Politics & the Nation
  • Supreme Court intervenes in allotment of medical seats
    • The Supreme Court has directed state governments to offer 15% seats of medical colleges to the Centre and conduct an ‘extended round of counselling’ to fill seats as per merit. The directive comes in the wake of a petition filed with the apex court stating that some medical colleges in J&K, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat had refused to offer seats for Centre’s quota of 15% as per Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines.
    • The total number of seats under Centres’ 15% quota were supposed to be 2,205 (1,972 for MBBS and 233 for BDS) for the academic year 2009. Due to delay on part of the states, there were 339 unalloted seats for MBBS courses, while 168 BDS seats were not allotted after the first round of counselling.
  • Ad blitzkrieg against Naxalism
    • Seeing that the war against naxalism needs to be fought at mind level, it resorted to an advertisement blitkrieg against naxals.
    • Naxalism currently affects 2,000 police stations spread over 223 districts across 20 states. As many as 1,405 Naxalrelated violence killed 580 persons across the states until August 27 this year as compared to 1,591 incidents and 721 killings in the whole of 2008.
    • The anti-Naxal force, the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra), and the Chhattisgarh police together killed around 30 Maoist rebels on Friday in Dantewada district.
  • Could high economic growth lead to lower corruption?
    • This question was the subject of research in Australia recently. One of our favourite authors brings to our notice the results of this research. Take a look...
Finance & Economy
  • Policy regime relating to FIIs in for overhaul?
    • SEBI is reportedly working on overhauling the policy regime relating to FII investments. A new qualified foreign investor framework (QFIF) is to replace the existing one on foreign institutional investors (FIIs).
    • Currently, a foreign individual seeking to invest in Indian stocks has to be registered as a sub-account of an FII, which, in turn, has to apply to Sebi on behalf of the sub-account holder. Besides, the validity of the sub-account registration is co-terminus with the registration of the FII.
    • The idea behind the concept paper was to remove unnecessary hurdles and make it simpler, and also to bring foreign investors on par with domestic ones. It is also expected to encourage more investors to come through the front door instead of the participatory note (PN) route. PNs are overseas derivative instruments with Indian shares as the underlying asset that allow foreign investors to invest in Indian equities indirectly, without revealing their identity to Indian authorities.
    • If these proposals go through, individual foreign investors would be able to buy and sell securities on Indian stock exchanges directly by opening a demat account with a domestic depository and a dedicated bank account with mandatory cheque payment facility. This would also address ‘know-yourcustomer’ concerns of banks and depositories, as they would be liable to carry out all checks on the overseas investor before opening an account. Moreover, the mandatory cheque payment requirement would generate a paper trail that would help track transactions related to the account, and possibly detect money laundering.
  • A recap of the Bharti-MTN merger issue
    • Bharti and MTN have reportedly finalised the merger contours and are waiting for the assent from their respective governments.
    • You might be aware that the proposed merger involves the Indian company taking a 49% stake in MTN and the South African company and its shareholders acquiring a 36% economic interest in Bharti. The deal and the structure is reportedly in place. According to the proposal that has been approved by both companies, Bharti will pay a total of $10 billion in cash and issue 442 million new shares to MTN shareholders worth an additional $4 billion for acquiring a 49% stake in the company. Bharti will also raise $3 billion by issuing fresh shares to SingTel on a preferential basis. No further negotiations are required between the two companies.
    • As the Bharti-MTN saga enters the last round, the DLC issue is threatening to become a deal breaker. As both governments are showing little flexibility on the matter of dual listing, it would take nothing short of a miracle for the deal to go through. Will Sunil Mittal’s call finally go through? That's the big question that is there on every India Inc watcher's mind.
    • For DLCs to be allowed in India, several laws, including the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the Companies Act, will have to be amended and full capital account convertibility will have to be allowed. According to at least two finmin officials, DLCs do not figure anywhere on the government’s and RBI’s radar at the moment. This is mainly because DLC implies a situation close to full capital account convertibility, which the Indian government or RBI is unwilling to consider.
  • Look at the reach of India Post!
    • It has 1.55 lakh post offices in the country.
    • It is now roped in to offer various other services because of its reach. Take a look at this report about its foray into offering health insurance for the rural folk. Worth our notice.
  • Pak govt, army backed efforts to help North Korea, Iran, says Khan
    • AQ KHAN, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, has gone public with what the world at large had always suspected—that his efforts to help out North Korea, Iran and China in building their capabilities had the backing of the Pakistani government and army.
    • Pakistan has all along denied that it had abetted Khan’s project, maintaining that he was doing it all alone, but the latest revelations are certain to make its claims suspect in the eyes of the US and other western nations.
    • Khan writes about the Pakistani leadership in a December 2003 letter to his wife Henny that has finally been made public by an interlocutor. The interlocutor is a journalist contact by the name of Siman Henderson. Henderson has now made the letters public.
  • India enters Davis Cup World Group after 11 years
    • Thanks to Somdev Devvarman, India made it to the 16 team World Group in Davis Cup after 1998. Then it had lost to Italy. Thrice India reached in the final of the World Group but ended up runners-up on all occasions.
    • Somdev Devvarman scripted a spectacular win over South Africa’s Rik De Voest in a high-voltage marathon five-setter to clear India’s passage.
Language Lessons
  • lese majesty: Noun (also lèse majestè)
    • A crime that undermines the offender's government; The crime of violating majesty, an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.
    • eg: Critics apparently don’t want to go anywhere near a comment which could be considered lese majeste since the ongoing austerity-drive is being led by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi who flew economy!