Politics & the Nation
  • The significance of May 13
    • It is not just the last day of election this time.  Look at this day's significance in history:
    • 1648: Construction of Red Fort was completed.
    • 1846: US declared war on Mexico.
    • 1864: Battle of Resaca in the American Civil War started on this day.
    • 1940: Germany began its conquest of France.
    • 1998: India carried out two nuclear tests, two days after the first three were tested.
  • Can you spot the difference between a regional party and a regionalist party?
    • Parties may be regional in the sense that their support base is confined to particular states or regions. But they need not be regionalist in the sense of merely catering to regional aspirations.  The CPI(M) is a classic example of a regional party.
    • It is estimated that out of the 45% vote share accounted for by the regional parties, the regionalist parties accounted for only 13%. 
  • CBDT homes in on money stashed away abroad
    • For the first time ever, the CDBT has sent notices to some 50 people who have stashed away money abroad in a foreign bank.  It has sent notices to people holding accounts in LGT Bank, Leichtenstein, a tax haven bordering Germany.
    • It has asked them to explain the source of funds and also whether or not tax was paid on the money.
    • This move assumes significance in the context of estimates that put the money stashed away abroad by Indian businessmen at $1-1.5 trillion.
    • An estimate of the concealed wealth globally in tax havens puts such money at about $11 to 12 trillion.
    • Chairman CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes): SSN Moorthy
Finance & Economy
  • NRIs keep their faith in the country
    • The inward remittances from NRIs have gone up four fold to $4 bn in fiscal 2009 as they have increased their exposure to various NRI deposit schemes.
  • IIP (Index of Industrial Production) slumps 2.3% in March
    • INDIA’S industrial production for March registered its sharpest fall in 16 years, contracting 2.3% over the corresponding month a year ago, but prospects of an upward revision kept the sentiments alive and economists predicted a recovery in the April numbers. 
  • Bleak scenario on export import front
    • THE new financial year started on a dismal note for the country’s foreign trade with quick estimates for exports in April showing a drop of 33% to $10.7 billion and little hope of a recovery until September. 
    • Imports fell a sharper 35% during the month to $16 billion on the back of low oil prices, falling exports and a deceleration in manufacturing activity and investment. Imports have been posting negative growth since January this year. 
  • In spite of such bleak news on the industrial production and the exim fronts, why is that stock markets are rallying?
  • RBI forces a move to RTGS/NEFT
    • Perhaps you could have heard of RTGS/NEFT facilities offered by banks.  Cheques for Rs. 1 lakh or more presented for clearing in banks get cleared on priority basis.  From May 2nd RBI has redefined 'high value' to mean cheques of more than Rs. 5 lakh.  From November 1, this would be Rs. 10 lakh or more.
    • The idea behind this move appears to be forcing the customers to use the RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) facility and NEFT (National Electronic Fund Transfer) facility.  Through these two windows, usually the credit happens on the very same day.  
  • Obama's protectionist tendencies get a short shrift from none other than Steve Ballmer
    • The CEO of Microsoft, slammed the protectionist tendencies of the US administration and was quoted as saying "If the US allows us we will have those people to work for us in the US, but if the government does not allow us, we are prepared to have those people work elsewhere, whether it be here in India or in China."
    • "Those people" that he is referring to are the ones working on H1B visas.
Language lessons
  • hubris: Noun
    • Overbearing pride or presumption
    • eg: A comic sketch by the President as the centrepiece of a star-studded, $200-a-plate charity dinner, reiterated the importance of humour in high places (a quality rarely seen there) and an institutionalised demolition of hubris. 
  • set great/much store by something (Idiom)
    • to believe that something is very important or valuable
    • eg:  I've always set great store by his opinion. 
    • What would happen if this relationship that she set so much store by ended?
    • Only the hopelessly na├»ve will set any store by ideology in an era of endlessly shifting alliances.