• An interesting case on credit card interest rates pending before Supreme Court
    • The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, gave an order recently (July 7, 2008) restraining Citibank from charging an interest rate of over 30% a year to credit card holders who fail to make full payment on the due date. Citibank approached the Supreme Court challenging this order.
    • The US-based bank pointed out that the RBI in its circular of July 23, 2008 had said that banks prescribe their respective ceiling rate of interest in respect of small-value personal loans and this would apply to credit card dues as well. RBI had clearly stated that banks were free to determine rates of interest on non-priority sector personal loans without reference to the Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) and regardless of the size of loan.
    • Credit card interest rates are usually very high, hovering well above 36% on an annualized basis. That’s why I have never been using credit cards as credit cards; but as charge cards. That is I will never keep any amount outstanding. I will pay off the entire amount shown as outstanding on any given month. Once you get into the trap of paying the minimum amount due shown in a credit card bill, you are in for bondage almost like forever. So be cautious. And let us hope the Supreme Court will drive some sense into this madness of too high rates.
  • Centre’s head-in-the-sand approach to terror law
    • It is well known that Maharashtra has an act which is popularly known as the MCOCA. It gives the state government some teeth to fight terrorism. But when Gujarat framed a similar law called GCOCA and sent it to the Centre for Presidential assent, the Ministry of Home Affairs has been sitting on it for the last four years.
    • The stand taken by the Centre is that laws which are similar to POTA are no good and that in spite of their being on the statute book, they did not deter the occurrence of terrorist activities. I can’t agree more with the Gujarat CM Mr. Modi, when he counters this argument by saying that just because there is Section 302 of IPC (which prescribes death penalty for murder) on the statute book murders have not stopped taking place.
    • You have the whole field of debate open for you boys. Go shoot out your opinions in the shout-box.
  • Kosi floods in Bihar; failure of Indian diplomacy?
    • The Kosi river burst a dam in neighbouring Nepal earlier this month and surged into Bihar, swamping village after village as authorities failed to evacuate millions on time.
    • Surging waters have swamped 1,00,000 hectares of farmlands, destroying wheat and paddy crops worth millions of rupees.
    • The death toll so far – 85 and still counting.
    • Take a look at this highly informative piece that is penned by NK Singh. I like him for the details he gives. Some excerpts from his piece for those of you who want to keep it for record:
    • The Kosi is a tributary of the Ganges and travels through the upper mountainous regions in Nepal before meeting the plains of Bihar and merging with the Ganges several hundred km downstream. The meandering path that it takes bringing floods along has earned it the sobriquet ‘River of Sorrow’ comparable to the Huang Ho, also known as Yellow River, of China.
    • The first credible attempt to tame the river began in 1956 with an eastern and western embankment of 105 and 106 km, respectively, of which about 32 km of the eastern embankment is located in Nepal. The embankments were completed in 1959. A barrage at Birpur to regulate water flow was completed in 1964.
    • The Indo-Nepalese agreement signed between the two countries which facilitated this project brought benefits to both India and Nepal. The Nepalese side however continued to question the adequacy of benefits received from the project. Nepal had all along wanted a barrage system upstream of the present which in their perception would have yielded more optimum returns.
  • Language lesson: sobriquet
    • A familiar name for a person (often a shortened version of a person's given name)
  • Pax Americana and Pax Britannica; an explanation
    • I am sure many a political science student would have been flummoxed by these two terms at the first sight. If I remember it right; they are still there somewhere in the International Relations paper. Know what they mean? Look at this excellent explanation ferreted out from the web for you:
    • The term "pax" is Latin for peace. Historians for centuries have referred to "Pax Romana" to describe the period of relative peace and prosperity when the Roman Empire dominated Europe and the Middle East. The unified control by a single power prevented lots of smaller fights between countries or small independent powers which would have fought had they not been under Roman Control. It contrasts with the chaos and barbarism that existed before and after the Empire.
    • In the 19th Century, many began referring to "Pax Britannica" to justify British Colonialism bringing peace and civilization to many areas of the world.
    • Today some people have altered the term yet again to "Pax Americana" to say that the US domination of the world can force a relative peace in many areas of the world by exerting its strength.
    • It is with this background that you should read today’s op-ed piece that appeared in ET. It discusses how the American hegemony has been taking a severe beating in this 21st century.
  • FTA with ASEAN
    • It is the fourth regional trade agreement after the FTA with Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore.
    • The deal will give a fillip to bilateral trade, which is currently only $35 billion, less than a fifth of that between China. This is expected to go up to $50 billion by 2010 and once talks for trade in services and investment are also concluded by end 2009, it is bound to increase even further.
  • One of the paradoxes of India’s tag as a poor nation
    • In a country of more than a billion, the industry is facing shortage of skilled workers while over 700 million live on less than $2 a day!

1 Comment:

watercoloured said...

I think that acts like POTA in the hands of an inefficent legal system and a corrupt government with a poor history of proper implimentation is an invitation to human rights violation.