Politics & the Nation

  • Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on State visit to India
    • During his three day visit, India and Russia are expected to sign a nuclear deal for the construction of four additional reactors at Kudankulam nuclear power plant and expansion of other sites. Both the countries are expected to sign another agreement to supply Russian nuclear fuel to Indian nuclear power plants.
  • Internet Governance Forum meets in Hyderabad, India
    • The third annual event of the IGF is being held for the first time in India.
    • As many as 1,500 delegates, including about 1,000 from 90 countries across the world, are expected to take part in the meet.
    • The non-postponement of the meet in view of the recent Mumbai carnage is significant.
Finance & Economy
  • What explains the growing strength of the dollar?
    • One, is the fear factor. During tough economic times, investors often flee foreign currencies and other risky assets for safe havens like the US dollar.
    • Two, the pound, the euro and many emerging market currencies have had an appreciation vis-a-vis the dollar in the last six years. But early on this year, some investors started betting that the bubble would burst. That explains the depreciation of these currencies against the dollar.
    • Three, many of the dollar investments made abroad are being rolled down to meet local repayment obligations in the US. This is what is causing strong demand for the dollar. That explains the appreciation.
  • Taxation on cross-border deals gets a shot in the arm with the Bombay High Court ruling in Vodafone case
    • Vodafone International bought Hutchison's 67% stake for $11.2 bn in Hutchison-Essar. The IT Department feels that this transaction attracts capital gains tax. Hence it issued a notice to Vodafone International. Vodafone feels that it is not liable to tax and that tax, if any, has to be levied on Hutchison Telecommunications International Limited, whcih made profits out of the deal. The latter incidentally is no longer operating in India. Hence IT Department feels that it can ask Vodafone to pay the tax as it is acting like an "agent" of HTIL.
    • On January 28, 2008, Vodafone filed the writ petition in the high court challenging the I-T department's notice seeking payment of capital gains tax by the company.
    • So, what are the implications of this High Court order? Take a look at this graphic for concise details.
  • Casino capitalism
    • I don't know whether Srivatsa Krishna is the first one to coin this phrase. But his article in today's ET is a compelling read as it raises some questions and gives facts which we have not so far come across. Take a look.
  • Futures trading in commodities to resume
    • Commodity market regulator Forward Markets Commission (FMC) has approved the proposal of four leading exchanges — MCX, NCDEX, NMCE and NBoT — to launch contracts for futures trading in four items potato, rubber, soya oil and chana) that were banned till November 30.
    • The government had suspended futures trading in the four items for four months on May 6 under pressure from Left parties, who blamed futures markets for price rise.
  • Are falling cruse prices bad? Experts argue that they are. Look at their reasons:
    • Low energy prices squeeze investment in the oil industry, reducing future supplies.
    • They discourage energy saving and they destabilise countries dependent on oil exports, making oil in the future more likely to be expensive and even more volatile.
    • Low energy prices stifle investment in alternative energy, deepening dependence on oil and other hydrocarbons and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Cuba's relations with Caricom
    • Caricom is a 15 member trade bloc of the Caribbean island states. Cuba maintains strong relations with members of the bloc, despite U.S. efforts to pressure the small nations to isolate Havana.
    • Yet, Cuba is not a member of the grouping. But it does help Caricom by giving educational and medical aid in times of need.
    • Ties between Caricom and Cuba stem in part from its small members' support for Fidel Castro's decades-long defiance of the U.S., and from gratitude for medical and education aid the island has given despite its own financial struggles.
    • Cuba is set to host the next summit of Caricom leaders next week. This is the third summit it is hosting in spite of it not being a member.
  • Biological terror attack likely by 2013, feels a US panel
    • A blue-ribbon panel constituted by the US Congress, came to this conclusion after hearing testimony from more than 250 experts from around the world over the course of their six-month investigation.
    • Congress created the commission to investigate and report on WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and terrorism in line with a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, which compiled a report on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
    • Blue-ribbon panel (sometimes called a blue ribbon commission) is an informal term generally used to describe a group of exceptional persons appointed to investigate or study a given question.
  • Cluster bomb treaty opened for signature in Oslo, Norway
    • More than 100 countries are expected to sign, but some of the biggest stockpilers, including the US, Russia and China will not be among them.
    • First developed during World War II, cluster bombs contain a number of smaller bomblets designed to cover a large area and deter an advancing army. They are seen as outmoded and immoral because of the dangers posed to civilians from bombs that do not explode and litter the ground like landmines.
  • Golf
    • The Pinx Cup, which began in 1999, is a two-day team event drawing the top women golfers from South Korea and Japan.
    • The event is set to start this Saturday.
  • Shah Rukh Khan gets knighted by Malaysia; thanks the country
    • Malaysia has conferred the title on him stating that the actor, by shooting two movies, including 'One Two ka Four', had made Malacca popular across the world as Hindi films are seen by people in several countries.
    • Khan was awarded the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) which carries the title "Datuk".
    • The award ceremony was held in October, which was not attended by the actor as he did not apparently have adequate advance intimation.
  • Gulzar gets Akshaya Samman 2008
    • This award of Rs. 1 lakh and a citation, instituted in memory of singer and musician Akshaya Mohanty is given every year to a prominent personality in the field of music or literature.
  • International Day for Persons with Disability observed
    • Marking the occassion New Delhi, 28 disabled people were presented National Awards by the government for their exemplary commitment and role in "defeating" disability.

1 Comment:

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