Politics & the Nation
  • Arunachal shatters rigging record
    • Arunachal Pradesh (West) Lok Sabha constituency, which went to polls during the first phase on April 16 saw many polling stations in which the voting percentage breached the 100% mark.
    • In several polling booths set up in the Mukto assembly segment, the number of people turning out to exercise their franchise exceeded the total number of registered voters in those booths. It’s interesting to note that many of such booths fell in chief minister Dorjee Khandu’s assembly constituency. 
  • Even terror attacks didn't shake the average Mumabikar into voting
    • As polling came to an end, preliminary reports show barely 45% of the voters cast their vote, down from 47% in 2004. The turnout in South Mumbai, the scene of the terrorist attacks, clocked a shameful 43.3%. 
    • So, our cynicism that the Mumbai attacks also will be forgotten sooner or later and life goes on without much ado after all, is not misplaced.  We expected Mumbai to shake things up this election time.  It appears to have chosen not to.
  • What ails India's preparedness to fight terror?
    • Look at some excerpts from the annual report on global terrorism by the US State Department.  It says that India is one of the world's worst terrorism affected countries.  It suffers from:
    • Outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems;
    • Poorly-trained and poorly equipped police force;
    • Lack of central control to coordinate an effective anti-terror response;
    • Failure in coordination between state and federal forces.
    • No clear unified command structure between state and federal forces in counterinsurgency efforts
  • On Chinese Naval strength
    • The Chinese navy — or the PLA Navy (PLAN) as it is called -- celebrated its 60th anniversary on April 23 off the eastern port city of Qingdao at an impressive international fleet review that was attended by 14 other nations including India.
    • PLAN had its humble origins on April 23, 1949 with the equivalent of discarded wooden hulls and hierarchically subservient to the PLA.  Now it has almost thrice the number of total combat vessels (approx. 630) than Indian Navy has and a personnel strength of 225,000 — five times that of the Indian Navy.
    • The budgetary support is also significantly larger with Beijing having announced a total military budget of $70 billion for 2009, in contrast to India’s total defence outlay of about $26 billion. 
    • In 1961, the Indian Navy had one aircraft carrier and the Chinese Navy was yet to attain any credible blue-water capability.  The Chinese navy today has a credible nuclear submarine fleet of eight boats and has now arrived in the big league. 
Finance & Economy
  • Automobile sales bring cheer
    • Car and two-wheeler sales saw the fifth straight month of growth in April, buttressing evidence that the recovery was no flash in the pan and providing increasingly rare good news for a sector reeling under the threat of global bankruptcies. 
  • Ever heard of Sivasankaran?  He is more popularly known in business cirlces as Siva.
    • See this graphic.  Interesting.
    • This serial entrepreneur is reportedly re-entering telecom space. 
  • Govt. breaches WMA cap
    • Elections and big sops have resulted in a huge mismatch between the Centre’s revenue and expenses, forcing it to borrow Rs 40,000 crore from Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This record borrowing led to the government breaching its limit on the Ways and Means Advances (WMA) account for the second consecutive week. 
    • WMA is a facility with RBI under which governments (central and state) borrow from the central bank to meet revenue mismatches. Unlike the government’s market borrowing, which is long-term in nature, borrowings under WMA are akin to overnight borrowings by banks.
  • Now that the NPS stands extended to the common citizen too, it is time we get a lowdown on the scheme.
  • New coach for Indian Men's Hockey team
    • Spain's master coach Jose Brasa has been appointed as the new chief coach of the Indian men's hockey team.
  • IPL standings as of May 1st, 2009
Language Lessons
  • chutzpah: Noun
    • unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity
    • eg: ...anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning, Slumdog Millionaire will vouch for the city’s chutzpah.
  • fulmination: Noun
    • Thunderous verbal attack