiad.
  • US efforts at destroying its failed satellite
    • In December 2006, it launched a 5000 pound spy satellite which is roughly the size of a school bus.
    • Soon after launch it went dead. It is orbiting at 208 km over the earth’s surface. As it is sure to make an entry into the earth’s atmosphere, the US decided to ‘kill’ it, by shooting it down with missiles launched from its naval vessels.
    • The worry is about the satellite’s fuel tank which is filled with 1000 pounds of toxic hydrazine.
    • The US says that its missiles had destroyed the satellite; but doubts persist about the fuel tank.


Yusuf said...

Thanks Ramky ... I appreciate all your efforts

Anonymous said...

Dear Ramakrishna,

You are doing a beautiful job...I sincerely appreciate your time and effort....

Thanks & Best Regards,