Politics & the Nation
  • What a candid admission from the PM!
    • He is reported to have admitted that the “natural party of governance” vanity that is still being nursed by the Congress has been preventing it from conceding that the break up with the SP, RJD and the LJP will go against the party’s immediate political interests. 
    • He seems to be seeing some writing on the wall.  Is it cause for the BJP to cheer up?  But it too seems to have been caught in a trap of its own.
    • Then, is the country headed for a hung Parliament?
  • NPPA to start consumer awareness campaign on drugs
    • The NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) of India is reported to be starting a consumer awareness campaign about drug pricing and availability of low-cost off-label drugs.
    • The campaign will be targeted at making consumers aware of the differential pricing of similar drug formulations with a view to bring down their healthcare costs.
    • NPPA Chairman: AK Banerjee
  • Umbrella body proposed to resolve health cover woes
    • A common body for addressing health insurance related grievances for all stakeholders and detecting fraud has been propoesd by the SB Mathur committee.
    • This committee has been set up by the IRDA (Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority) to examine the role of the TPAs (Third Party Administrators) in the health insurance market and to evaluate their performance.  
    • This entity is expected to take up issues that are plaguing the health-cover sector, iron out differences of opinions among various stakeholders and solve instances of fraud.
Finance & Economy
  • EU Pledge
    • Ever heard of this one?  
    • It is about some 11 odd companies, which account for more than half of the F&B (Food & Beverages) advertisement spend in Europe, deciding to stop running ads targeting children on television, print and the internet, and selling junk food such as chocolate, chips and cola in primary schools. 
    • In India, HUL, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kellogg’s met recently to reinforce their commitment to the cause.
    • The Indian pledge will take a concrete shape later this year. The objective is to adopt self-regulatory measures and reinforce codes of conduct to children on a common ground. 
    • According to a study published by the International Journal of Paediatric Obesity, 10% children in Europe will be obese by 2010, owing to changes in diet and decrease in physical activity. The Asian average could triple to 5.3% from 1.5%. In the Middle East, the figure is expected to rise to 11.5% while in North and South America, the obesity levels could increase to 15.2%. 
  • RBI tweaking the accounting rules for lenders.
    • It relaxed the provisioning norms for restructured loans. A loan is restructured when a corporate finds it difficult to service the loan interest, or fails to repay the money it borrowed. 
    • For arriving at the provisioning number, banks have to calculate the ‘fair value’ (FV) of a loan, which factors in future flow of income that would be generated by the loan. The erosion in fair value, under the rules, is computed as the difference between the fair value before and after restructuring. 
    • Now RBI has said banks can compute the fair value of a loan prior to restructuring on the basis of the actual interest rate that is charged to customers.
  • CAR strength to decide PSB mergers
    • Public Sector Banks with a low capital adequacy ratio may be merged with the ones which have high CAR to ensure that there is no strain on the capital of that particular bank.  This is one proposal submitted by the CFSA (Committee on Financial Sector Assessment) that found favour with the government.
    • CAR is the ratio of capital that a bank has to keep aside before extending any loan that has risk attached to it.
    • There were 11 PSBs with CAR below the mandatory 12% as on September 30, 2008 
    • All PSBs have CAR above 9%, the level pre-scribed under the Basel-II norms 
    • Government has approved infusion of funds in Central Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and Uco Bank to improve CAR 
    • Corporation Bank and Allahabad Bank raised capital on their own to up CAR levels
  • The Satyam scam has forced people to think of various alternatives to the internal audit procedures in companies
    • How far companies can remain 'fair' to the internal audit function?  Can they be trusted at all for their mere setting up internal audit procedures?  What needs to be done?
    • Is it time for companies to outsource this function to ensure transparency?  If so, what are the pitfalls that such a system will have?  What can be done to overcome them?
    • These are the questions for which you will find excellent answers in today's op-ed piece "A new risk frontier" by Nitin Bhat .  Well worth a read.
  • Cause for cheer on the FDI front
    • Despite the global financial crisis, inflow of foreign capital to the country has increased sharply in 2008.  The aggregate inflow of FDI has more than doubled in 2008 over 2007.  Not only this, aggregate inflow of FDI has increased more than 9 times during the last five years from Rs. 14,781 crores in 2004 to Rs. 1,39,725 crores in 2008.  What are the reasons?
      • Improved macro fundamentals in recent years
      • Opening up of new areas and changes in government policy towards FDI
  • Pakistan ups the ante against India
    • Now it says that it sees Indian hand in Lahore attacks.
    • A month after saying that there is no link whatsoever with India in the Lahore attack on Sri Lankan players, Pakistani establishment now comes up with the theory that there is evidence of Indian involvement in the attack that killed eight people and injured several others, including six Sri Lankan cricketers.
    • This is its act, even as British police hinted that major terrorist plots in UK were hatched in Pakistan.  
    • Perhaps it is time, the world recognizes that Pakistan is a failed state a la Somalia and Afghanistan.  Something should be done about renegades like North Korea and such failed states collectively by the international community.
Language lessons
  • eyetooth: Noun
    • One of the four pointed conical teeth (two in each jaw) located between the incisors and the premolars
  • evisceration: Noun
    • Surgical removal of an organ (or the contents of an organ) from a patient; Altering something (as a legislative act or a statement) in such a manner as to reduce its value
    • eg: ... the ubiquitous evisceration of genuine secularism, all make the world’s largest democracy not quite so democratic...
  • egregious: adjective
    •  Conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible