Politics & the Nation
  • Indian bureaucracy scores a first!
    • From the bottom that is. A Hong Kong-based research firm has rated Indian civil servants as the least efficient of the bureaucracy in 12 Asian nations. Singapore, on the other hand, has been credited with having the best civil servants in terms of efficiency levels.
Finance & Economy
  • Government moves fast -- puts ITI on block
    • THE government has kicked off the process of selling loss-making state-owned companies by putting India’s first public sector unit Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) on the block, to be sold in parts.
    • The move comes after the Department of Telecom’s efforts to merge the 60-year-old company with state-owned telecom operator BSNL were thwarted by the telco’s employees.
    • ITI has close to 13,000 employees across its plants in Bangalore, Mankapur, Rae Bareily, Naini, Srinagar and Palakkad. It recorded a net loss of Rs 191 crore for the quarter ended March 2009. In 2005-06, the government gave Rs 1,025-crore aid to ITI as part of a bailout package. The company sought an additional aid of around Rs 2,500 crore last year to write-off losses of Rs 2,820 crore.
    • In this context it would be interesting to know the difference between disinvestment and divestment.
    • Disinvestment means the withdrawal of capital from a country or a corporation.
    • On the other hand, divestment (aka divestiture) means the disposal of a business or a segment of the business. It can also mean the reduction of some kind of assets.
  • The case for market determined petro prices
    • Time and again we have been noting on this subject. In the context of the rising crude prices, which have touched $70 per barrel, it is time we look at it again.
    • Take a look at the strong case made out by an ET editorial.
    • But, wait a minute. Is there really a case? At least for debate/argument sake, one can take an opposite view and argue that there is no case. For instance, when the governments all over the world are vying with each other to announce fiscal stimulus packages, the case of petro prices doing damage to the fisc have weakened. Secondly, rising fuel costs will have a cascading effect on the overall economy. This may result in inflation the reining of which may cost much more to the government than oil subsidies.
  • Window dressing of accounts may be thing of the past
    • It says that AS28 (Accounting Standard 28) issued by the ICAI requires all entities to recognise the fall in value of assets due to a volatile economic environment in their books of account. Recommend a read of the piece at least once.
  • Dow Jones drops Citi & GM
    • The Dow Jones Industrial Average or simply the Dow is one of several stock market indices, created by nineteenth-century Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company co-founder Charles Dow. It is an index that shows how certain stocks have traded. Dow compiled the index to gauge the performance of the industrial sector of the American stock market. This came into existence in 1896 with a list of 12 stocks. Now it has 30 stocks in it.
    • Citi made it to the Dow in 1997. GM was there continuously since 1925.
  • Rising budget deficits threaten financial stability, warns Bernanke
    • FEDERAL Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said large US budget deficits threaten financial stability and the government can’t continue indefinitely to borrow at the current rate to finance the shortfall.
    • Bernanke’s comments signal that the central bank sees risks of a relapse into financial turmoil even as credit markets show signs of stability. He warned the financial industry remains under stress and the credit crunch continues to limit spending. The Fed chief said in his prepared remarks to the House Budget Committee that deficit concerns are already influencing the prices of long-term Treasuries. In recent weeks, yields on longer-term Treasury securities and fixed-rate mortgages have risen.
    • The budget deficit this year is projected to reach $1.85 trillion, equivalent to 13% of the nation’s economy. This year’s projected budget deficit, four times the size of last year’s shortfall, has been driven up mostly by costs associated with the financial crisis.
Language lessons
  • pronto: Adverb
    • In a punctual manner
      • eg: "Free up petro product price, pronto"
  • post-haste: Adverb
    • As fast as possible; with all possible haste
    • eg: Actually, the Centre needs to do away with the anachronistic regime of administered prices for the main oil products post haste.
  • coven: Noun
    • An assembly of witches; usually 13 witches
    • eg: Rajiv Gandhi started off on song. His promise to clean up the Ganga and take India to the 21st century, ... and to reverse the process that had converted the Congress into a coven of powerbrokers had resonated with the people.
  • clam up: Verb
    • Refuse to talk or stop talking; fall silent
    • eg: Singapore’s civil servants were found the most efficient among their Asian peers even though they tend to clam up unhelpfully each time things go wrong.