05.09.2009

Politics & the Nation
  • On the Basic Structure of the Constitution
    • In our shout-box we have seen one important question relating to Keshvananda Bharati and some discussion ensued on the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
    • Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel for all of us, we thought it better to draw our attention to the following excerpt from a research paper on the subject. The 'basic structure' of the constitution as propounded by the Supreme Court Judges in the Keshvananda Bharati case is:
    • Sikri, C.J. explained that the concept of basic structure included:
      • Supremacy of the Constitution
      • Republican and democratic form of government
      • Secular character of the Constitution
      • Separation of powers between the legislature, executive and the judiciary
      • Federal character of the Constitution
    • Shelat, J. and Grover, J . added two more basic features to this list:
      • The mandate to build a welfare state contained in the Directive Principles of State Policy
      • Unity and integrity of the nation
    • Hegde, J. and Mukherjea, J . identified a separate and shorter list of basic features:
      • Sovereignty of India
      • Democratic character of the polity
      • Unity of the country
      • Essential features of the individual freedoms secured to the citizens
      • Mandate to build a welfare state
    • Jaganmohan Reddy, J. stated that elements of the basic features were to be found in the Preamble of the Constitution and the provisions into which they translated such as:
      • Sovereign democratic republic
      • Parliamentary democracy
      • Three organs of the State
    • Those of you who are interested -- in fact all of you should be -- can go through this well-written research paper on the subject. We are giving a downloadable link to it. See the 'download' link on the page to download it. Though it runs into 54 pages, it is time well spent studying it. One read will take you a long way.
  • Mayawati's pet project faces hurdles from Supreme Court
    • Take a look at this report. It gives details of this issue very succinctly.
Finance & Economy
  • Easier FDI norms for medium and smalll scale sector
    • The Centre Government announced new liberalised Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) replacing the current 24 per cent ceiling on foreign holding with sectoral caps. These industries will now be guided like other large enterprises as far as FDI is concerned.
    • The present policy on FDI in MSEs permits FDI subject only to the sectoral equity caps, entry routes and other relevant regulations.
    • An explanation of the sectoral cap:
      • According to the old policy whenever an SME wanted to have more than 24% FDI, it had to de-register itself as an SME and then only subject to FIPB approvals, the FDI stake in the company can be taken beyond 24%. The new policy now removes this sectoral cap.
    • How is the new policy expected to help?
      • It is expected to help the SME secotr modernise as overseas investment will bring modern technology. There are about 2.61 crore units in the MSE sector employing 5.97 crore people.
    • Let's revisit the definition of SME sector
      • According to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006, in the manufacturing sector micro units are those where investment in plant and machinery does not exceed Rs. 25 lakh, while small enterprises are defined as those investing between Rs. 25 lakh and Rs. 5 crore.
      • In the services sector, the investment in equipment up to Rs. 10 lakh is defined as micro enterprises, and Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 2 crore as small units.
International
  • Know the entire list of countries that comprise the G20?
    • The G-20 includes 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Britain and the United States. The European Union, represented by its rotating presidency and the European Central Bank, is the 20th member.
  • Iran to have a woman Cabinet minister!
    • For the first time since 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran will have a woman Cabinet Minister, as Parliament on Thursday approved 18 out of 21 nominees proposed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his new Cabinet.
    • Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, who will hold the Health portfolio, will be Iran's first woman Minister. She is a qualified gynaecologist from Tehran University, and has been a well-known health activist.
  • New Delhi meet achieves a breakthrough?
    • Papers reported that trade ministers from over 29 countries agreed to resolve the deadlock in the Doha round of trade negotiations. The ministers unanimously agreed to conclude the negotiations by 2010, and asked senior officials to meet in Geneva in 10 days to draw up work plans for the next two-three months to sort out the contentious issues that have held up the Doha round of WTO talks initiated way back in November 2001.
    • The Doha round, which seeks to further open up global markets in goods and services, broke down in July last year when a number of countries, with the US and India at the forefront, refused to come to a consensus on issues related to safeguards for poor farmers and sectoral negotiations for tariff elimination in select industrial goods sectors.
    • WTO Director General Pascal Lamy pointed out that in the Hong Kong ministerial in 2005, it was decided that the modalities (formulae for calculating tariff and subsidy cuts and levels of flexibilities) for agriculture and NAMA would be concluded first and then the final offers in services negotiations would be exchanged. However, in July 2008, a number of developing countries, including India, wanted to make sure while the NAMA and agri talks moved towards conclusion, services were also made part of the package so that offensive interests are met.
  • India, China helped stem the global recession, says World Bank Chief
    • INDIA, China and other developing nations have played a key role in checking the economic crisis, World Bank president Robert Zoellick has said, adding there is need of multiple poles of growth as the global economy can no longer rely on the US consumers.
    • Meanwhile, the IMF has revised up its forecast for global gross domestic product in 2009 and 2010. The IMF now forecasts the world economy will shrink by 1.3% in 2009, versus an earlier forecast of 1.4% contraction, before growing by 2.9% in 2010, upwardly revised from a previous 2.5%. The document also detailed upward revisions to 2010 GDP forecasts for the United States.
  • US joblessness at an all time high
    • The latest numbers brought total jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 to 6.9 million, the biggest decline in any post-World War II economic slump. The jobless rate jumped to 9.7% from 9.4%.
    • While the absolute number thus project a bleak picture, the silver lining is that the pace of job declines is subsiding. Therefore, we may see some hope in the not too distant a future in so far as US job market is concerned.
Medicine
  • Positiv+, SIAAP, PPTCT, NRHM...
    • What is their connection with HIV/AIDS?
    • Read this article to know about it. An important step in the right direction to enlighten AIDS victims.
Obituary: B.M. Bhatia
  • Noted economist B. M. Bhatia, known for his works on famines in India and problems of the agriculture sector, died here last night after a brief illness.
  • The 94-year old Bhatia is survived by three daughters and a son. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia were among the students of Mr. Bhatia, who started his academic career in Lahore in 1938 where he also taught in the DAV College.
Language Lessons
  • galleon: Noun
    • A large square-rigged sailing ship with three or more masts; used by the Spanish for commerce and war from the 15th to 18th centuries

1 Comment:

henrylow said...

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