Politics & the Nation
  • President of India's brush with near death
    • One of President's VVIP squadron helicopters landed on runway 27 of the Mumbai airport, even as IC-866, the Mumbai Delhi flight of Air India is on the runway cruising at 120-130 knots (222 to 240 km/hr) for takeoff.  
    • An alert ATC which saw that the helicopter landed on the runway, immediately issued abort takeoff orders for the Air India flight.  Had the decision been delayed by 3 seconds or the pilot of the flight had responded with a three second delay, it could have resulted in disaster, as the flight would have crossed the 'decision speed.'
    • Decision speed or V1 is that speed at or below which a takeoff can be safely aborted. Once an aircraft crosses that speed, the pilot has to continue the take-off procedure under any circumstances. Any attempt to brake or halt the aircraft after decision speed is likely to end in a crash as the plane would speed out of the runway. 
    • Though there will be enquiries from various angles into the incident, the President is lucky to have had a providential escape from accident.
Finance & Economics
  • Indian economy poised to grow at 7.1% in the current year
    • According to the estimates released by CSO (Central Statistical Organization) India is likely to witness a growth rate of 7.1% as against the 9.1% achieved in the last fiscal.
    • Though this is far lower than the ballpark figures from various experts, it is still a respectable figure and should be easily regarded as 'scorching' growth in the current global economic scenario.  But two points of great concern are:
      • First, agriculture is projected to grow at just 2.6%, down from 4.9% the previous year. Given that close to 65% of the country’s labour force is dependent on agriculture, a slowdown here means more human distress than what the numbers tell. 
      • Second, manufacturing growth is expected to halve — from 8.2% the previous year, growth is expected to be just 4.1% in 2008-09.
    • Take a look at this figure which gives GDP growth over the last few years.
  • Nuclear bonanza for US companies
    • The government has reportedly promised business worth Rs 100,000 crore ($20 billion) to US companies for supplying nuclear equipment, as it looks to return the favour to Washington for pushing through a civilian nuclear deal that helped end decades of international nuclear apartheid against India last year. 
    • Last week, India signed deals worth Rs 46,000 crore with French companies for the supply of six nuclear reactors. Top French nuclear power company Areva signed a deal with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), which will see it providing technical co-operation for two 1,600 mw European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) for a plant to come up at Jaitapur along the Maharashtra-Konkan coast. The deal worth $10.3 billion is one of the first deals since India’s nuclear apartheid ended last year. 
    • NPCIL currently operates 17 nuclear energy plants that produce close to 4,000 mw of electricity, with work already in progress on another 2,600 mw. India has set itself a target of generating 30,000 mw by way of nuclear power by 2020, and wants to double that by 2030, as it looks to generate clean power to  fuel its energy starved economy.
  • MSME sector's contribution to Indian economy
    • The sector provides employment to over 42 million people and contributes about 45% of the total manufactured output and nearly 40% to exports. 
  • Jerome Kerviel
    • Remember him?  He is the guy that is accused of indulging in unauthorized trades on behalf of Societe Generale, one of the France's biggest banks, that resulted in a loss of $6.4 bn.
    • Read this report.  The world tends to forget incidents which are sensationalized at the time they are discovered.
  • A second Grammy for Zakir Hussain
    • Tabla whiz Ustaad Zakir Hussain was awarded the Grammy in the Best Contemporary World Music Album category for the Global Drum Project. The album also features Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo. This is Hussain’s second Grammy, after 1992, when he won it for Planet Drum.
  • What exactly is meant by the 'odds' in a bet?
    • Bets on an issue are stated as something like 1.53:1.  This is also stated as 'the odds are 1.53."  What this means is that if you bet on an event happening and if you win, you will be given 2.53.  The higher the odds, the least likely is the event to happen.  The lower the odds, the highly likely is the event happening.
    • Take a look at the bets currently going on Slumdog Millionaire's chances of winning Oscars.