Politics & the Nation
  • What's in a name?
    • Is there a difference between Sayed and Saeed, except for the obvious spelling difference?
    • Yes. Sayed is a title used by those who trace their ancestry to the Prophet Mohammed, while Saeed is a common name, reports a news story in The Hindu. The story was referring to the goof up that occurred in Interpol's red corner notice for nabbing Hafiz Sayed, the mastermind behind the Mumbai terror attacks.
Finance & Economy
  • UNIDO to lend assistance for setting up industrial clusters
    • The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has joined hands with India to launch a series of new industrial projects worth $9 million to benefit industry.
    • An agreement to this effect was signed in Vienna by the Secretary DIPP, Ajay Shankar, and UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella, according to an official statement.
    • Under this Integrated Cluster Development Programme, clusters selected are: auto-component at Pithampur (Madhya Pradesh), Chennai and Pune; machine tools at Bangalore; foundry at Belgaum and Coimbatore; chemicals at Ankhleswar and leather at Kanpur.
  • What are level 1 ADRs and why is Government considering the move to allow their issuance by Indian companies?
    • THE government is reportedly examining a proposal that seeks to relax rules governing American Depository Receipts (ADRs) to allow Indian companies access the US market through level-1 ADRs, which need very few regulatory disclosures.
    • Level-1 issues do not involve issue of fresh capital, but allow overseas companies to diversify their investor base and build a presence in the US market that may help them raise capital later.
    • India currently allows only level-3 ADR/GDRs, which involve capital raising and listing on regular overseas exchanges and greater disclosure levels, including costly compliance with US laws.
    • Level-I ADRs, the most liberal form of depository receipts, allow non-US companies to access sophisticated investors in the US market with minimal reporting requirements from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
    • Companies issuing level-1 ADRs are listed only on the over-the-counter (OTC) exchanges in the US and do not have to comply with the rigorous US accounting standards, US GAAP. A majority of ADRs currently being traded are issued through level-1 programmes.
    • This kind of ADR/GDR issues, which do not entail any inflow of capital into the country, allow companies to build their brand before making an actual float on the stock exchanges to raise capital.
    • Under market economy, this option should be available to companies.
    • But with a committee headed by Planning Commission Member Saumitra Choudhary opining that the time is not ripe for introducing level 1 ADRs and the fact that they do not generate any value for the country, opinion is divided on their introduction.
    • Take a look at this graphic to know more about funding options available to companies.
  • How serious is undernutrition an issue for us in India?
    • Take a look at these facts and figures and you will appreciate it:
    • Roughly 45% of the under-fives are under-weight and there have been no signs of improvements over the last seven years. A recent World Bank study says that the loss of human potential due to under-nutrition would lead to a GDP loss of 2-3% and can lead to a 10% reduction in lifetime earnings. Also, the nutrition related factors are responsible for 50% of the 2.1 million under-5 deaths in India each year.
    • What are the factors that contribute to undernutrition among women and children in India? What should the government do about it? For answers to these questions, you must read this article that appeared in today's ET. Worth a read.
  • Should India accept internationally-mandated restrictions on carbon emissions? Is such acceptance in its national interest? If you are asked to cite three reasons objecting to this proposition, would your objections read like the following?
    • First, while the facts of global warming and green house gas (GHG) emissions as its cause are widely accepted, scientific evidence linking GHG emissions to increased frequency or intensification of catastrophic events such as hurricanes and cyclones is lacking. Evidence linking global warming and glacier melting is similarly weak: the Gangotri glacier has been receding since scientists began to keep its measurement in 1780.
    • Second, granting that a connection between global warming and increased incidence of rains, floods, heat waves, rising sea levels and even cyclones and hurricanes exists, mitigation by India in the next two or three decades is neither necessary nor sufficient to arrest global warming and its consequences. The richer world consisting of the US, Europe, Japan, Canada and Eurasia account for slightly more than 50% of the current carbon emissions. Adding China brings the proportion over 70%. In contrast, India accounts for less than 5% of the global emissions.
    • The argument that mitigation is not feasible without participation by India is a political one: as a bargaining tactic, the US Congress refuses to undertake internationally-mandated mitigation obligations unless India accepts them as well.
    • Finally, if India accepts mitigation commitments early on, it will remain woefully inadequately prepared to face the vagaries of nature that would visit it even absent any additional GHG emissions. But if it manages to postpone the commitments until 2040 and stay course on growth and poverty alleviation, it would be able to provide significantly improved protection against the adverse natural events in the early as well as later decades.
    • For a more detailed explanation of the above excerpts, read Arvind Panagariya's article in today's ET.
  • Bolt thunders with his performance
    • Take a look at this performance of the Jamaican sprinter!
    • Bolt emerged as a superstar at last year’s Beijing Olympics, winning gold medals in world-record time in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x100-metre relay. He took home golds in all three events again at this month’s World Championships (at Berlin, Germany) - smashing his own records in the 100 (9.58 seconds) and 200 (19.19 seconds).
  • A bit about triathlons
    • Triathlon tests one’s endurance level. The distances vary for different events. For example, in the Olympics it is 1.5km of swimming, 40km of biking and 10km of running while in the Ironman race, held in different cities around the world, it is 3.2km, 180km and 42.2km respectively.
    • In a recent event held at Pentincton, Canada it consisted of a gruelling three-day competition — consisting of 10 km of swimming and 144.8 km of biking (day one), 273.5 km of biking (day two) and 84.3 km of running (day three).
Language lessons
  • mugshot: Noun
    • A photograph of someone's face (especially one made for police records)
  • beaver away: Verb
    • Work hard on something
    • eg: So even as we go for the low-hanging fruit and push through the easier bits of reform — incentivise development of a corporate bond market, put in place a bankruptcy code, reform our tax system and tax administration, etc — we need to beaver away on the tougher bits too.
  • aficionado: Noun
    • A fan of bull fighting; A serious devotee of some particular music genre or musical performer
Obituary: Edward Kennedy
  • Senator Edward M Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in an enduring political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod after a year-long struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.
  • In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy, a liberal Democrat, had an impressive list of legislative achievements on healthcare, civil rights, education, immigration and more. His only run for the White House ended in defeat in 1980.