Finance & Economy
  • Higher education boom in India?
    • According to industry estimates, the higher education market will grow three-fold in the next 10 years to cross the $20-billion mark, as India looks to churn out seven million fresh graduates to feed its growing economy.
    • By the end of 2008, about 43% of higher education institutions and 30% of enrollments in India were in the private sector.
  • Swine flu comes down in Southern hemisphere
    • The World Heath Organisation said on Friday that swine flu infections are declining in the Southern Hemisphere as its seasonal flu period comes to an end and the pandemic shifts back north.
    • More than 2,00,000 people worldwide have caught swine flu and at least 2,185 died of it, according to WHO. The real caseload is much higher because countries are no longer reporting individual cases.
  • Natural odours may keep mosquitoes at bay
    • Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide emitted in human breath. But two odours (1-hexanol and 2,3-butanedione) have been found to strongly inhibit carbon dioxide sensitivity in mosquitoes. Researchers are exploring the possibility of blunting their ability to sense carbon dioxide, and the idea has come from studying fruit flies.
    • These findings are critical to come up with an environmentally safe mosquito repellent to which Culex mosquitoes may not be able to develop resistance. Culex mosquitoes cause dengue in humans.
Science & Technology
  • Discovery finally lifts off on third attempt
    • Space shuttle Discovery and seven astronauts blazed into orbit on Friday (Saturday in India) on a spectacular midnight flight to the international space station, hauling up a $5 mn treadmill named after a TV funnyman (Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert) and thousands of kg of more solemn supplies.
    • In all, the space shuttle will deliver about 7,700 kg of gear to the space station. The experiments include six mice that will remain at the orbiting complex until the following shuttle visit in November. Part of a bone loss study, the mice will be the first mammals — other than humans — to spend a prolonged period at the space station.
  • CCI finds bid rigging is rampant
    • THE Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found that a raft of government departments are losing thousands of crores of public money while procuring goods due to faulty bidding systems.
    • This assumes significance for the simple reason that public procurement accounts for nearly 13% of the total gross domestic product (GDP).
    • Bid rigging is a form of fraud in which a commercial contract is promised to one party even though for the sake of appearance, several other parties also present bids. The bids end up suiting a single player.
    • Besides affecting the end consumer’s interest, these anticompetitive practices take a toll on the public exchequer as public money is flushed out to wrong hands.
  • Micropension scheme attracts two more states
    • MADHYA Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have joined the Micropension Scheme, the country’s first public-private initiative aimed at providing pensions to lowincome workers in the unorganised sector. With this, the number of states that have joined the scheme has risen to three. Rajasthan is already a member with more than 40,000 workers enrolled.
    • Workers above 18 years of age can join the scheme and are entitled to a retirement income from the age of 58. Although the scheme encourages workers to save as much as they can, it accepts a minimum contribution of Rs 50 per month.
    • The partnering state government matches the individual contribution. The government benefits because the scheme reduces the long-term budgetary pressure to provide old-age benefits.
Language lessons
  • scupper: Verb
    • Wait in hiding to attack; Put in a dangerous, disadvantageous, or difficult position