Politics & the Nation
  • March 8: International ...?
    • It is that day of the year when we profess our good intentions towards feminine causes, think something about redeeming our pledges and then forget it by the evening.
    • It is the International Women's Day, I am talking about.
    • So, we will not do any of that.  Instead we just note some stark stats for our record:  Today, less than one in ten legislators in parliament or state assemblies in India is a woman. Women accounted for less than 7% of the total MLAs in 28 states and two union territories and little over 9% of the total number of MPs in the last Lok Sabha.
    • It was in 1911 that the very first International Women's Day was observed.  2011 would be marking its centenary.
    • The UN sponsored theme for this year is: Women and men united to end violence against women and girls.
  • Helicopters to get a separate corridor
    • After the recent security breach involving helicopters of President Pratibha Devisingh Patil's entourage and a domestic aircraft, the Civil aviation ministry has decided to build separate corridors at airports for helicopter landing in four major cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. Once these are operational, other cities and airports could also have such a facility. 
    • Reportedly there are around 240 helicopters in the country.  The country is poised to offer helicopter emergency medical services shortly.
Finance & Economics
  • Govt looking at private placement with RBI
    • Why should it invite our attention?  What is the big deal about it?
    • Because it means 'monetising the deficit.'  In simple words: printing money to bridge the budget deficits.  An economist's / ruler's nightmare!!
    • Then why is the government considering this option?  The government’s idea is to raise funds without directly affecting the bond market. Monetising the deficit was routinely resorted to till the government adopted the FRBM Act.  The Act prevents the central bank from directly buying government bonds except in exceptional circumstances, apart from setting limits on deficits in general. 
    • Reportedly the government has not privately placed bonds with RBI since 2002. 
  • Palestinian PM resigns to pave way for reconciliation
    • All of you are aware that Palestine is ruled by two rival factions - the Hamas and Al Fatah.  While the former controls the Gaza strip the latter controls the West Bank.
    • Ever since Israel raided the Gaza strip and ended its seize on January 18, there were expectations among Palestinians that the two factions would come together to enable formation of a national unity government.  To make this process easier, the Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad has resigned.
    • Will the rapprochement happen?
  • Zimbabwe's PM Tsvangirai meets with car accident; loses wife
    • It is really rare for a country's PM to be involved in a car accident.  But that is what happened to Zimbabwe's PM Morgan Tsvangirai.  He lost his wife in the accident and is hospitalized.
    • We have noted his name on more occasions than one for the troubled state of Zimbabwe.  The political feud between the ruling President Robert Mugabe and himself.  The runaway inflation seen in Zimbabwe.  The health crisis flowing out of the cholera epidemic in the country etc.
  • Barbie turns 50 this year!
    • BARBIE, the iconic doll that has claimed countless hours of girls’ lives in a make-believe world that mirrored real life glamour, high-fashion and fabulous careers, is turning 50. 
    • Introduced at a toy fair in New York City on March 9, 1959 as a teenage fashion model, Barbie, whose full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts, cost $3. With her shapely figure, carefully styled pony tail and curly bangs, strapless black and white geometric bathing suit and spiked heels, Barbie was at once an instant rage.
    • Created by Ruth Handler 14 years after she and her husband Elliot started the toy company Mattel Creations, sales of Barbie reached 300,000 the first year. 
    • Sales of Barbie dolls declined 6% in the United States and 28% overseas in the last quarter. 
Science & Technology
  • NASA launches Kepler telescope to search for Earth like planets
    • Launched on Friday, the telescope will orbit the Sun to watch a patch of space thought to contain about 100,000 stars like ours.
    • Equipped with the largest camera ever launched into space, it is the first mission designed to find rocky worlds orbiting Sun-like stars. Planets located in a warm zone - known as the habitable zone - might host liquid water on their surfaces.
    • It is expected to keep observing about 100,000 stars for about 3.5 to 4 years.
    • The spacecraft will be launched into an orbit where it will drift behind Earth as it circles the Sun. This will ensure our planet does not block the stars which need to be observed continuously by the observatory.
  • "Profiles in courage".  By John F. Kennedy.  It won the Pulitzer Prize.
  • Michael Jackson announced his last come back effort
    • Michael Jackson is reported to have agreed to give his last performance in a deal that could see him earning up to $400 mn over a three and a half year period.
    • In spite of all the bad things that we have heard about him, I still love his music.  It is a real pity watching him wither away the way he has for the last so many years.  
    • Jackson and Madonna; what a contrast.  Launched into the music industry almost at the same time, one went on to become the prima donna of music industry and the other was left battling court case after court case and all for wrong reasons.  
    • Let us hope this man will be able to pull it off this time and give to music fans like us what we want to hear.  Good music.  Mesmerizing performances.