Politics & the Nation
  • Record additions in mobile telephone connections
    • About 15.26 mn additional subscribers were added in January in the country.  
    • With this, the total number of telephone connections in India crossed the 400 million mark at the end of January, reaching 400.05 million compared to 384.79 million at the end of December. 
    • In the process, overall tele-density was pushed up to 34.5% from 33.2% in December.
  • Judge Soumitra Sen of Calcuatta HC facing impeachment
    • Fifty-eight Rajya Sabha MPs have sought the removal of Calcutta HC judge Soumitra Sen. 
    • It is only the second time that an impeachment motion against a judge has been brought to Parliament. In 1991, an impeachment motion was initiated against Supreme Court judge V Ramaswamy for misuse of office as the judge of the Punjab and Haryana HC. But it was defeated as ruling Congress MPs voted against the motion brought by opposition MPs. 
    • Unlike in the case of Justice Ramaswamy this time the proceedings have been initiated in the Rajya Sabha. This means that the move would remain valid even after the Lok Sabha elections.
    • The provisions of constitution relating to removal of judges: Article 217 (removal of an HC judge); Article 124 (removal of an SC judge) 
  • Former Union Minister Sukh Ram convicted by CBI court
    • In the disproprtionate assets case in which he was accused of amassing Rs. 4.25 crore the trial court has convicted him, 13 years after the charges were first levelled.  Look at the timeline:
    • Aug 16, 1996: CBI recovers Rs 2.45 crore from Sukh Ram’s Delhi residence at 12, Safdarjung Lane and Rs 1.16 crore from his Mandi home in HP 
    • Aug 27, 1996: FIR filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act 
    • Sep 18, 1996: Sukh Ram arrested by CBI, gets bail a month later 
    • Jun 9, 1997: Trial court frames corruption charges 
    • Nov 6, 2004: Former PM Narasimha Rao records his testimony 
    • Feb 20, 2009: Court convicts Sukh Ram. 
    • Sentencing due on Feb 24
Finance & Economics
  • Government mulling diesel price reduction?
    • This is what is being contemplated if newspaper reports are to be believed.
    • The government slashed pump price of petrol by Rs 5 a litre, diesel by Rs 2 a litre and cooking gas by Rs 25 per 14.2 kg cylinder on January 28. Last December, prices of petrol and diesel were reduced by Rs 5 a litre and Rs 2 a litre respectively. The latest proposal, which is still in discussion stages, involves cutting the price of diesel by Rs 2-3 a litre. 
    • Reportedly the profit margin for refiners on diesel now stands at Rs 4.45 a litre, giving the government enough cushion to cut prices. 
    • Currently, OMCs are losing Rs 11.25 on the sale of PDS kerosene (sold through fair price shops) and Rs 74.53 on every cylinder of cooking gas. But the margin is positive on petrol (by 0.03 a litre) and diesel.
  • Reported job losses causing lot of unease
    • A sample survey conducted by Labour Bureau reportedly pointed out that about 5 lakh jobs were lost in the country during September-December 2008.
    • This has prompted the stand-in Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to state that jobs should be protected at all costs; even at the cost of paying less salary.
    • While that is the most sensible suggestion that should be pursued in the current difficult times, it will no doubt be less palatable for some.
  • FDI in aviation set for some rejig?
    • The aviation scene in the country is making the government do a rethink on the FDI policy relating to the sector.  All the airlines are bleeding and the sector could likely suffer a combined loss of Rs 10,000 crore in the current fiscal.
    • Most Indian carriers are already sitting on a significant debt and raising additional resources may not be easy in the prevailing conditions.
    • Therefore a policy rejig on FDI norms for the aviation sector looks possible.
    • Current regulations don’t allow foreign carriers to hold equity, either directly or indirectly, in domestic airlines. India only allows foreign investors other than airlines to own up to 49% in an airline company.  Government may now bite the bullet and allow some relaxation here.
Language lessons:
  • inured: adjective & verb
    • adjective: Made tough by habitual exposure
    • verb: Cause to accept or become hardened to; habituate
    • eg: The vast majority of the Indian public, despite being inured to alltoo-frequent scenes of outrageous behaviour by our elected leaders in state legislatures...