Politics & the Nation
  • An excellent example of a seasoned politician vs. the minnows
    • Look at Pranab Mukherjee's Sri Lanka trip!  The way he has gone about giving two crucial statements puts on display some panache and finesse in conducting foreign affairs and politics.
    • He made it clear that India doesn't hold a brief for LTTE and that it treats it as no different from any other terrorist organization; which is how it should be.  Then he emphasized that Sri Lanka should take all care to ensure that civilian casualties are avoided at all costs.  This should take the wind out of the sails of some of the pro Tamil parties in India.
    • An editorial comment worth our noting in this context:  
      • Colombo must be seen to be able to envisage and deliver a devolution of power to the minorities, including the Tamils. Indeed, it has been the very inability to do that which has led to the institutional disempowerment of the minorities, and which was also a catalyst for the civil strife. 
  • Khusrokhan and Partho Dutta to lead Satyam?
    • Former managing director of Tata Chemicals Homi Khusrokhan and ex-finance director of the Murugappa group Partho Datta are likely to form the top leadership team of fraud-hit Satyam Computer Services, according to reports.
    • Though they don't have direct experience in leading IT companies, they are veterans enough to lead the fraud hit Satyam.  Though they would be handling the CEO and CFO jobs, they may not be so designated to provide them immunity from possible future legal action.  They are likely to be appointed as Directors or advisors of the company.
  • Proof of travel not required for claiming LTA
    • Employers, while assessing the conveyance and leave & travel allowance (LTA) claims of their staff, are under no statutory obligation to collect supporting evidence and furnish them to tax authorities, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday. 
    • According to prevailing rules, if claims on LTA and conveyance are not supported by journey bills, they would be taxed. 
    • "The beneficiary of exemption under Section 10(5) (of the Income Tax Act) is an individual employee. There is no circular of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) requiring the employer under Section 192 to collect and examine the supporting evidence to the declaration to be submitted by an employee(s)” the Court ruled.
  • Many of you raved and ranted about and poured your angst against political corruption in our shoutbox and through mails to me for quite some time.
    • Today's op-ed piece in ET will give you more grist to the mill.  Take a look.  But one excerpt that I couldn't resist from reproducing for our record:
      • In the absence of an institutional method of funding politics, we have the present, alternate method of financing: loot of the exchequer, extortion from the public, corruption of the entire system. The rot runs deep and breaks to the surface occasionally as toxic pistules that may take the shape of a Satyam here or an engineer beaten to death for not coughing up money for a birthday bash, somewhere else. 
Finance & Economics
  • Fuel prices reduced
    • Petrol price was reduced by Rs. 5 and diesel price by Rs. 2.  LPG prices were reduced by Rs. 25 for the 14.2 kg cylinder.
    • The price cut is expected to tame inflation and boost demand in the economy. 
Sports: Australian Open
  • Serena makes it to the finals
    • She beat Elena Dementieva in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to reach the finals.
Language lessons
  • schoolmarmish
    • Resembling a schoolmarm; prim and strict.  A schoolmarm is a woman schoolteacher (especially one regarded as strict).
  • John Updike
    • This American writer in prose, is noted for his many works including "The Windows of Eastwick."  His writing have always been characterized by a sharp observation of American life.  One of his famous utterances about America is that it "is a conspiracy to make you happy."
    • Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom was the name Updike gave to American angst. A carefree character always trying to succeed while dealing with marriage and infidelity, wealth and health; almost a postwar child never quite able to understand and meet the demands of his own children.