20.10.2009

Politics & the Nation
  • China building a dam across Brahmaputra?
    • The Congress-led UPA government has come under enormous pressure to act on reports about China’s plans to build a dam on the river Brahmaputra in Tibet. With Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi expressing serious concern over the development, the issue likely to become a political hot potato for the Congress state government unless the Centre is seen to be making efforts to stop the construction of the dam.
  • Situation in Pakistan very grim
    • With the Taliban, which has thrown the Pakistani security establishment in a tizzy by executing as many as six major terror attacks within the country in the last fortnight, threatening to expand its zone of influence by bringing India within its jihadi framework, defence minister AK Antony warned that the situation in the western neighbourhood was “very grim and serious”, but asserted, at the same time, the country’s readiness to meet “any challenge”.
  • IIT entrance to have more weightage for Class XII result
    • Finding that Class XII exams and their results are becoming irrelevant by the day because of the excessive emphasis placed on the IIT and other entrance exams, the Centre decided to set up two committees to look into the issue.
    • The first, headed by Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar, will draw up a vision statement for IITs. The second committee will comprise department of science and technology secretary T Ramasami, department of biotechnology secretary M K Bhan and CSIR director general Samir Brahmachari. This will focus on the curriculum.
    • This decision to make the class XII exam relevant to the IIT admission process was taken at the meeting of the IIT council on Monday.
Finance & Economy
  • New inflation index will debut on Nov 14
    • The main barometer of inflation will debut in its revamped form on November 14. The updated wholesale price index (WPI), which will be made available monthly, instead of every week now, will have a wider and updated basket of products and a more recent base year -- 2004-05.
    • The new WPI will take into account price movements in more than 850 articles as against 435 commodities in the current index, which was last revised in April 2000.
    • India has one wholesale price index which is released weekly with a time lag of two weeks. There are three consumer price indices for industrial workers, rural workers and farm labourers, with data releases every month.
    • Though WPI is the key measure of inflation in India, it is not considered reliable as in any given week the prices of only about 16%-20% of the products included in the basket are updated. This is largely the reason that provisional figures are often revised sharply when more data becomes available. The monthly frequency of the new index will make the data more reliable.
    • Economists have long voiced the need for a good consumer price index (CPI) as the main measure of inflation. The CPI is the official inflation indicator in major economies such as the United States, Japan, China and the euro region. While the WPI measures changes in price levels for businesses, it cannot serve as an indicator of inflation at the retail level.
    • Take a look at this graphic; it is well worth our attention as it says figuratively what all we have noted above.
  • Who is Raj Rajaratnam and why is his arrest in New York making ripples in Indian and South Asian markets?
    • He is reportedly the richest Sri Lankan in the world. He has just been arrested on charges of insider trading in the US along with two others -- Anil Kumar, a McKinsey & Co director based in Silicon Valley, and Rajiv Goel, a director of strategic investments at Intel Capital. Besides, he is the founder of New York based hedge fund Galleon which has substantial investments all over the world especially in South Asia.
    • Edelweiss Capital is Galleon’s fourth-largest shareholding after eBay, Apple and Google. The fund’s other investments in India include that in Pipavav Shipyard (0.3% of equity share capital) and Reliance Telecom Infrastructure (RTIL), both pre-IPO investments.
    • Since Galleon normally invested around $5-25 million where a good book was built during an IPO, some bankers felt that investors in the hedge fund would now look at redemption and this could create pressure on the fund to liquidate its investments.
    • Read this news story and make out what you can. Don't you
  • Understanding the consumption patterns in the country
    • An excellent analysis on the subject appeared in today's ET. Take a look.
  • Here is an excellent primer on socio economic classification
  • UAE is top export destination for Indian goods
    • United Arab Emirates has become the top destination for Indian exports in fiscal 2009 (April-March), displacing the US from the No 1 rank on account of a sharp rise in gems and jewellery exports.
    • The country’s total exports to the UAE grew by a phenomenal 53% to $23.92 billion in FY09 from $15.63 billion in FY08 even as exports to the US remained almost flat at $20.82 billion, according to the latest commerce ministry data. Notably, exports to the Gulf country were even higher than the combined exports to China and Hong Kong, which added up to about $16 billion during the fiscal.
    • Take a look at this graphic for knowing some other important export destinations for Indian goods.
Science & Technology
  • On rare earths
    • It is an interesting story. Many of you might remember rare earths as some of those elements that are tucked away somewhere in the periodic table that we read as part of our Chemistry classes. Is there a need to focus on them? If so, why? To get a comprehensive picture, do read this piece that appeared in today's op-ed. But some excerpts for us:
    • Rare earths are essential ingredients in mobile phones, video game machines, computers and even green technologies.
    • For example tantalum, a shiny, blue grey metal, can make batteries smaller even while storing more power. It also goes into modern nuclear reactors and lethal smart bombs.
    • Tiny amounts of two other rare earths dysprosium or terbium might soon be used in electric cars: they let batteries work at high temperatures.
    • For many years, India was the world’s largest producer of these rare minerals, mined from coastal sand. Till 1948, India was the world’s largest producer of rare earths. Today, it’s nowhere. India now is largely a coal and iron ore mining country.
    • Now, one country controls 95% of these minerals of the future: China.
    • If India has to become a significant player in tomorrow’s technologies, it needs to draw up special rules for rare earths. These rules should insulate investors from the clutches of state politicians and bureaucracies. And it’ll require New Delhi to draft special provisions for rare earths in its draft mining legislation.
  • More new planets found outside solar system
    • Astronomers have found 32 new planets outside the solar system, adding evidence to the theory that the universe has many places where life could develop.
    • The announcement increased the number of planets discovered outside the solar system to more than 400.
Medicine
  • India heading for diabetes explosion
    • India leads the world in the looming epidemic of diabetes, the 20th annual World Diabetes Congress of the International Diabetic Federation (IDF) was told here on Monday.
    • In its annual report, the IDF said India currently has the highest number of 50.8 million people suffering from diabetes, followed by China with 43.2 million and the US with 26.8 million. The report projected 58.7 million diabetes cases in India by 2010 - almost 7 percent of its adult population.
    • By 2030, over 8.4 percent of the Indian adult population will suffer from diabetes, thanks to the increasing life expectancy and urbanization, the report said.
    • There are estimated to be 285 million diabetes cases worldwide, accounting for seven per cent of the world’s population.
    • Diabetes, along with cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, accounts for 60 percent ff all deaths worldwide.
Language lessons
  • Rolodex: Noun
    • (trademark) a desktop rotary card index with removable cards; usually used for names, addresses, and telephone numbers
    • eg: "a news reporter has to have a good Rolodex"
  • Blighty: Noun
    • A slang term for Great Britain used by British troops serving abroad
  • Beeb
    • It stands for the BBC
  • invective: Noun
    • Abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will
  • diffidence: Noun
    • Lack of self confidence

2 comments:

Satish Mantha said...

In Raj Rajaratnam's points, did you intend to provide a link when you said, "Read this news story and make out what you can?"
Please ignore the comment if you did not.
Thank you.

icamaven said...

Thanks for pointing it out. Since given the link.