Politics & the Nation
  • TMC-Congress combine sweeps West Bengal civic elections
    • The anti-CPM wave in West Bengal since the Lok Sabha elections continued on Wednesday with the ruling party managing to win merely three out of the 16 municipalities that went to polls last Sunday.
    • Results of civic elections were announced on Wednesday and the CPM suffered yet another crushing defeat. Something that clearly indicates the ruling Marxists may not be able to mend the huge dent in their image in the forthcoming Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections scheduled in early 2010, and assembly elections thereafter, in 2011.
  • IITs hopes on reservations in faculty dashed
    • The IITs have consistently opposed the move to bring in reservations for faculty recruitment. They had hoped that the institutions would be exempted when the government introduced the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill in December 2008. The Bill, moved by Department of Personnel and Training and passed by Rajya Sabha, seeks to provide exemption from reservation for SCs and STs in the appointment of faculty in the institutions of national importance. The IITs were amongthe 47 institutions designated as institutions of national importance. The Bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha as it was opposed by members, besides objections raised by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
    • Now the Union HRD minister reportedly said that the IITs would have to live with the system of quota in the faculty.
    • With the opening of 8 more new IITs, there is a need for at least another 10,000 faculty in the IITs.
Finance & Economy
  • Budget jargon
    • As we await budget presentation in a few days from now, it is time for us to brush up our knowledge about the jargon that finds place in the budget speech. Take a look at the jargon here.
  • What positive impact can be there on fiscal reform because of the petro price hike?
    • One, it will allow the government to include fuel subsidies in budgetary accounting instead of fudging figures by counting oil bonds, meant to finance fuel subsidies, as off-budget item.
    • Two, it will still keep the now-expanded fiscal deficit down by reducing the amount of subsidy on fuels.
    • The government is reportedly planning to compensate state-owned oil marketing companies through budgetary provisions. This will be a departure from the current practice of compensating them through off-budget oil bonds.
    • At the current crude oil price of Indian basket ($70.29 a barrel), the total revenue loss of fuel retailers is estimated at Rs 30,000 crore for 2009-10. The companies are still losing Rs 15.20 a litre on kerosene and Rs 96.8 per cylinder on cooking gas.
  • What are teaser loans?
    • These are adjustable-rate loans in which borrowers pay a relatively low interest rate initially, after which the rate is re-set. These were seen as one of the factors that led to the subprime crisis in housing.
    • Now SBI appears to be aggressively offering such loans.
    • Isn't it time SBI gets cautioned about such dicey offerings?
  • Six shipping projects on the anvil
    • Under the 100-days programme of the UPA government, the shipping ministry has proposed to award a contract for six port projects costing Rs 3,319 crore on a public private partnership (PPP) basis. The six projects are expected to add capacity of 31.23 million tonnes and 1.97 million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units).
    • The proposed projects include development of a deep draught iron ore berth and a coal berth with a capacity of 10 million tonnes each at a cost of Rs 591.35 crore and Rs 479.01 crore respectively at Paradip port. A container terminal with a capacity of 1.5 million TEUs at Ennore port is also planned at an estimated cost of Rs 1,407 crore.
  • Warehousing authority (WDRA) being formed
    • The warehousing authority being set up to make warehouse receipts negotiable and tradeable is likely to get a chairman and two members by October.
    • This will enable the implementation of the rules and regulations being framed under the Warehousing (Development & Regulation) Act, 2007, which envisages the creation of Warehousing Development & Regulatory Authority (WDRA).
    • Though warehouse receipts issued by government and private warehouses are currently being traded, a defect in the title to the goods tends to pass on as a warehouse receipt changes hands. Negotiability will guarantee the title is not defective and give banks more comfort in lending against the instrument.
    • Negotiability will also tempt banks to bring down both haircut (margins) and rate of interest on loans against warehouse receipts as their portfolios grow. This is because they will be assured of quality and quantity of goods stored at warehouses that are registered with WDRA.
Persons in news
  • Roshni Nadar and Rishad Premji
    • Both are scions of India's leading business tycoons. The former, of Shiv Nadar of HCL fame and the latter of Wipro founder Azim Premji.
    • Roshi is an MBA from Kellog School and is taking over as CEO of HCL Corp, the holding company of the HCL group companies. Shiv Nadar himself, as Chairman will confine his role to strategic issues.
    • Rishad meanwhile joined his new role in Wipro as general manager, treasury and investor relations. Rishad is being looked upon by many as a possible successor, though Mr Premji has made it clear that if he wants to lead the company, it can only happen after he has earned his way in a normal process.
  • On IOUs
    • We have read about them in novels or informally. But a government giving IOUs to its suppliers? Unusual know?
    • But this is what exactly the California state government has done. Read this new report; you will understand what we are saying.
Language lessons
  • thespian
    • Noun: A theatrical performer
      • The locals were demanding that the airport be named after NT Rama Rao, former Andhra chief minister and noted thespian.
    • Adjective: of or relating to drama
      • "the movie director had thespian cooperation"