Politics & the Nation
  • Ajmal is my son, says terrorist's father
    • While admitting that the lone terrorist captured in the Mumbai carnage case, is his son, he said that his son left home about 4 years ago becuase he was miffed at not being provided new clothes on the eve of Eid. According to his version, after a brush with crime, he joined LeT.
    • Now, the root cause theory proponents are likely to say that it is the unemployment and the resultant dejection that is to be tackled to prevent terrorism. If that is to be accepted, then the Somali pirates, the Rwandan militias, and perhaps even the rapists and psychopaths out there in the world also need to be 'understood' in the context of their background -- which can vary from being poor, unemployed, dejected, or not having a married life etc., -- for their indulging in crime, terrorism, piracy etc.
    • I think time has come for humanity to take a relook at what is meant by the fundamental right to live. So long as an individual is showing contempt for the life of others, he should be deprived of his fundamental right to live. To this end, the rule of law needs to be amended and speedier justice meted out so that such people are 'relieved' of their burden to live. I am sure calls like these are going to remain unheard of; till another Friench revolution or something like that happens somewhere. Till such time the political class will let things as they are, and keep lecturing us about rule of law.
  • A very good article on improving our homeland security
    • Authored by Vinod Rao, this is one piece that comprehensively puts at a single place all the requirements that are needed for strengthening our internal security. Not that we do not know about these things; but when asked to list out the requirements, we are sure to find ouselves groping for details. Worth a read.
Finance & Economy
  • IIP drops for the first time in 15 years
    • It fell unexpectedly 0.4% in October. But FMCG players have disputed these figures saying that they have experienced robust growth during the period.
      Is this a strong enough case for further interest rate cuts and fiscal measures?
    • I think there is a point beyond which any number of fiscal or monetary measures may not help much. See the case of Japan? In spite of quantitative easing that it has practised for the last many years, it has not been able to shore up domestic demand.
  • What is 'lemon socialism'?
    • Bradford Delong, one of my favourite authors writes in today's op-ed about this concept. Explaining as to how the US Fed and the Treasury failed in containing the gravity of the present crisis, he says that they ought to have purchased common stock, until the crisis passed, in all those entities which are regarded as too big to fail. Such an acquisition would have been termed 'lemon socialism,' but that would have been more better in retrospect, as doing so would have enabled the Fed and Treasury to avoid or at least lessen the extent of the depression that we are witnessing today.
  • Bank of America announces 35K job cuts
    • It represents about 11% of its work force.
    • The reasons given by it were:
      • Post merger efficiency savings, consequent to merger of Merrill Lynch with it in September.
      • Economic downturn.
  • US Congress fails to clear the bailout package for the auto biggies
    • The three auto biggies in the US -- GM, Ford & Chrysler -- which have asked for a $34 bn bailout package to tide over their current problems, are now facing bankruptices. It may be a matter of time before they opt for declaring bankruptcies. Though the US House of Representatives has passed a $14 bn bailout package, the proposal fell through in the Senate.
      Why should this bother us? Our auto component industry depends to a substantial extent on exports to the US. 27% of its exports go to the US and the three biggies' bankcruptcy would mean unemployment possibility for many of the 4 to 5 mn blue collar workers of our auto component industry.
  • We all owe a lot to Wikipedia
    • Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales was in Chennai to inaugurate Aisa's first Wikipedia Academy. The academy is an idependent training centre to train interested participants in teh methods and ethics of contributing to Wikipedia.
    • Wikipedia is the fourth most used site in the world.
  • Are ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes only for India or the developing world?
    • Even the US, it appears, is not bereft of them. Bernard Madoff, a former Chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market was arrested for allegedly running a $50 bn ponzi scheme. This is reportedly the biggest ever fraud case ever reported in America. He is reported to have ran a hedge fund which had run into $50 bn of fraudulent losses.
  • Lac-test
    • Researchers have identified this test to predict whether a woman is likely to give birth if her waters break early in pregnancy.
    • High levels of lactate in vaginal fluid is strongly associated with onset of labour within 48 hours, according to Swedish researchers.
  • Poznan conference (Poland) on climate change
    • The conference here marks the halfway point in a two-year process, agreed at the UN meeting last December in Bali, that aims to establish a new global deal on climate change by next year's gathering in Copenhagen.
    • There is a parallel EU conference on environment at Brussels.
    • But none of the numbers on the table - the EU's 20% by 2020, the US return to 1990 levels, the Chinese pledge of a 40% reduction in "carbon intensity" (the amount of carbon produced per unit of GDP) - was enough to stave off dangerous climate change.
    • One personality that we need to note in this context is the head of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner.
  • Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi opens to full house
    • Bollywood, which had witnessed a string of box office failures, at last can heave a sigh of relief with this movie making a strong opening.