Politics & the Nation
  • The top three slots of the UPSC exam results belong to women!!
    • What a feat!  
    • 1.  Shubhra Saxena from Ghaziabad 
    • 2.  Sharandeep Kaur Brar from Chandigarh 
    • 3.  Kiran Kaushal from Raipur
    • All the best to them.
  • Nepal plunges into political crisis
    • The Maoist Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. Prachanda had put in his papers following President Ram Baran Yadav's move asking the army chief General Rukmangad Katawal to continue in office, in spite of his sacking by the Prime Minister.
    • Mr. Prachanda was quick to precipitate a political crisis by resigning.  He put the blame for it on reactionary forces and of course India.
    • The crisis arose out of the army's refusal to accept in its fold about 19000 Maoist guerillas.  The Nepali army feels that these are 'indoctrinated' people who cannot be absorbed into armed forces. But the Prime Minister feels that this is one issue on which the nation gave his party the mandate.
    • Till the time fresh elections are held and a clear majority is won by either side, Nepal may continue to simmer.
  • Rakesh Mohan quits RBI
    • One of the Deputy Governors of RBI and a very senior economic policy maker of the country, he is quitting RBI to take up a teaching assignment with Stanford University.
    • Read this story.  His CV looks very impressive.
Finance & Economy
  • Recommendations of the expert committee on spectrum allocations
    • Existing operators to receive start-up spectrum (4.4MHz for GSM and 2.5MHz for CDMA) when it becomes available, but in future universal access service (UAS) licence must not promise any spectrum. 
    • Government to junk the controversial subscriber-linked method and allocate extra spectrum to existing operators only through auctions. 
    • Those allocated extra spectrum after January 17, 2008 must pay an upfront charge derived from the 3G auction. This is to ensure that all the current operators are kept on par. 
    • Further, all new licensees must obtain even the start-up spectrum in an auction. 
    • A more liberal M&A regime to ensure that operators are able to consolidate towards a more viable industry. 
    • Spectrum allotted without an upfront charge could be transferred/merged in any quantity for a transfer fee, but subject to the condition that no operator has more than 25% of the total assigned spectrum in a circle. No such transfer fee is proposed to be levied on spectrum acquired through auction. This would ensure better utilisation of spectrum and greater participation in auctions and thereby more revenue for the government. 
    • UAS licences to be perpetual but spectrum reverts to the government at the end of the licence period. However, to ensure continuity the licensee surrendering spectrum has the first right of refusal subject to its agreeing to the fee fixed by the government, which is to be linked to the most recent auction.
  • PMO gives "No" to telecom fee cut
    • The prime minister’s office (PMO) has shot down the decision of the communications ministry to slash the licence fee for telecom operators with large networks by up to a third, saying the ministry did not obtain the Cabinet’s clearance before announcing the cut. 
    • At present, telcos pay 10% of their revenues as licence fee in category ‘A’ circles (Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, among others) 8% in ‘B’ zones (Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, among others) and 6% for ‘C’ circles (Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa, among others). As per last year’s announcement, these would have come down to 8%, 6% and 4% for operators with networks covering over 95% of the residential areas in a circle. 
  • NIF to get a decent burial?
    • Looks like so going by the current state of financial affairs.  With the fiscal deficit hovering over 10% of the GDP, this would appear a sensible move.  Read this story to get a lowdown on the issue.
  • Nano is a great hit
    • Logs 2 lakh bookings and garners Rs. 2,500 crores in application money for the Tatas.
    • Read this story for full details.
  • Contribution of agriculture to global GHG emissions
    • Agriculture contributes about 14 % of annual GHG emissions, and land-use change, including forest loss, contributes another 19 % with the developing world accounting for about 50% of agricultural emissions and 80 % of land-use change and forestry emissions.