Politics & the Nation
  • A very good article on why Hindutva is anti-development.
    • A must read.  Do so here.  Some excerpts for our keeps:
    • Definition of Hindutva: Hindutva is, of course, completely different from Hinduism, the highly eclectic, diverse, polytheistic religion and culture followed by 80% of all Indians. Hindutva seeks to unify Hindu society on the basis of hostility towards non-Hindus and redefine Indian nationhood in a way that would make religious minorities second class citizens. 
    • Unleashing human creativity is true development. And this can be achieved only by ending oppression, empowerment of the disempowered to acquire the wherewithal of new creation: knowledge, health, security, material infrastructure. Freedom and development are thus intertwined. Freedom is indivisible — chained as the slave is, at the other end of the same chain is the master, hobbled by having to contain the slave. 
    • There is no development possible for the vast majority of Hindus while non-Hindus are kept unfree. Empowerment of the disempowered does not take place by community. Communal division only disrupts the subaltern solidarity needed to break out of unfreedom. This is why Hindutva is anti-development.
Finance & Economy
  • The case for government chipping in with the cost of NPS record maintenance
    • In view of the fact that the maintenance charges are perceptibly high, a case is being made for government to bear these charges, at least for people from the unorganized sector.  This would be a welcome step.
    • The justificiation for this arises out of the fact that under the Employees Provident Fund Organisation’s (EPFO) pension scheme, the government contributes 1.16% of employees’ salary to the pension fund. 
    • An estimated 8 crore people are eligible to join the NPS. 
    • This may be an issue which the new government will have to decide quickly for NPS to become popular.
  • From cash to accrual based accounting system
    • THE government will in five years shift to a new accounting system for its annual financial statements, where transactions are recorded in the books even if cash changes hands later. 
    • Accrual-based accounting brings more clarity and transparency in the government’s financial health by showing ‘hidden’ assets and liabilities. For example, the future liability to redeem oil bonds issued to state-run firms currently does not get reflected in the fiscal deficit figure, though the Centre recently began disclosing the figure separately. 
    • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) plans to move from cash to accrual basis accounting in government within a five-year time frame.
    • The accounting bodies have welcomed the move.
  • This is one distinction of China, that India can do without
    • China produces 42% of all the cigarettes in the world and has 350 million regular smokers, 56% of them male. 
  • Are the Indo US ties taking a downward trajectory?
    • A statement made by Mr. Obama, the US President about US companies getting tax benefits for jobs created in Bangalore, has set the cat among pigeons .. sort of.
    • Now comes one more on NPT.  That the US wants India, Israel, N. Korea and Pakistan to sign the NPT.  While India's stand on NPT is well known and has weathered successive changes in government -- it has acquired almost a bipartisan support here -- clubbing India with the likes of North Korea and Pakistan is sure to raise many a hackle here.
    • New Delhi will surely have some sleepless nights in this regard.
  • Where was the oldest patch of ground discovered?
    • Israel.  Scientists discovered the oldest patch of ground on Earth in Israel's Negev Desert.  It remained the same as it was 1.8 mn years ago.  The ground is reportedly an expanse of 'desert pavement.'
    • Most of the earth’s surface is constantly, if not always rapidly evolving. But, an unusual feature of deserts, which have little tectonic activity and have terrain that’s resistant to their hot, dry weather, is that large surfaces of ground can remain virtually the same for millions of years.
Language lessons
  • cavil
    • Noun: An evasion of the point of an argument by raising irrelevant distinctions or objections
    • Verb: Raise trivial objections
    • eg: ...So why should one cavil about Hindutva in terms of development?

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