Politics & the Nation
  • Let's take a look at some expenditure and budget figures relating to VIP security that were reported in the press
    • The NSG (National Security Guards), was set up in 1984 for anti-hijack and anti-terror operations.  It has two wings - the Special Action Group (SAG) the Special Rangers Group (SRG), comprising select men from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and other paramilitary forces. More than half of SRG personnel are deployed for VIP security. NSG was given a budget of Rs. 158 cr.
    • SPG (Special Protection Group) is exclusively meant for providing security to the prime minister, former prime ministers and members of the Gandhi family.  Its budget is about Rs. 180 cr.
    • There are around 400 guarded VIPs in the national capital alone. Around 15,000 Delhi Police personnel out of its strength of 60,000 guard the VIPs, who include ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, judges, religious leaders, lawyers and a few journalists.  An estimate puts the expenditure involved in giving such protection at about Rs. 600 crore.
    • In the light of stellar role played by the NSG in fighting the terrorists responsible for the recent Mumbai carnage, the views expressed by JK Dutt, the NSG Chief about having a separate force meant exclusively for the protection VIPs, are getting lot of press coverage.  Whether his advice will be heeded to by the powers that be, remains to be seen.
  • Himachal Pradesh advocates premarital HIV test
    • Its Chief Minister, PK Dhumal has mooted this idea, taking a cue perhaps from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
    • What's your take on this?  Shoot it away in the shoutbox.
    • Though some may dislike the idea, I would strongly advocate it.
  • PWD Engineer MK Gupta's murder in UP by BSP MLA evokes revulsion
    • A reading of the reports about the way he was tortured and killed, for his refusal to pay donations to Mayawati's birthday celebrations, is evoking revulsion all across the country.  
  • Maharashtra appears to be the first state to come out with a law that will fine the building owners if they fail to maintain the exteriors of their building well
Finance & Economics
  • Consumer durables seem to be doing extremely well from mid December
    • It brings lot of cheer to the economy in general also.  A look at this graphic  gives us the picture.
  • RPL refinery commences production
    • Reliance's petro refinery at Jamnagar commenced production from yesterday.  It has a capacity to refine about 5,80,000 barrels per day.  The existing facility there already refines about 6,60,000 barrels per day.
    • Remember what we noted about this way back on 20.09.2008?  Now this site has become the largest petro refinery in the world.
    • With a Nelson Complexity Index (NCI) of 14, refining margin per barrel is expected to be around $10.  
    • What is this NCI?
      • This is the index through which the level of complexity of a refinery is measured worldwide. Higher the index, higher is the complexity. The complexity signifies the ability of a particular refinery to alter its product-mix in response to the availability of the type of feedstock and also the change in the demand pattern of the finished products. 
      • Want a comprehensive explanation of this term?  Look here.
  • Coffee economics
    • India produces about 2,80,000 tonnes of coffee per annum.
    • Processing one tonne of coffee beans, reportedly generates about 10 semi-skilled jobs.
  • India Maldives sign cooperation treaties
    • India and the Maldives on Wednesday signed two agreements for strengthening bilateral cooperation in aviation sector and extending a 100 million US Dollar standby Credit Facility to the island nation.
    • The agreements were signed in New Delhi after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed.
  • Allegations of sexual abuse against Indian peace keepers in Congo
    • You are all aware that there is an ongoing civil war in Democratic Republic of Congo.  We noted about this in our blogs also.
    • There is MONUC (established in 1999 and that largest peacekeeping mission of the UN), which is part of the UN peacekeepers operating in that country.  It appears that there are allegations against Indian personal serving in that peace mission about sexual abuse of civilians there.
    • Under the UN procedures, it is the countributing country that has to initiate action against them.  The UN on its part, seeks immediate withdrawal of the persons from the mission.  After taking action against the errant people, India will have to inform the UN of the action taken against them.
Science & Technology
  • Heard of Richard Stallman?
    • He is widely regarded as the father of free software.  He advocates the use of license free Linux versions.
    • He was in India a couple of days ago promoting E-Swecha, an Indian version of Linux which was in development by some engineering colleges in Hyderabad for the last one year.
    • BTW Kerala is the state which has been a strong votary of free software.
  • Tennis
    • Remember Rod Laver's achievement?  What is it about?  BTW, he is an Australian.
    • He won the Grand Slam of the French, Wimbledon, US and Australian crowns in one calendar year, twice.  Once in 1962 and then again in 1969.  This is a record that remains unmatched in men's tennis.
  • Ghajni is the top grosser of the year
    • Amir Khan is a happy man.  His film reportedly grossed about Rs. 32 crore on the very first day; thus beating Shah Rukh Khan's RNBDJ and Akshay's Singh is Kinng.
    • One experiment that Amir tried this time is the concept of paid preview.
      • A paid preview is a movie screening at select places before its formal opening at premium charges. Ghajini had over 660 paid previews on Wednesday, pocketing Rs 7 crore in the process. Usually, paid previews only have 100 shows.