Politics & the Nation
  • Jamiat asks Muslims to shun TV, cinema and anti-AIDS campaign among others
    • Recommend a read of this news story that appeared in today's ET. Look at the edicts that are passed by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, the country's leading Islamic body.
  • Alarming poverty in South Asia
    • Over 300 million children in South Asia, almost half the total number, suffer from chronic levels of poverty, a latest UN report has found.
    • Unlike any other region in the world, due to persistent and deep inequalities in South Asia, children in the region are trapped in an unrelenting cycle of discrimination at several levels.
    • UNICEF is proposing a shift in the definition of poverty from being income specific to factors of deprivation and well-being, which can lead to more comprehensive policy responses.
Finance & Economy
  • RBI chips in for bringing clarification on foreign investment guidelines
    • Laying down foreign investment guidelines is in the domain of DIPP - Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion.
    • Under the new guidelines, which were issued in February, all direct and indirect overseas investments were counted as foreign investment, putting the foreign ownership of ICICI Bank at 65% and HDFC at 74%. The guidelines have created confusion and led to concerns that it could allow indirect foreign entry into forbidden sectors such as multi-brand retail through layered corporate arrangements where the initial foreign investment is kept below 50%.
    • ICICI Bank operates a life insurance JV with Prudential of the UK and a general insurance business with Lombard of Canada. HDFC has partnered Standard Life and Germany’s ERGO. Both ICICI and HDFC have been fearing that these guidelines will create hurdles for them.
    • Now the RBI has reportedly written to the government saying that control of a company, not just its ownership, should be taken into account while determining foreign investment, particularly in the financial services sector. Such an interpretation will mean that investments by ICICI Bank and HDFC, both majority foreign-owned but controlled by Indians, will be regarded as domestic investment. This will enable them to retain their investments in their businesses in insurance, a sector where foreign ownership is capped at 26%.
  • RBI buys gold from IMF
    • In a reverse of the situation that prevailed back in 1991 when it had to pawn its gold reserves with Bank of England and Bank of Switzerland to get the much needed US dollars, the RBI has bought about 200 tonnes of gold from the IMF for about $ 7 bn.
    • For a fair commentary on the move, read today's ET editorial on the subject. It is here.
    • But a few snippets that are worth our attention:
      • Total central bank holdings of gold is around 30,000 tonnes, the same level as 60 years ago, over which period world output has grown some 13 times.
      • For many year’s the central bank gold holdings remained constant at about 11.5 million troy ounce accounting for 4% its reserves worth $285 billion now.
      • The recent purchase of close to 6.5 million troy ounce would raise the share of gold in India’s foreign exchange reserves to about 6%.
      • In its official release, IMF has said that the total sales proceeds are equivalent to US$ 6.7 billion or SDR 4.2 billion.
    • BTW do you know the difference between an ounce and a troy ounce?
      • 1 oz(troy) = 31.1034 gms
      • 1 ounce = 28.35 gms
  • An excellent article on competition law that is peppered with some great thoughts.
    • Take a look. We think you should preserve a copy of this for future reference.
    • Some quotable quotes from this article:
      • “A lawyer who has not studied economics is very apt to become a public enemy” - Justice Brandeis of the US Supreme Court
      • “Words have sometimes to be harsh since they represent an assault on the thought of the unthinking" Lork Keynes.
Science & Technology
  • Are you an IITian? Or a BITsian?
    • If so, compare your thoughts and dreams with this one that appeared in today's ET. We are sure, many of you will follow the lead and come up with bigger dreams. We surely are going to read and learn more about this dream as well as yours.
    • It's all about a path-breaking technology that is tentatively being called Sixth Sense.
Language lessons
  • cummberbund: Noun
    • A broad pleated sash worn as formal dress with a dinner jacket
  • kilter: Noun
    • In working order
  • slouching: Verb
    • Assume a drooping posture or carriage; Walk slovenly
  • slovenly: Adjective
    • Negligent of neatness especially in dress and person; habitually dirty and unkempt