Politics & the Nation
  • Politics apart, there simply is no alternative to engaging with Pakistan
    • The Baloch blunder has no doubt gave the Congress party enough of headache. But the fact remains that in the given circumstances there is simply no alternative to keep engaging Pakistan.
    • Take a look at this ET editorial. It sums up the inevitability excellently.
    • It will be an excellent piece for all those of you who are facing the International Relations paper.
Finance & Economy
  • Expats' dreams come crashing
    • Today the country hosts 50,000 expat workers, a majority of them sent by multinational firms to set up or augment their local operations. India ranks third only behind Hong Kong and Japan among countries with the highest proportion of expats earning more than $250,000, says an HSBC survey.
    • While an India posting was always a coveted entry on the CV of a global professional, the expat’s typical strawberry spring story could also be summed up in one word: perks... Luxurious homes with a battery of attendants, tickets for business or first-class travel, frequent free home trips, school fees for children, hefty relocation grants, and allexpenses paid family holidays back home — all on top of an already juicy salary.
    • But that could well change, as companies find it increasingly tough to cope with the expenses that an expat posting entails.
    • Leisure and perks are out of fashion in a scrimping world and the axe is being swung wildly.
    • Jet Airways has reportedly cut the salaries by 10% and has put a stop or reduced the number of perks. It is trying to replace its entire expat workforce with local emplyees.
  • Rebound in STT collections points to?
    • Ans: Possibly the return of the retail investor the bourses.
    • STT (Securities Transaction Tax) is a turnover tax levied on the total consideration, and in cases of share purchase transaction settled through delivery, it is levied at 0.125%. Transactions in derivatives trading attract a lower STT of around 0.017%.
    • The average daily turnover on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) stood at Rs 18,240 crore in July, much higher than in the post-crisis months when it hovered around Rs 10,000 crore a day.
  • Govt. PSUs flout the norms on Company Secretaries
    • Over 200 public sector undertakings (PSUs) do not have a company secretary on their rolls even though they are mandated to have one, the government informed Parliament on Thursday.
    • Under the provisions of the Companies Act, every company with a minimum paid-up share capital of Rs 5 crore is required to appoint a wholetime company secretary.
    • The role of the company secretary is mainly to ensure procedural compliance, but India’s biggest corporate fraud has put their roles under greater scrutiny.
    • The profession of company secretaries is overseen by the statutorily-formed ICSI, which formulates code of conduct for its members.
Science & Technology
  • Automobiles powered with urine!
    • Ohio University researchers have been able to achieve a breakthrough in making automobiles that can run on pee power.
    • Look at this editorial which gives details about the concept. Worth a read.
  • Schumacher returns to formula one racing
    • The most successful driver in F1 history said on Wednesday he’ll come out of retirement and plans to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa at the Ferrari team, with which he won five of his record seven world championships.
    • Schumacher’s comeback at the age of 40 was announced hours after Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) said it’s quitting the sport at the end of 2009, becoming the second carmaker in less than a year to withdraw from the auto-racing series amid slumping sales and friction between the teams and the governing body.
    • Ferrari said Schumacher will replace Massa until the Brazilian is able to race again. Massa left intensive care yesterday after suffering head injuries five days ago at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
    • Schumacher is the only driver to win seven championships in F1 and he owns most of the sport’s meaningful records.
    • Schumacher won an unprecedented 91 times, one fewer than the combined tally of the next two most successful drivers Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
Language lessons
  • gravy train: Noun
    • Income obtained with a minimum of effort
  • feckless: Adjective
    • Not fit to assume responsibility; Generally incompetent and ineffectual
    • eg: But despite the ever-growing arms imports — a money-spinning business for many Indian politicians, civil servants and defence officers — India pursues an increasingly feckless policy towards China and has seen its military edge against quasifailed Pakistan erode to the point that recurring cross-border terror strikes are met with terror-emboldening inaction.