Politics & the Nation
  • “There never was a good war or a bad peace” - Benjamin Franklin
    • Isn't it time for us (India and Pakistan) to remember this saying?
  • J&K election results
    • It is a hung house.  Total seats at stake: 87.  NC won maximum seats: 28.  PDP won 21, Congress 17 and BJP 11.  Others 10.  
    • NC is set to form the government with Congress help.  But it is BJP's showing which is surprising.  Is it an indication that voting was on communal lines?
    • It is the Congress which is the clear king maker now in J&K.
  • Am I also looking more like an enthusiastic ET journo?  I don't know.  But the fact is, I can't just get enough of high profile interviews.
    • Especially the ones that are conducted by another equally tall personality.  Take a look at this interview  by Kumar Mangalam Birla with Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE.
    • The most striking part of this interview is the India centric thinking that GE appears to have developed.
Finance & Economics
  • What is 'portability' in insurance parlance?  Especially in medical insurance?
    • It means that an insured is able to carry his track record with him, when he dicides to migrate from insurance company to another. In other words, if a health policy covers pre-existing ailments only after four years and a policyholder decides to shift to another company in the fourth year, he will get immediate coverage of pre-existing ailments and will not have to wait another four years. 
    • Another advantage is, if there is a no claim bonus for earlier years, it can be carried forward to the new policy. Today, some companies have a cumulative no claim bonus where the sum insured increases by 5% for every claim-free year, while some products do not have any bonus facility. 
  • What is the contribution of the services sector to our GDP?
    • 63%.  Some of the components that come under the services sector:  IT, railways, media & entertainment, education and training services, organised retail,air passenger traffic, fixed-line subscribers and insurance segments.
  • A light-hearted spoof on Ben Bernanke by Mythili Bhusnurmath.
    • Look here.  An interesting and light read.
  • All of us do look at news.  Bad news affects us badly and usually crowds out good news.  
    • Here is a call from one of my favourite authors, Jeffrey Sachs arguing how we should not let bad news overtake the good news.  The instances of good news or good work that is being carried out and cited by him, across the world are too many to be listed here.  So, strongly recommend a read of his article.
  • Can deep rate cuts revive the economy?
    • Economists rarely ever give a straight forward answer to a question that we pose them.  True to their style, two of the experts today suggest that they could; provided a prudent and judicious mix of expansionary monetary policy with a fiscal policy where public investment provides a strong complementarity to the private sector.
    • One of them sees brighter prospects of India from the second half of 2009 because the World would be looking at investing in India's infrastructure requirements.  
    • This debate is a worthy read.  Do so here.  
  • A subtle change in India's disposition towards Israel's strikes in Gaza
    • Most of you might have noted the Gaza strikes by Israel, which resulted in about 280 deaths in the last couple of days.
    • India's reaction this time to the strikes was cool.  Earlier it used to lambast the Israeli action; but now it says that it is aware of the cross-border provocations that resulted in Israeli action.
    • What could this subtle change hold for the future?  Is it paying the Arab and the Muslim world in its own coin?  Have their open support to the Islamic militancy in India and support for the secessionist cause in J&K, driven it to change its policy?
  • Wall Street licks its wounds as we enter the New Year.  
    • The market’s most-tracked benchmark, the S&P 500, is down 40.6% since last year’s close with only three trading days left in 2008. Given the market’s hair-trigger volatility this year, that’s just one bad day away from surpassing 1931’s 47.1% drop, the biggest yearly decline ever.  
    • A record $7.3 trillion (as much as half of US annual GDP) of stock market value has been obliterated this year.  
  • India's stand on reforming and restructuring the World Bank and IMF
    • Our stand is that countries having current account surpluses should have greater say in the affairs of these bodies, so that they could bring in more capital. A higher capital base would help these multilateral sovereign institutions to borrow more from the market, which could be used to help countries struggling through the global economic crisis.  
    • One other key criteria for reworking the shareholding of individual members should be individual countries’ contribution to the global economy based on their purchase power parity. By this measure, India is ranked 4th in the world, after US, Japan and China.  However, if the GDP figures are not adjusted for inflation, then India ranks 12th in the world.
    • India ’s current quota in IMF is a special drawing right (IMF’s own currency) of 4,158.20 million in its total quota of SDR 213 billion, representing a share holding of 1.91 %. The US has a voting right of 16.8% in IMF. In the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a World Bank group institution, India has a voting power of 2.78%, while in International Development Association, another WB group body, India has a voting power of 3.19%.
  • Remember our earlier notings on 08.12.2008 about e-waste?  
    • India generated 3.3 lakh tones e-waste in 2007. 
    • Waking up to the problem, the ministry of environment and forests came out with guidelines early this year on safe disposal of e-waste. The guidelines focus on end-producer responsibility, restriction of hazardous substances (ROHS), best practices of recycling. 
    • Now companies, especially hardware companies are waking up to this problem and are reportedly going green by launching environment friendly products.  Take a look at this article which gives the efforts being put in by industry into tackling e-waste.