Finance & Economics
  • RBI tinkers with repo and reverse repo rates to induce credit expansion
    • The RBI has reduced the repo and reverse repo rates by 25 basis points each, to 4.75% and 3.25%, respectively. Repo is the rate at which RBI lends to banks while reverse repo is the rate at which banks park their surplus money with the central bank. 
    • With banks placing over Rs 1 lakh crore with RBI everyday — the amount of surplus money in the system — a lower return under reverse repo may prompt banks to park less money with the central bank. This measure is expected to make banks lend a slice of the surplus to corporates, individuals and small businesses, to revive a sagging economy. 
    • Look at this figure; it gives you the repo and reverse repo rates since March 31, 2004.
  • Forex reserve management
    • We have deliberated sometime back in our blog as to how are our forex reserves managed.  Where are they invested; how and who is in charge and things like that.  We knew that it is obviously the RBI but the reality is that it is a committee comprising the finance secretary, chief economic advisor and RBI's offices that does this.  This is stated by RBI governor Mr. Subba Rao in an interview.
  • Royalty and Trademark fee limits to be hiked?
    • At present there are ceilings on the royalty or trademark licence fees that can be charged by foreign companies from Indian companies.  In respect of royalties the ceiling is 2% of the revenues generated while in case of trademark licence fee it is 1%.  If any foreign company wants to charge more than these ceilings it has take the prior approval of the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board).
    • Now  the government is reportedly examining a proposal to allow foreign hospitality and technology companies to charge up to 5% of domestic sales as royalty or trademark fee from Indian companies for the use of their brand, trademark or technology. 
    • The move follows demand from several foreign companies, particularly hospitality majors like Hilton International, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. 
  • Telecom additions and density figures
    • India's telcos created a global record by adding 15.64 million new mobile users in March beating its earlier record of signing up 15 million new customers set earlier in January 09. The number of phone connections in the country -- mobile and landline -- has crossed 429 million as of March-end, according to figures released by TRAI. 
    • The robust growth has also helped push the country’s tele-density to 37%. This means, there are 37 phone connections for every 100 people in India. 
    • Total broadband subscribers base has reached 6.22 million by the end of March 2009.
  • An excellent piece from Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar
    • He is very good at explaining complex issues in very simple terms.  This is a judgment which, we are sure all of you will agree, if you read this story.
    • An excerpt: It is now clear that the toxic assets—securities and loans with impaired values — of US banks are $2-2.8 trillion, while tangible assets are only $1 trillion. Technically, the financial sector is comprehensively bust.
  • IMF speak on global financial crisis
    • Worldwide losses tied to rotten loans and securitized assets may reach $4.1 trillion by the end of 2010 as the recession and credit crisis exact a higher toll on financial institutions. 
    • Banks will shoulder about 61% of the writedowns, with insurers, pension funds and other nonbanks assuming the rest.
    • US financial institutions will see a loss of $2.7 trillion, an increase from the earlier estimates of $2.2 trillion in January and $1.4 trillion in October. 
Science & Technology
  • Astrosat
    • India's Astronomy satellite, ASTROSAT, which would facilitate study of a range of astrophysical objects, is likely to be launched in mid-2010, scientists from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) say.
    • ASTROSAT project is a collaborative effort of a number of reserch institutions, including the Mumbai-based TIFR.
    • The Astrosat will be in an equatorial orbit with inclination of about 8 degrees or less. Two star trackers and gyros will be used for the pointing control of the satellite.
    • Orbiting at 600 km above the earth's surface, the ASTROSAT satellite costing about Rs 200 crore, will have a lifespan of at least five years.
    • Astrosat will carry five instruments to observe exotic objects such as black holes, neutron stars, and active galaxies at a number of different wavelengths simultaneously, from the visible and ultraviolet band to energetic x-rays.
    • Once it begins orbiting in the sky, it is capable of gathering 420 gigabits of data every day.
  • Some findings from studies on cervical cancer
    • Despite the claim that cervical cancer is preventable, WHO estimates that each year over 1.30 lakh Indian women are diagnosed with it and over 74,000 lose their lives due to it.
    • This makes cervical cancer the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in India and represents approximately one-fourth of the world's total cervical cancer cases and mortality.
    • The human papillomavirus, also called HPV, was a common pathogen predominantly affecting women. Approximately 80 per cent of women get one or more types of virus by the age of 50.
    • HPV DNA testing is the most effective way to reduce incidence of cervical cancer compared to either Pap (cytology) testing or visual inspection with ascetic acid (VIA).
    • WHO estimates that only about five per cent of women in the developing world have been screened for the cervical disease in the previous five years compared to 40-50 per cent in the developed world.
Language lessons
  • leery: Adjective
    • Openly distrustful and unwilling to confide