Politics & the Nation

  • Assembly election results
    • Congress wrested power from opponents in two states viz., Rajasthan (from BJP) and Mizoram (from MNF) while retaining in Delhi. BJP retains power in MP & Chattisgarh.
    • This should give a shot in the arm for the Congress. It is the BJP which should be worried that its anti-terror rhetoric did not yield it any dividends. While BJP launched a propaganda blitzkrieg, round the clock TV live telecast of the Mumbai tragedy offered a perfect 'emotional setting' for it. Madhya Pradesh voted the day after the Mumbai blast, Delhi & Mizoram just three days after it and Rajasthan a week later.
    • Take a look at this graphic; it gives you details of the seats won by each party in each of the states.
    • Analysing the elections results, PS Jha says that the electorate in India has demonstrated three significant changes taking place in India:
      • The first is that while the anti-incumbent sentiment continues to be a powerful determinant of results, it is beginning to lose some of its steam.
      • The second is that it is doing so because of a profound change in the nature and expectations of the electorate.
      • The third, a corollary to the second, is that although the entire nation is still in shock after the terrorist attack on Mumbai, voters have not allowed their sentiments to colour their voting in the state assembly elections, and have concentrated on what are to them more important issues.
  • Top LeT leader responsible for Mumbai attacks arrested?
    • Media reports are saying that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was among at least 12 others detained on Sunday by the Pakistani authorities. The arrests reportedly followed a raid on the LeT training camp operating near Muzaffarabad in PoK.
    • Now what would be closely watched is whether or not the Pakistani authorities will hand him over to India. If they do, there is every chance that the relations between India and Pakistan will take a sudden turn for the better -- at least temporarily. It presents a chance for the two countries to build on that and take the peace process forward. But if it doesn't, well, the situation will continue to fester as it hasbeen all along.
    • Let's wait and see what's in store for the subcontinent.
  • A related development of interest in this regard is the decision of the self-styled mastermind in the 9/11 attacks to plead guilty.
    • Incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay prison, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants on Monday offered to plead guilty to charges that could lead to the death penalty.
Finance & Economics
  • Is the Keynesian thrust given by the government going to keep the economic growth in the fast track mode?
    • By "Keynesian thrust", we mean a combination of more government spending and tweaking taxes that puts more money in people's hands, which when spent is expected to provide the necessary stimulus to an economy to grow.
    • Today's debate in the Perspectives column is basically about this. A worthy read; if you have the time and patience. If you dont' have both, try looking at this:
      • Unclear policy regime and multiplicity of agencies (Central and State) involved in the approval process are dampening the investments in the infrastructure. It is basically not one of availability of funds/investment. Once these two are taken care of, investment will automatically flow into these sectors. So, a fiscal push on this score, without tackling these two issues, cannot be a silver bullet by itself.
      • The other measures announced viz., excise duty reduction, commitment to spend the budgeted amounts etc., surely augur well for the economy.
  • Nokia is moving beyond handsets; let's understand the context.
    • Nokia provides internet services such as music and games downloads, maps and other location-based services, messaging and other media offerings. Why?
    • Over a billion people in the world use a Nokia handset. It is reportedly shipping around 330 mn handsets per quarter. With just about 25% of the world's population having an email address, the company feels that it is uniquely placed to change the situation.
  • Why are there protests in Greece?
    • There were protests in Greece over education reforms sometime last week.
    • While trying to contain the violent mobs, the Police shot dead a 16 year old boy. This led to further protests and rioting all across the major cities in the country. Riots spread to Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, to the northern cities of Komotini and Ioannina, and to Crete. A similar shooting in 1985 led to years of violence.
    • Greece is not unfamiliar with violent protests. Greece's anarchists regard the quarter of Exarchia (in Athens) as their fortress and they frequently lure police into ambushes so they can attack them with rocks and fire bombs.
  • America remembers its war dead
    • The Pearl Harbour was attacked 67 years ago by Japanese war planes. The attack claimed more than 2,300 American lives and prompted the United States to enter World War II.
    • The attack happened on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941.
    • The attack was intended as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war Japan was planning to wage in Southeast Asia against Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. It consisted of two aerial attack waves totaling 353 aircraft, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers.
  • Christie Hefner
    • Who is this? I am sure you all would have heard about Playboy magazine. Who could be its editor? A male? A female?
    • Christie Hefner is the CEO of Playboy Enterprises. She will resign next month after two decades running the magazine company her father founded. Hefner, 56, will remain on the board until her replacement is found, the Chicago-based company said in a statement.
Science & Technology
  • Research into quality of human sperm
    • It is reported to have revealed that sperm quality is determined by the intelligence of man and vice versa.
    • General intelligence (the extent to which specific, measurable aspects of intelligence, such as linguistic facility, mathematical aptitude and spatial awareness, are correlated in a given individual) is measured by psychologists using a value called Spearman’s g.