• The SEZ stamp duty imbroglio
    • SPECIAL economic zones (SEZs) could be in for some tax trouble from states. States have questioned the stamp duty exemption given by the Centre under the SEZ Act. Some state governments have objected to the Centre’s powers to provide such a tax sop and termed the move to exempt stamp duty under the Indian Stamp Act as ultra vires.
    • The stamp duty rates prescribed by Parliament in respect of bill of exchange, cheques, transfer of shares, etc will prevail all over India. However, other stamp duty rates prescribed by Parliament in Indian Stamp Act, 1899 (e.g. stamp duty on agreements, affidavit, articles of association of a company, partnership deed, lease deed, mortgage, power of attorney, security bond, etc.) are valid only for Union territories. In case of states, the rates prescribed by individual states will prevail in those states.
  • RCom and MTN deal
    • Talks are reportedly progressing well in this merger deal.
    • If the deal goes through, the combined entity will have a market capitalisation of $66 billion and operations in 23 countries.
  • About the Baha’i community
    • The five and half million-strong Baha’i community across the world is extremely disturbed over the arrest of their top leadership in Iran.
    • These arrests are reminiscent of the previous occasions when the national leadership of the Iranian Baha’i community was arrested in 1980-81 which led to the execution of 17 individuals at that time.
  • Energy from footfalls
    • Now the footfall of trudging shoppers is to become the latest source of emission free energy. Under floor generators, powered by “heel strike” and designed by British engineers, may soon be installed in supermarkets and railway stations.
    • The technology uses the footsteps of pedestrians to power thousands of light bulbs at shopping centres. It works by using the pressure of feet on the floor to compress pads underneath, driving fluid through mini-turbines that then generate electricity, which is stored in a battery.
    • Engineers who have modelled the effects of the technology at Victoria Underground station in central London have calculated that the 34,000 travellers passing through every hour could power 6,500 light bulbs.
  • Government’s measures to check price rise in steel products
    • Government recently imposed 15% export duty on hot-rolled steel products, 10% on cold rolled steel products, pipes and tubes and 5% on galvanised sheets to disincentivise exports and contain the domestic demand-supply gap.
    • THE government may take another set of fiscal measures to check surging steel prices. It is considering an increase in export cess on long steel products from 10% to 15%. An increase in the cess amount would improve its availability in the domestic market and check price rise of the products used for construction activities.
  • Why will low cost aviation not work in India?
    • A very good editorial argues that it can’t work for the following reasons:
      • Lack of secondary airports or operating in off-peak times from main airports, which helps keep landing, parking and airport charges low.
      • The Indian aviation infrastructure prevents low-cost carriers from offering point-to-point connectivity with fast turnaround time for greater asset use.
      • The cost structure of low-cost carriers is not much different from that of full-service airlines, which means that a sharp difference in fares was never going to be sustainable.
    • The piece is worth a read; at least once. You find it here.
  • One more excellent piece on the oil price rise
    • It is very rare that thoughts coming from such minds as Ruchir Sharma’s will not interest us. Look at how he identifies and lambasts 7 myths about the reasons for the current price rise. The myths he identified are:
      • The oil price surge is due to a drop in output growth.
      • Emerging market demand is main determinant of oil prices
      • Emerging market demand is price inelastic.
      • Better standards of living in developing countries will only increase oil consumption
      • The tidal fund flow into oil and other commodity products will keep raising their prices in financial markets
      • Retail gasoline and diesel prices in emerging markets such as India are too low by global standards
      • A 1970s-style decade lies ahead for the global economy. Until late 2007, the rise in oil prices did not pose a problem for the global economy
    • While I leave it to you to follow his article here for an explanation and busting of each of the myths, demand contraction as happened in 1979 when the expenditure on oil has touched 7% of the world’s GDP is worth a look in this graphic.
  • A very interesting article on food shortage
    • This one is by Arun Firodia, the Chairman of the Kinetic Group.
    • It is a very interesting article and is a must read. He gives solid facts and figures to buttress his arguments.
    • After reading this, I am happy that I remained a vegetarian. I would like to remain so in future and be happy that I am contributing something to solve the food crisis. Though, ofcourse, I don’t know that I have been part of the solution so far J
    • If only animals were intelligent and can communicate with humans, I am sure; they would have taken Arun Firodia to task by now.
  • About the term BRIC
    • The term BRIC was coined by the Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs to describe how the four rising economies are likely to rival and overtake many of the West’s leading economies over the next half century.
    • Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist has originated the term in 2003.
  • What is ‘SMS search’ that Microsoft India launched recently?
    • SMS search services help users type a query on their mobile and send it to a number. In turn, the users will receive search results just like that of internet-enabled mobiles.
    • With the SMS search, users can search content related to ring tones, wallpapers, images or local information on restaurants and shops. Microsoft has also tied up with yellow page providers Infomedia and Indiacom for local data and content.
    • There are an estimated 280 million mobile subscribers in the country and five million are being added every month.
    • Similarly, Microsoft’s rival Google has partnered with Airtel to offer search services on mobile.
  • Look at the final results at Roland Garros
  • We, as a country have been cricket mad.
    • But do take a look at the football mania that sweeps Europe here.
  • Finally, in Discover It, today I noted about


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