Politics & the Nation
  • The rich outnumber the poor in India?
    • In a study that is sure to raise the eyebrows of many an observer, NCAER's senior fellow Rajesh Shukla comes out with this startling finding.
    • His study predicts that the size of high-income homes — with an annual household income (AHI) of more than Rs 2.85 lakh — will rise to 46.7 million in 2009-2010 , overtaking the number of poor households at 41 million. The NCAER study pegged AHI for poor homes at less than Rs 71,000.
    • Medium-income households with AHI between Rs 71,000 and Rs 2.85 lakh are forecast to rise to 140.7 million in 2009-10, up from 138.4 million in 2008-09. 
    • Take a look at this graphic to get a picture of what he is saying.
  • One more recap of the facts leading to CBI probe in the SNC-Lavalin case
  • Ashok Chakra awardees
    • The Ashoka Chakra (military equivalent is Param Vir Chakra) is awarded to any individual, uniformed or civilian, for the most conspicuous bravery, or some act of daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice otherwise than in the face of the enemy.  This is the highest peacetime gallantry award that is conferred in the country.  Next is the Kirti Chakra.  
    • The Ashoka Chakra is awarded to former Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare, the seniormost officer to be killed during 26/11, and assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havaldar Gajender Singh Bisht of National Security Guard, who died in Taj Mahal Hotel and Nariman House encounter, Senior Mumbai Police officers Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar, Colonel Jojan Thomas and Havaldar Bahadur Singh Bohra of the Army, who died in fighting terrorists in J&K, Delhi Police inspector M C Sharma, who died in the Jamia Nagar encounter, R P Diengdoh of Meghalaya Police and Pramod Kumar Satapathy of Orissa Police.
Finance & Economics
  • Why are bailouts of private companies bad, when they are acceptable for banks?
    • Take a look at this reasoning given by no less a person than the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission:
    • Bailouts in the case of banks are not uncommon but the circumstances are very different.  These are regulated institutions, which take deposits from the public.  There is some presumption on the part of the public that the regulator has ensured the adherence of procedure.  All these factors justify government interventions.  A private company producing goods and services, competing in a competitive market cannot be treated on the same plank as banks.
  • Unity in diversity
    • I am sure many of you would have read a bit about it and perhaps even written a bit about it either as part of your academic pursuits or otherwise.
    • Take a look at this excellent piece penned by Rama Bijapurkar, one of the leading market analysts in India today.  Brings a different perspective to the subject.
  • Mobile number portability regime
    • The government had approved MNP in late-2007 and said the facility would be introduced in the four metros by the second half of 2008. Since then, implementation of MNP has missed several launch dates. Number portability has so far been introduced in countries like Australia, Korea, Japan, Canada, the US, the UK, most of Europe and Pakistan. According to reports, its introduction has been followed by up to 20-50% subscribers switching operators in some of these countries. 
    • Now the government has invited bids for implementing the MNP regime.
  • What is the Monroe doctrine?
    • Formulated in 1823, it proclaimed all of Latin America to be a zone of exclusive American interest.
    • But now, it is felt that globalization and dynamic changes in the economies and politics of its countries is providing Latin America with an opportunity to decrease the scope of its dependency on the United States, and thus to renegotiate, on better terms, its hitherto asymmetric relations with its giant northern neighbor.
  • A bit of history about social security measures
    • Social Security became law in 1935 in the US.
    • Older Americans gained universal health-care coverage with Medicare in 1965.  Even with this, the elderly in the US are finding it necessary to pay for a grater percentage of their overall medical bill.
  • Slumdog Millionaire bags the PGA
    • The Producers Guild award is considered an important bellwether for the Oscar success, as its members make up an important constituency of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars. In its first 19 years, 12 of the PGA’s top film picks went on to win the Academy Award for best picture, including last year’s champion “No Country for Old Men”, although the producers missed the mark for three straight years starting in 2005. 
  • Can you imagine a politician who defends drugs for the sake of maintaining law and order?
    • I was surprised to know that President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras has called for the legalization of drug consumption as a means to end the violence related to its production and trafficking.
    • Such is the exasperation in South America with violence that politicians appear to be giving up on hope to contain the violence.
Language lessons
  • nous
    • Noun: Common sense.
      • eg: she has great social nous.  His bureaucratic nous...