Politics & the Nation
  • India decides to buy P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft from the US
    • It is a step towards securing the country’s rather long coastline.  The deal is worth $2.1-billion.
    • The deal provides for purchase of 8 of these aircraft from Boeing.
  • Hacking software even for personal use to be an offence under the copyright act?
    • The government is reportedly planning to introduce a legislation empowering software makers in their fight against the sale of unauthorised copies of their products, as it looks to crack down on rampant piracy in the country. Nearly three-fourths of the software used in the country is reported to be pirated software.
    • An amendment to the Copyright Act, which will be introduced in Parliament later this year, will make it illegal to break the security code of all kinds of software from operating systems and games to multimedia players.  The amendment empowers software makers to take swift action when someone tampers with the security features of their software that needs an online validation of the license to use. The software sends an alert to its producer who can track down the culprit. 
    • Offering this form of enforcement right is essential for India to be part of an international agreement called the Madrid Protocol, which will allow anyone from its 70 member nations to get copyright protection for his work in any other nation. 
Finance & Economy
  • SingTel is the most valued MNC in India
    • It holds about 30% of Bharti Airtel.  It has now become the most valued MNC operating in India by virtue of this holding in Airtel.
    • There are many MNCs which are not listed.  Like IBM, Microsoft, Nokia, Coke, Pepsi etc.
    • Look at this graphic for the top MNCs by valuation in India.
  • I think it is time we all recognize that the monetary authority and the fisc have done a pretty good job of stimulating the economy.  But what is it that the private sector doing?  Or should do?
      • First of all, organisations should hold on to people…retrain, redeploy, re-wage, but do not lay-off! 
      • Secondly, reduce prices substantially and immediately wherever possible. A 20-25% drop in prices would initially appear to contract the economy. In fact, it will result in a boost in real spending, start fuelling investment and spur sustainable growth. 
      • Thirdly, let competitors, consumers, suppliers and other stakeholders know what you are doing transparently and, understanding the bigger picture, collaborate much more strongly. 
      • Fourthly, innovate — fast! This is the secret of all step-change in demand growth and wealth-creation. Finding a different way, a better way is more important than ever, not cutting down innovation spends as many seem to be doing. 
  • Want a discourse on why oil prices are falling?
    • This is one piece which gives a reasonably good one at that.  But I still feel that there is more to it than what is fathomable by us.
    • In short he says that there are three reasons: commodity speculation, recession in the US, Europe and Japan and the economic slowdown in Asia, and dollar depreciation.   We can even add to them, the OPEC cartel's behaviour.
    • Whenever there is a reversal of these trends, either in unison or separately, we don't witness any rally in oil prices.  Speculation was blamed both for its price rise and now for its decline.  Even when the economies were doing well, there were times when oil prices tumbled.  Dollar is not depreciating at present in a substantial way against all the major currencies.  What we are seeing at best can be described as volatility.  And lastly, OPEC.  Though it's too early to sing its obituaries, its diktats have not been able to decide the crude price movements.
    • So what explains this free fall?  As of now, clueless.  Let's await the arrival another economic messiah who will be able to explain this.
  • An unconventional weapon to fight an unconventional enemy
    • Now chillies to fight pachyderms and terrorists.  A snippet in today's ET reports that the Naga chilli or bhoot jolokia in Assamese, is to be used to scare away the marauding elephants that have wreaked havoc in many parts of North East.  The chilli pepper grows mostly in Assam.  It shot into fame when DRDO developed a non-lethal grenade from it that could be used in anti-terrorist operations.  Now efforts are on to develop a powder that could be coated on fences and ropes to scare away wild elephants.