Politics & the Nation
  • Satyam implodes
    • This troubled software services company has delivered a big blow to India Inc.  To an extent it even made a dent to India's image.
    • In a 5-page letter, detailing years of financial chicanery, Satyam chief Ramalinga Raju owned up responsibility and put in his papers. The shame and scandal has stunned India, and left lakhs of investors and 53,000 staffers out in the cold.  Even as Govt and regulators are planning joint action, there is much that will happen in the days to come.
    • US based investors may file a class action suit.  The AP government has announced a CBCID enquiry.  SEBI, the Finance Ministry, Registrar of Companies and ICAI have all announced various enquiries into the financial deception resorted to by Satyam over the years.  
    • It will be nothing short of a miracle if the company remains in its present form in the months to come.
    • The scandal is sure to bring lot of disrepute to PwC, the firm which had been its auditor for years.  It was just a couple of days ago that we noted the size of PwC in our blog.  
    • The issue is sure to hog the headlines for weeks to come.  Let's keep a tab on the developments.
    • Take a look at this graphic which gives glimpses into some of the biggest accounting scandals that happened in India.
    • TT Ram Mohan's suggestions on revamping corporate governance deserve a read in this context.  Take a look.
  • Shibu Soren loses by-election
    • Reportedly he had lost the election by about 9000 seats.  He contested the Tamar seat for staying as CM of Jharkhand.  Soren became Chief Minister in August last year and needed to be elected to the state assembly within a six month period that ends on Feb 27.
  • Some of the practices resorted to by CIA include:
    • rendition: the snatching of suspected terrorists abroad, who were then sent to prison camps in third countries in the Middle East and eastern Europe for interrogation and torture.
    • waterboarding: making the detainee believe he is suffocating or drowning
    • Do you have any take on Human Rights in US?  Is the UNHRC as vocal as it would be, if things like these happen in a developing country like India?
Political Science
  • What are the three tests that a war must pass, for it to be justified?
    • A country must first have exhausted all other means of defending itself. 
    • The attack should be proportionate to the objective. 
    • And it must stand a reasonable chance of achieving its goal. 
  • On all three of these tests the Israel onslaught on Gaza is on shakier ground than it cares to admit.
  • Human death due to avian influenza reported in China
    • A Chinese woman has reportedly died out of infection from H5N1 strain of the virus that causes avian influenza.
    • Human infections with H5N1 peaked in 2006, when 115 cases -- 79 of them fatal -- were reported to the WHO. In 2008, there were 40 cases of human infection with H5N1, leading to 30 deaths -- a tiny number compared with the death toll from ordinary flu. Avian influenza is highly dreaded.  If it infects humans, it spreads very fast and almost always results in high mortality.
  • US budget deficit to shoot beyond $1 trillion?
    • This is what Obama expects as he prepares to take office on January 20th.
    • BTW do you remember the fiscal year followed by US?  It is October to September.
    • We noted about this way back in March 2008.
  • An Indian to head the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps?
    • It is widely reported in the media that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's Chief Medical Reporter is tipped for the post of Surgeon General of the US Public Health Service Commissioner Corps.
    • He is reportedly considering giving a response to the Obama team in a couple of days about his acceptance.
    • Do you know why he should be considered a celebrity?  He reportedly makes anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 per speaking assignment.  BTW do you know his age?  He is just 39!  What a job at such a young age, eh?
  • Macworld related news
    • Many of you may know that Macworld is an annual jamborie of the Mac lovers.  Usually the keynote is delivered by Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple and Mac's God.
    • But this year, he missed out on it because of a reported health problem -- harmonal imbalance.
    • I am sure many of you own iPods and are users of iTunes.  One interesting snippet about music downloads.  
      • Consumers bought a record 1.07 billion music downloads last year, according to research firm Nielsen SoundScan, but those gains failed to offset the nearly 20% drop in traditional album sales.
      • Apple reportedly is set to offer music in DRM free (Digital Rights Management) format from April.
  • Who is a dyscalculic?
    • One who suffers from dyscalculia.  Then what is meant by this latter term?
    • The term is often used to refer specifically to the inability to perform arithmetic operations, but it is also defined by some educational professionals and cognitive psychologists as a more fundamental inability to conceptualize numbers as abstract concepts of comparative quantities (a deficit in "number sense").