Politics & the Nation
  • 1715 candidates try their luck in LS elections in first round
    • As many as 1,715 candidates are in the fray for 124 Parliamentary seats going to polls in the first phase on April 16, though barely 122 of them belong to the fairer sex. Releasing the data, the Election Commission informed that though the average for candidates per constituency was 13.83, Mahboobnagar in AP and Raipur in Chhattisgarh had the highest number of contestants at 32. 
  • Some decent observations worth our attention in the context of perceived indifference shown towards the sensitivities of a certain section of the society in the nomination of communally tainted persons as candidates in the elections:
    • The nomination itself underscores the ritualised acceptance of communalisation in India. And indeed, for some, the very means of political mobilisation. 
    • This institutional failure can hardly be remedied except by envisioning law-enforcement agencies as truly independent of political influence, which in turn can only be firmly established if political practice moves away from competitive identity management. Given some form of such independence, as the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigative Team probing the Gujarat riots of 2002 is displaying, the law can catch up with even high-level leaders behind such massacres.
Finance & Economy
  • Banks seek an end to sup-PLR loans
    • "FACED with a growing corporate demand that banks should fix their prime lending rates (PLRs) at single digits, lenders have asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to scrap the current practice of sub-PLR lending. Bankers argue that since 75% of the loans are disbursed at sub-PLR, doing away with such loans would automatically lower the PLR, which would then serve as a floor rate."  So reads the opening of an article that appeared in today's ET. 
    • This at first appears a little ironic.  It is banks which give these sup-PLR loans in the first place.  How come they are now complaining about them?
    • A sub-PLR loan is a loan which is given at a rate lower than the bank's declared Prime Lending Rate (PLR).  Theoretically PLR is the rate below which a bank states that it will not lend money.
    • Most PSU banks have pegged PLR in the range of 12-12.5%. 
    • In 2001, RBI gave banks the freedom to charge customers interest rates below their benchmark PLRs. While it is not mandatory for banks to give sub-PLR loans, competition is driving them to offer such advances. 
    • Now they are seeking a regulatory ban, so that it will be easier for banks to transit to a more transparent lending system and a singledigit benchmark rate.  Will the RBI oblige them?  Let's wait and see.
  • Loan growth takes a dive!
    • The runaway growth in bank credit seen over the past five years has lost steam, with this year’s loans growth being three-fourth of what was expected by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Besides easing credit, there has been a strong resurgence in deposit growth, raising the prospects of lower interest rates. 
    • According to RBI numbers, total bank credit touched Rs 27,70,012.4 crore as on March 27 — the last reporting Friday for 2008-09. This translates into a credit growth of 17.3% (Rs 4,08,099 crore) over the previous year. 
    • The loan growth has slowed down despite the central bank cutting key lending rates by 400 basis points since the financial crisis in the US in October 2008 without a corresponding cut in lending rates.
  • How do you tackle the present global economic problems?
    • We have been noting about and reading quite a bit on this issue for quite sometime now.  Ever heard of Deepak Chopra?  He is a very well noted personality development guru.  Sometimes referred to as a person belonging to the New Thought movement.  Let's take a look at how he comes up with solutions to the present problems.  
    • The first and foremost difference is in the way he sees reasons.  He feels that there is nothing like a national or local problem anymore.  Problems are always global because they arise from a collective consciousness that is based on the idea of the separate self.  Therefore solutions can also be only global and they come with a transformation of our own thinking.
    • Looks like some sophistry?  Not really; at least for some.  Look at some of his observations and you will agree:
    • The problem is never with the economic system or the ideology. The problem is always with human beings who get intoxicated with wealth and power and corrupt the system whatever it is. Our present global economic crisis is the result of human foibles, cronyism, power mongering, greed, selfishness, corruption and bureaucracy. 
    • Some facts and quotes that are worth noting from his article:
      • Fifty per cent of the world lives on less than $2 a day and 20% on less than a $1 a day and in the last two years the percentage has gone up. 
      • “No problem can ever be solved at the level of consciousness in which it was created” -- Einstein.
      • “Let us be the change we want to see in the world” -- Mahatma Gandhi.
    • Read the full article here.  Worth a read.
  • Inter Country Adoptions and why they are in news
    • Back in 2006 Madonna, the pop star was in news for adopting a child from Malawi.  This time too she is news again, bringing to fore, the issue of child adoption of poor children by people from rich countries.  A court in Malawi this time refused to grant her permission to adopt a three year old girl child.
    • In 2005 Unicef estimated that there were 132 mn children who had lost at least one parent in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Around 13 mn of these had lost both parents, although most of them lived with extended family.
    • These kind of figures should actually relieve the governments that somebody is willing to adopt children; know?  But Governments are uneasy about outsiders adopting their citizens. Why?
      • Examples of abuse, including cases of children who have been abducted or parents who have been coerced or bribed abound. The absence of effective international regulation also allows middlemen to profit from the demand for children to adopt.
    • The Hague Convention on Inter Country Adoptions is intended to regulate international adoptions. It states that these can only go ahead if the parents’ consent, where applicable, has been obtained without any kind of payment or compensation. Costs and expenses can be paid, and a reasonable fee may go to the adoption agency involved, but nothing more. The document is clear: wads of cash may not change hands in return for poor motherless mites.
  • What's the Rwandan genocide about?  We keep hearing about this quite often in international press.
    • The mass-killings began on April 6, 1994, when tribal Hutu militia members attacked their tribal Tutsi countrymen after the plane of then-president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down. Within 100 days, some 800,000 people were murdered.
  • "Yellow Shirts" vs "Red Shirts" in Thailand
    • Read this news report.  You will understand what are these about.
    • Now the "Red Shirts" are stirring up against the government of the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.