Politics & the Nation
  • The Baloch blunder
    • Our Prime Minister appears to have been taken in by the Pakistani machinations at Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt during the recent NAM summit.
    • The joint statement that is signed by both the PMs during their talks on the sidelines of the summit has mentioned for the first time about Balochistan separatism. Indirectly, it is a reference to India aided / abetted separatist activity according to Pakistan. Allowing a reference to it in the joint statement made India appear to be acceding to the Pakistani charge that Baloch separatists are being aided and abetted by India.
    • This slip up has now come in handy for the opposition parties in India as well as Pakistan.
    • Take a look at the full text of the joint statement here.
    • Now the Pakistani press is reporting that the Pakistani PM had in fact handed over a dossier on subversive activities carried out by RAW operatives on Pakistani soil to Mr. Manmohan Singh.
  • What's your take on Continental Airline's faux pas in frisking Dr. Abdul Kalam?
    • If you keep aside for a moment the breaking of local laws, this ET editorial comment is worth our noting:
    • Let us say that real dignity lies not in exemption from frisking but in accepting that, in troubled times, dignity lies in everybody sharing the humiliations of frisking.
    • Are our politicos game for this?
  • Capture the mood of India during the solar eclipse
Finance & Economy
  • Debit card usage set to be extended to cash withdrawals from merchant establishments
    • Read this interesting news report. The RBI is reported to have allowed cash withdrawals using swipe machines (PoS terminals) at retail shops.
    • We are sure, the thought would have crossed your minds too sometime or the other. It's a logical step and one that will give some revenue to the banks too.
    • How many ATMs and how many PoS terminals are there in the country?
      • Reportedly there are about 10 PoS terminals for every ATM in the country. Sometime back we noted that there are about 35,000 ATMs in the country. That makes it 3,50,000 PoS terminals in the country. This would be a good enough number for enhancing the reach of cash withdrawal facility in the country.
    • Some snippets worth remembering from the report:
      • The facility is to be restricted for cash withdrawals upto Rs. 1000/- only.
      • There will be a transaction fee ranging from 2 to 3% on such withdrawals.
      • At present whenever we use a credit or debit card, there is a transaction cost varying between 1.5 to 2% of the amount. Though this is being paid by the merchants selling us the goods or services, some pass it on to us the customers.
      • Only 2-3% of state-owned bank customers use their debit cards to make payments, while 14-19% customers of private and foreign banks do the same.
      • There are 14.3 crore people holding debit cards in India.
  • Q1 direct tax kitty grows 3.65% to Rs 59,465 crore
    • Direct tax collections must grow by at least 9% for the government to achieve its budget target of Rs 3,70,000 crore. Any shortfall in tax collections will put further pressure on the fiscal deficit.
    • Direct tax collections, which include taxes such as those on corporates, firms and individuals, stood at Rs 59,465 crore during the first quarter of the current fiscal against Rs 57,373 crore during the corresponding quarter last financial year, according to official data released by the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
    • Taxpayers received Rs 17,600 crore as refunds from the government. This represents a 52.01% growth over Rs 11,578 crore given in refunds in the first three months of last fiscal.
  • What is the ACES bill and why should India bother about it? (Excerpts from an article by Arvind Panagariya in today's ET)
    • It is the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Bill of 2009. Though it is yet to become a law as it needs to be passed by their Senate, it does give India some jitters.
    • It provides for a “cap and trade” program that would place an annual cap on the overall carbon emissions in the US. The cap would progressively tighten to 80% of 2005 emissions in 2020, 58% in 2030 and 17% in 2050.
    • The cap and trade program of the US significantly differs from other similar regimes in place in accordance with the Kyoto protocol. Beginning in 2020, it requires the US President to impose tariffs on selected carbon intensive goods from countries that do not introduce caps on carbon emissions. It specifically targets India and China by requiring the US Trade Representative to annually certify that these countries are adopting emission standards at least as vigorous as those prevailing in the US.
  • Why is India opposed to agreeing to a cap on its emissions? (Excerpts from an article by Arvind Panagariya in today's ET)
    • The US, which had refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol but is now keen on a post-Kyoto climate change treaty, insists that China and India undertake binding mitigation commitments. It reasons that these countries are among the world’s four largest emitters in absolute terms.
    • But beyond this size-based argument, there is little else on which the US case can be pegged, especially against India. Given India has the second largest population in the world with the US being a very distant third, it is hardly surprising that India is among the top four emitters in absolute terms. But in per-capita terms, it ranks a low 137th. Forty percent of the households in the country are even without an electricity connection. And there are 300 million people living in abject poverty. If India were to agree to even cap its emissions at current levels, let alone mitigate, its growth process will be crippled. And with it, the country would lose any hope of bringing electricity to all households or of eliminating poverty.
    • Therefore, from the viewpoint of its own citizenry, India has every reason to refuse mitigation commitments for some decades to come. It also has a good moral case. Rich countries have been responsible for more than 70% of the emissions between 1850 and 2000. India’s contribution to emissions during these same years was a paltry 2%. Even setting aside this history, Canada, US, Europe, Eurasia and Japan together account for more than 50% of the current emissions and India only 4.4%. If environment were to be viewed as a common resource, which it is, almost any principle of moral philosophy would say that developed countries must bring their emissions down very substantially before they demand similar reductions from the poor countries. The fact that they have emitted a lot in the past and they continue to do so today ought to give them rights to less, not more, future emissions than the poor countries.
Language lessons
  • dystopian: Adjective
    • As bad as can be; characterized by human misery; Of or pertaining to or resembling a dystopia
    • eg: "AIDS is one of the dystopian harbingers of the global villages"
  • dystopia: Noun
    • State in which the conditions of life are extremely bad as from deprivation or oppression or terror; A work of fiction describing an imaginary place where life is extremely bad because of deprivation or oppression or terror

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

according to hindu there are 44587 ATMs and 4.7 lakh POS