13.10.2009

Politics & the Nation
  • Response to a query on some concepts.
    • We have seen in the shoutbox a query about some concepts which straddle the political science and social science spheres. Instead of doing a repeat of what is referred to, we would like to point out the links for all of you. The links chosen may not necessarily be the best material that's out there on the web. But these are the ones that we find quite adequate for the purpose. Take a look:
    • What is the difference between Political justice and social justice??
      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice
      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_Justice
    • What is the difference between faith and belief and power and authority?
      • http://www.lightomega.org/Ind/Pure/Belief_Faith_and_Knowing.html
      • http://c2.com/cgi/wiki$?PowerVersusAuthority
  • HRD Minister, Sibal to discuss RC Bhargava Committee recommendations with the IIMs
    • Among recommendations was the proposal to create a pan-IIM board comprising 15 members. The government’s nominees would be limited to five, while remaining members would be eminent and highly successful individuals living in India or abroad. The board’s chairman would be nominated by the prime minister and a government nominee would serve as the secretary. The Pan-IIM board would not be involved in day to day management but be concerned with framing policy and medium and long-term business plans. It would also review performance of each IIM once in two years. Part of its mandate would be to serve as an advisory body to the government on all matters relating to IIMs. The advice would be binding on the government. It would also be charged with ensuring co-ordination between all IIMs, as well as help the institutes to raise private funds.
    • The Bhargava committee was not in favour of giving the IIMs full autonomy. IIMs have been established by the government with public funds and are perceived as public institutions and thus IIMs cannot expect to become fully independent of the government, the committee had said in its report.
    • Mr Sibal had reportedly said the government is ready to give incrementally autonomy to the IIMs provided they come up with a vision and fulfil it. The Bhargava committee had observed that the IIMs have failed to achieve greater degree of excellence.
Finance & Economy
  • Industrial output brings all-round cheer
    • INDUSTRIAL production posted its best growth in almost two years in August, bringing cheer to markets and policymakers worried about a drought-induced knock to the economy and prompted economists to look at bumping up growth forecasts for the year.
    • Data released by the government on Monday showed that industrial output as measured by the index of industrial production (IIP) grew by a better-thanexpected 10.4% in August, sharply higher than the 7.2% growth seen in July and soundly beating expectations of 9% growth.
    • Although industrial production accounts for only about 20% of the Indian economy, its strong linkages with the service sector that constitutes about 60% of the GDP is expected to push growth in other sectors also.
    • The positive outlook for the industrial activity in coming months is given further strength by the rebound in core sector growth in September and a pick-up in the exports.
    • India is not alone in seeing a rebound in growth. Industrial output is witnessing strong growth in Asian countries, helped by low interest rates across the region.
  • NELP VIII round evokes poor response from investors
    • Drawing a poor response, India’s largest oil and gas licensing round saw a total of 76 bids being received for 36 out of 70 blocks on offer.
    • While Reliance Industries abstained from bidding for the 70 exploration blocks on offer, companies like BHP Biliton of Australia, BG of UK and Cairn Energy were the only notable companies besides home grown giants like ONGC that put forth their bids.
    • Of the 10 coal bed methane (CBM) blocks on offer, bids were received only for 8. RIL bid for one block.
    • Of the 24 deep water blocks on offer, bids were received only for eight. 13 shallow water blocks received bids while 10 small on-land blocks got 37 bids while five larger on-land blocks got 10 bids.
    • The poor response is attributed to the Ambani brothers’ gas dispute.
  • Scrap outcome budget says Montek Singh Ahluwalia
    • Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday junked the exercise of producing outcome budget every year terming it a futile effort that did not produce the desired results. He instead emphasised developing a foolproof evaluation process with government spending up to 1% of the administrative budget, approximately Rs 850 crore, of all its ministries, including the spend on salaries into it.
    • The government started the practise producing outcome budget few years back to show the progress of various government programmes. It has now decided set up a separate independent evaluation office (IEO) to assess the progress of the government’s flagship schemes in benefiting the poor.
  • RBI to widen the scope of BCs?
    • RBI is reportedly in favour of widening the scope of the Banking Correspondents for providing banking and financial services to the unbanked.
    • The BCs were to be allowed to conduct banking business as agents of the banks at places other than the bank premises. These included intermediaries such as, NGOs/ Farmers’ Clubs, cooperatives, community based organisations, IT enabled rural outlets of corporate entities, Post Offices, insurance agents, among others, besides micro-finance institutions.
  • Want a lowdown on value averaging investments?
    • Look no further. This article explains the concept beautifully.
Nobel for Economics
  • Elinor Ostrom, political scientist who strayed into economics, and Oliver Williamson, both American academics, have been honoured for work that illuminates the working of non-market institutions.
  • Prof Ostrom has studied several institutional arrangements of user-regulated use of commons that are superior to either privatisation or reliance solely on government regulation. Her work also shows that rather than rationally optimising costs and benefits on an individual basis, people are willing to accept avoidable personal cost to enforce rules that benefit the community. Man is not just a rational animal, but also a social animal. Animal spirits of a slightly different kind have been the subject Prof Oliver Williamson’s scrutiny, namely, what causes certain activities to be done within the non-market boundaries of a firm, while certain other activities are left to the market. Transaction costs is the short explanation. There is an insight in it for the outsourcing industry: the better they can specify outcomes in a contractually binding and easily enforceable fashion, the more generation of such outcomes would be taken out of the firm and placed in the market, that is, outsourced. (Excerpted from today's ET editorial)
Education
  • A very good article that looks at reforming education system from a different perspective
    • Take a look at today's article by Ashwani Windlass on the subject. The thrust of this approach is that all the stakeholders in the education system have to be seen as a continuum so that we can realise economic opportunities missed due to an underperforming education sector.
    • Take a look at it here, to understand what it means.
Miscellany
  • Buckingham Palace to dance to Bollywood tunes
    • Buckingham Palace is to swing to the hefty rhythms of Bollywood music and dance in what promises to be a boisterous celebration in anticipation of a coming visit by President Pratibha Patil.
    • British Asian dance group Nutkhut is to stage its massive dance, Bollywood Steps, inside Buckingham Palace on Tuesday in a reception in advance of Ms Patil’s October 24-27 visit, a first for the 172-year-old royal residence.

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