Politics & the Nation
  • Kasab confesses
    • In a turn of events that no one expected, Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes confessed to his crime and sought a quick end to the trial.
    • Having consistently denied the charges for over 65 days, it is puzzling as to why he preferred to confess now.
    • Keep watching the papers for more twists and turns that may unfold before us. For full details of the confession read this report.
  • The BMW hit and run case convict gets repreive from Delhi High Court
    • Remember this attention grabbing case in which six persons were mowed down by a speeding BMW car driven by Sanjeev Nanda, the grand son of former naval Chief SM Nanda?
    • The Delhi High Court gave him relief as it set aside his conviction under a stringent section, and reduced his sentence from five to two years. Justice Kailash Gambhir convicted Nanda, under 304 a (causing death by rash and negligent act) of the IPC, which carries a maximum punishment of two years. He set aside the trial court’s conviction under the provision of culpable homicide not amounting to murder that carried punishment up to 10 years prison term.
Quotable quotes
  • "An organisation that relies on rogues to do its work shall soon have rogues at its helm” -- Mahatma Gandhi.
  • “It is not power that corrupts but fear. It is the fear of losing power that corrupts those who wield it, and it is the fear of the scourge of power that corrupts those who are subject to it” -- Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese leader who is under house arrest for the last two decades.
Finance & Economy
  • Government measures to ensure liquidity won't drie up
    • The finance ministry and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are readying measures to improve liquidity in the system and mute talk of the Centre’s massive borrowing programme inflating government bond yields.
    • As the first step, the investment cap in government securities (G-Secs) by foreign portfolio investors, or FIIs, is likely to be raised, an official privy to the move said. The current limit for FII investment in government securities is $6.5 billion while for corporate debt, it is $15 billion. FIIs are close to exhausting their investment limits in G-Secs while there is plenty of room for such inflows in corporate debt.
    • One more step that can reduce the pressure of government borrowing on the market:
      • Using the RBI's Rs. 88,000 crore Market Stabilization Bonds kitty for lending to government.
    • Will our SDR contribution to IMF not impact our cash flow?
      • No. The outflow on account of IMF contributions is placed at Rs. 30,000 crores. This will be a mere accounting entry as the government will be using the forex reserves to pay for SDRs' balance.
  • Centre to formulate place of supply rules?
    • The Centre is reportedly mulling the formulation of the Place of Supply Rules with regard to taxation of services soon.
    • Getting confused as to what these are? These are quite essential in the context of introduction of GST.
    • Why are they required? Tax can be levied only on a 'taxable event.' A taxable event can occur with reference to supply of goods at the point of consumption. Logically speaking taxable event in respect of services can be stated to have occurred at the point of consumption of services. But this need not necessarily be so. There is bound to be lot of litigation arising out of the determination of the 'locus' of delivery/consumption of services. So, it is good that the Centre has decided to frame these rules in the beginning itself.
    • Is it too complicated to comprehend?
    • Perhaps a full reading of this news report will make things clear to you. Strongly recommend a read.
  • While on this subject, it would also do us lot of good to read this article too.
    • It raises some pertinent questions with regard to the stated intent of the centre to implement partial GST if the need arose. Well worth a read. It describes the issues that are likely to arise if the decision to roll out GST in a phased manner is implemented.
  • A super structure to oversee the regulation of financial markets?
    • The centre is reportedly mulling the creation of a super structure to oversee the regulation of financial markets in the country. Though the body itself will not be a regulator, it is being conceived of a mechanism whereby representatives of all the nationwide financial regulators -- RBI, Sebi, IRDA, Forward Markets Commission and PFRDA -- will find a place on the board.
    • The government is yet to outline the domain of the oversight agency, but has made it clear to the players concerned that the jurisdictions of the existing regulators will stay.
  • Merchant power projects to get a shot in the arm
    • The government is reportedly considering giving customs and excise duty waivers to merchant power plants. The government is planning to permit projects that allow merchant sales of up to 40% of saleable energy in case of hydel power and 15% in thermal power to get zero import duty and deemed export benefit (excise duty waiver) on equipment purchase. It is also planning to extend its policy of giving price preference of 15% to domestic equipment companies till 2011.
    • Merchant sales allow project developers to sell power in the open market at marketdetermined prices instead of signing longterm contracts with state electricity boards.
  • Total solar eclipse tomorrow
    • As noted by us sometime earlier, there is total solar eclipse tomorrow. Only some cities in India will witness the total eclipse while all others will see it partially.
    • Take a look at this graphic which gives good details of the event.
Language lessons
  • faux pas: Noun
    • A socially awkward or tactless act
    • eg: The Congress on Monday unofficially signalled that the Indo-Pak joint statement signed at Sharm-El-Sheikh on resumption of the dialogue process with Pakistan may have been a diplomatic faux pas.
  • ratchet: Verb
    • Move by degrees in one direction only
    • eg: BJP has ratcheted up heat on what it sees as a potential issue to revive its flagging morale ahead of assembly elections in a number states, including Maharashtra, where the 26/11 attacks took place.
  • smorgasbord: Noun
    • An assortment of foods starting with herring or smoked eel or salmon etc with bread and butter; then cheeses and eggs and pickled vegetables and aspics; finally hot foods; served as a buffet meal
    • A collection containing a variety of sorts of things
  • locavore: Noun
    • one who is prone to eating foodstuff sourced close to the point of purchase