Politics & the Nation
  • AP gets Rs. 1000 crs as flood relief
    • Describing the unprecedented floods in Andhra Pradesh as a national calamity in its own way, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday announced an immediate advance of Rs. 1,000 crore towards relief and rehabilitation works in the State.
    • Addressing a press conference after an aerial survey of the affected areas in Kurnool, Krishna, Mehboobnagar and other districts, he said the Centre stands ready to assist the State in every possible way.
Nobel Prize for Peace
  • Obama wins Noble Peace Prize
    • U.S. President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.
    • “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the committee said. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”
    • Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson won in 1919. Former President Jimmy Carter won the award in 2002, while former Vice-President Al Gore shared the 2007 prize with the U.N. panel on climate change.
    • In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”
    • Unlike the other Nobel Prizes, which are awarded by Swedish institutions, he said the peace prize should be given out by a five-member committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament. Sweden and Norway were united under the same crown at the time of Nobel’s death.
Finance & Economy
  • Investors shun equity to seek safety in debt
    • This is one trend that is well worth our attention in these interesting times.
    • Indian investors are shifting from equity and seeking the safety of debt even as hot money from foreign funds sends share prices soaring.
    • Mutual fund (MF) companies net sold Rs 2,335 crore worth shares in September and made a net purchase of Rs 8,458 crore in the debt, continuing a pattern from the previous month. In August, too, asset management companies favoured fixed income investments, making a net purchase of Rs 9,052 crore in debt and limiting net equity investments to just Rs 570 crore. This despite the fact that during the past six months, equity markets have moved up sharply. From March 9 this year, when the current rally began, the Sensex has risen by about 110%. In September alone, Sensex rallied by 2,000 points and touched the psychological level of 17,000.
  • Reliance Brothers talk peace
    • RELIANCE Industries responded positively to Anil Ambani’s call to settle all outstanding disputes between them through dialogue and discussion, but added that the contentious gas dispute is a larger national issue and can only be resolved through the Supreme Court.
    • In a late night statement, RIL welcomed Anil Ambani’s call to make a renewed effort to “resolve, reconcile and reciprocate”. It said there is no contentious issue in the world that cannot be resolved satisfactorily through dialogue, adding that RIL will not be found wanting in responding to the move constructively.
    • Earlier, Anil Ambani had issued a statement saying that all disputes between him and his brother can be resolved in a constructive and cordial manner.
  • Banks and Shipping want to remain out of CCI's purview
    • RBI has reportedly written to the finance ministry asking that the banking sector, including mergers and acquisitions of banks, should be kept out of the purview of the Competition Act, 2002.
    • The ship liners association has also approached the ministry of corporate affairs seeking anti-trust immunity from the competition watchdog.
    • Sections 54 and 55 of the Competition Act 2002 grant power to the central government to exempt certain sectors or enterprises from the competition watchdog’s lens.
    • The government, however, is yet to notify sections 5 and 6 of the CCI Act which will empower the Commission to vet merger and acquisitions that can have a bearing on competition in a particular sector. After notification of sections 5 and 6, all mergers which would increase the combined assets of the two entities to more than Rs 1,000 crore or raise the turnover to Rs 3,000 crore would require the CCI’s nod.
  • The utility of the mobile in agricultural extension work
    • This article will read like a conventional text book paragraph on the subject. But a very well written piece that one should take a look. Recommend a strong read.
  • Some stats about our agriculture/food supply chain that are worth our attention
    • Over 60% of India’s total cultivable area depends on the monsoon, while the rest is irrigated.
    • India is the world’s second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. But it loses between 30% and 40% of its fresh produce annually due to wastage along the supply chain. India wastes more fruits and vegetables than it consumes.
    • About 30-35% of the losses can be reduced by transporting the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables in refrigerated containers. But operating costs for Indian cold-storage units are believed to be over $60 per cubic metre per year compared to less than $30 in the west. Energy expenses make up about 28% of the total expenses compared to 10% in the west.
  • On neoclassical economic theory
    • Neoclassical economic theory, which has dominated in the west for a century, holds that each individual’s compensation reflects his marginal social contribution — what he adds to society. By doing well, it is argued, people do good.
    • This theory flows out of our societies' willingness to tolerate inequalities because they are viewed to be socially useful; it is the price we pay for having incentives that motivate people to act in ways that promote societal well-being.
    • (As excerpted from Joseph Stiglitz's article today.)
Science & Technology
  • NASA rocket crashes on moon in search for water
    • A NASA rocket crashed into the moon on Friday, sending a huge plume of dust above the surface in an experiment scientists hope will provide data about ice hidden in the perpetually dark lunar craters.
    • It was crashed at the Caebus crater on the moon’s south pole at 9000 km per hour.
    • The NASA probe is targeting a 100-kilometre wide, 4-kilometre deep crater and is timed to strike when lighting conditions are ideal for observing the impact. The 585-kilogramme craft was create at impact crater about two metres deep.
    • NASA scientists said that it is possible for frozen water to have remained in the moon’s craters for billions of years, because the bottoms of the craters are never reached by sunlight and protect any ice from evaporation into the thin lunar atmosphere.
    • It is the 20th lunar crash, most of them done on purpose, since the Russians first did it 50 years ago last month.
  • Do you know this snippet about Edgar Alan Poe?
    • He is considered the inventor of detective story and creator of horror writing and was certainly one of the most influential American writers ever. But he died an impoverished lunatic at the age of 40.
    • No one turned for his original funeral in 1849. But now, 160 years after that he is to be honoured with a decent funeral service.
    • As part of events marking the anniversary, and 200 years since his birth, Baltimore, where Poe died and is buried, will host a double celebration.
  • Rani Jadhav is Chairman of TAMP
    • Former chairperson of Mumbai Port, Ms Rani Jadhav has taken charge as chairperson, Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) from October 1.
  • IOC President
    • Jacques Rogge was re-elected as President of the International Olympic Committee for a final four-year term.
    • The 67-year-old Belgian, who has served as IOC president since 2001, was the only candidate and needed a simple majority in the vote. The IOC voted 88-1 in favour of his re-election.
  • Rugby, Golf included in the Olympics
    • The International Olympic Committee voted Friday to include both sports on the program for the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games.
    • Rugby will organize a four-day seven-a-side tournament for 12 men’s and women’s teams. Golf will stage a 72-hole strokeplay tournament for men and women, with 60 players in each field.
    • The vote brings the number of summer Olympic sports back to 28. There have been two openings on the program since baseball and softball were dropped in 2005 for the 2012 London Games.
    • Rugby and golf both made their Olympic debuts at the second modern games in Paris in 1900. Golf was only played again at the 1904 St. Louis Games, while rugby featured three more times, making its last appearance in the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Language lessons
  • squall: Verb
    • Make high-pitched, whiney noises; Utter a sudden loud cry;
    • Noun: Sudden violent winds; often accompanied by precipitation
  • ardour: Noun
    • A feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favour of a person or cause); Intense feeling of love; Feelings of great warmth and intensity
  • palaver: Noun
    • Flattery intended to persuade; Loud and confused and empty talk
    • eg: Consider the Al Gore Climate Change prize: it helped to stop Mr Bush dismissing the whole palaver as some kind of liberal plot, and catapulted the likes of Rajendra Pachauri from the sidelines of an obscure academic multilateral agency into the top table of global decision-makers.