Politics & the Nation
  • Rajasthan scores a first in reservations!
    • It became the first state in the country to bring in reservations based on economic backwardness.
    • In a dramatic turn of events, Rajasthan Governor Shailendra Kumar Singh finally approved the Bill, which provides 5% reservation to Gurjars and three other communities, besides 14% reservation to the Economically Backward Classes (EBCs). This reservation is over and above 49% reservation shared by OBC (21%), ST (12%) and SC (16%) in the state.
    • Now, the overall quota in government jobs and educational institutions in the state stands at 68%. This could lead to litigation as it crosses the reservation ceiling of 50% ruled by the Supreme Court.
    • For effective implementation, the Act should be made a part of IX Schedule of the Constitution so that any legal hurdle can be avoided. However, in a ruling the Supreme Court has said that articles in Schedule IX too can be legally reviewed.
  • Mr. Buta Sing, Chairman of National Commission on Scheduled Castes
    • He is in the news for refusing to step down from the gubernatorial post.
    • The calls for resignation came following the CBI's booking of his son Sarobjit Singh in a bribery case involving the NCSC.
    • It is interesting to note that Buta Singh was expelled by the Congress party in the run up to this year's Lok Sabha polls for contesting as a rebel candidate from Rajasthan.
    • Mr. Buta Singh claimed that these are attempts at 'killing' his political future.
Finance & Economy
  • Private airlines take to the streets
    • Unable to face the turbulent times, bleeding airlines are crying out for help from the government. They want a reduction in the taxes applicable to ATF, lower landing and parking charges at airports etc.
    • They are now threatening that on August 18, they will ground all their flights in protest.
    • This has prompted the government to offer talks. But no clear deadline or schedule was announced.
    • Jet Airways, Kingfisher, SpiceJet and Indi-Go are yet to pay Rs 212 crore to the Airports Authority of India for using its infrastructure. Kingfisher, Jet and SpiceJet also owe Rs 1,726 crore to oil marketing companies.
    • The combined loss of the airline companies was Rs 10,000 crore in 2008-09. FIA, the industry body, estimates the industry will lose Rs 57,000 crore this year.
  • Grey market for PCs
    • The illegal trade in IT hardware in India is a lucrative one. After the end of the shelf life of equipment such as PCs, printers and switches, they are sold in the grey market, from where they find their way to consumers, generally first-time buyers.
    • About 6.7 million notebooks and PCs were sold in the 12 months to March 2009 in the country.
    • At about Rs 12,000, a desktop costs nearly a third of an average Indian’s yearly income of Rs 38,084. In India, the installed PC base is about 30 million for a population of 1.1 billion. In comparison, PC penetration in Brazil is 14% and China, 25%.
  • Government to upgrade inflation indices
    • The government will upgrade the inflation indices to better represent economic reality, the finance minister told in the Parliament yesterday.
    • The upgrade will include a better representation for services and will also change the base year from 1993-94 to 2004-05.
    • In India, the weekly WPI is more closely watched than the consumer price index, which is published monthly, because it covers a higher number of products. The government has plans to draw up a producers price index by modifying the present WPI, but work on that has been delayed due to problems in data collection.
    • The National Statistical Commission had in 2001 recommended that the Central Statistical Organisation compile a single national consumer price index by computing the CPI (Urban) and CPI (Rural) separately and then combining them together into an all-India index in line with global practice to improve accuracy and help policy makers in tracking price movements.
  • LIC to have its capital raised 20 fold
    • THE government on Friday moved a Bill seeking to amend the over 50-year-old Life Insurance Corporation Act in the Lok Sabha. The Bill seeks to raise the capital base of the stateowned insurer from to Rs 100 crore from Rs 5 crore and empower the government to limit the extent of sovereign guarantee on the insurer’s liabilities if it so desires.
    • The Bill after its passage would bring country’s largest insurer on par with private insurers both in life and non-life segments, that are required to have a minimum capital base of Rs 100 crore as per Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority norms.
    • The new Bill proposes to allow LIC to allocate 90% or more such surplus—excess of assets over liabilities, for life insurance policy-holders and credit remaining to a separate account maintained by LIC. This account would be utilised for such purposes as the Central government may determine while the remainder would be paid as dividend. At present, the state-owned insurer is required to keep aside atleast 95% of the surplus while rest goes to the government.
    • The public sector behemoth that has over 50% of the market share garnered Rs 9,028 crore in April-June, 2009, up 20% over last fiscal. It sold over 59 lakh policies in April-June, 2009 as against 48 lakh in first quarter last fiscal.
    • The life insurance industry has registered more than four-fold increase in premium collection between 2001-02 and 2008-09. The total premium collection rose to Rs 2,23,556 crores in 2008-09 from Rs 50,094 crore in 2001-02.
  • How many times should Rugby players eat in a day?
    • Seven, according to the South African coach of the Indian Rugby team. Elite Rugby players in South Africa reportedly eat seven meals a day. In contrast India's players eat three meals in a day. It would be interesting to see whether Indian players would be able to follow the instructions of their coach.
Language lessons
  • clunker: Noun
    • Someone who is unsuccessful; An event that fails badly or is totally ineffectual; A car that is old and unreliable
    • eg: 'Cash for clunkers program gets $2 bn more?' -- heading for an article in today's ET.