05.12.2008

Politics & the Nation
  • Finally Vilasrao Deshmukh gets the axe
    • Though Congress culture is quite well known (its leaders usually get cues from their High Command as to what should be done and should not be done), he was quite graceful in owning up responsibility for not preventing the carnage and stepped down.
    • We wish him all the best in his next endeavour.
  • We are not alone in thinking about limits to sovereignty while trying to contain terror; there are others:
    • Robert Kagan, an analyst with Carnegie Endowment is quoted thus: ''Rather than simply begging the Indians to show restraint, a better option could be to internationalise the response. Have the international community declare that parts of Pakistan have become ungovernable and a menace to international security." ''Would such an action (strikes) violate Pakistan's sovereignty?'' Kagan asked in an op-ed, and answered, ''Yes, but nations should not be able to claim sovereign rights when they cannot control territory from which terrorist attacks are launched.''
    • It is such views that India and other similarly placed terror victims should capitalize on and launch full scale lobbying efforts across capitals across the world and in the UN to mobilize international opinion. It is an international response that is needed for such attacks. Pakistani "non-state actor" theory should be accepted at its face value and turned against it by saying that the internationally authorized attacks are not directed at Pakistan State; instead they are aimed at the non-state actors (over whom admittedly it has no control) and the territory that is controlled by them.
  • Why shouldn't we read too much into Codoleezza Rice's statements in Pakistan?
    • Various papers and news channels have been reading too much into Condi's statements in Pakistan on the Mumbai terror investigations. That she has conveyed a tough message to Pakistan to act against LeT et al. But is it going to lead India anywhere? I doubt it. Make no mistake; while US surely does take the Mumbai carnage seriously, bringing its perpetrators to book doesn't occupy a higher place in its agenda than fighting the Taliban/Al Qaeda in the NWFP of Pakistan. Until and unless the US is made to realize by incontrovertible evidence gathered by our intelligence agencies that LeT has not just India on its radar but a larger war (being waged along with Al Qaeda) against the infidel US and Israel, the fight by India against LeT will not inch up in the priorities for the US. To this end, it would be unwise for India to keep depending on US for intelligence. It should be Indian intelligence which should be feeding US.
  • Recap of the IC 814 flight hijacking episode
    • The Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked Dec 24, 1999 and taken to Kandahar, where the passengers were held hostage till Dec 31, when the then foreign minister Jaswant Singh reached Kandahar and handed over the three prisoners the terrorist had demanded to be released in exchange.
    • The aircraft was hijacked while it was near Lucknow and was taken to Amritsar where it was allowed to refuel and then it landed at Kandahar where it remained captive for eight days.
  • This graphic gives you a good backgrounder on LeT, a name which is synonymous with terrorism.
Finance & Economics
  • That inflation is giving us enough cause for cheer is clear.
    • It has come down to 8.4% from a peak of 13% seen in August.
    • Take a look at this graphic. It gives details of the composition of the WPI.
  • Crude tests lower levels
    • We have noted yesterday the various consequences of fall in crude prices.
    • But crude seems destined to keep testing lower levels at least until the current global recession is over sometime in late 2009. It looks as though we are likely to see crude rates, which till yesterday appeared impossible. I won't be surprised to see them slide even to $30 per barrel levels. Currently it is hovering around $44 per barrel.
    • What makes me crystal gaze like this is the fact that OPEC production cuts in September and October have not been able to make a dent in the slide of the crude prices. So, it is clear that, it is not production cuts which can halt the free fall in crude prices; it is the economy which can do so. With economists predicting no upturn till late 2009 countries like ours are in for a bonanza.
  • What was seen as profligacy, in the context of India's macro-economic management, has now become a virtue! Comment.
    • If you are asked such a question, you can't have a better answer than today's ET editorial. Read it. Here is an excerpt which captures the essence:
      • The farm loan write-off, the Pay Commission award, increased funding of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, higher minimum wages in several states, the huge subsidy for fertilisers and petroproducts through price controls and the issue of compensating bonds to marketing companies, all add up to a huge stimulus. Earlier this was criticised as populism to buy votes. But this has now become an accidental but useful Keynesian stimulus.
  • On streamlining our defence offset policy
    • I am sure many of you remember our earlier notings about defence offset policy.
    • All of us, including those of you that slipped have to read this op-ed piece. It explains the origin and evolution of the offset policy in India and also suggests the measures needed to streamline it by taking our experience of the last three years into account.
Personalities
  • MV Krishna Rao, IPS
    • Has taken over as Director General of SSB. Sashastra Seema Bal. It guards the border with Nepal and Bhutan.
Abbreviation
  • USINPAC: US India Political Action Committee. It is a grouping which works in the US and is the political voice of 2.5 million Indian-Americans. It provides bipartisan support to candidates for federal, state and local office.
Culture
  • Indian at 2nd place in Miss World competition
    • Parvathy Omanakuttan secured the 2nd place in the Miss World 2008 competition held at Johannesburg, South Africa.
    • Winner is Miss Russia, Kseniya Sukhinova and the third place went to Miss Angola, Micaela Reis.
Language lessons
  • While reading an editorial about Mumbai's history (an excellent read), I came across these two words. I am sure you would appreciate the play of the words:
    • gumption
      • Noun: Sound practical judgment
      • Fortitude and determination
    • gossamer
      • Adjective: Characterized by unusual lightness and delicacy
      • So thin as to transmit light

2 comments:

Lokesh Jain said...

Hey the winners of miss world 2008 were announced on 13/12/08 and you gave the winner's name along with runner up on 5/12/08.How did you know about the results?Any contacts?

ramkyc said...

Ummm... Isn't it time for me to pose as a clairvoyant? I did as one before my home crowd.

Fun apart, this was there on CNN on 5th December. I am equally puzzled as to why there was so much delay in the 'live telecast' of the contest.