Politics & the Nation
  • The Reliance brothers dispute before the Supreme Court takes a sudden turn; one of the judges in the SC recuses himself from hearing the case
    • All of you might be aware of the ongoing dispute regarding the division of KG basin gas between the two Reliance brothers, before the Supreme Court.
    • Yesterday, all of a sudden, one of the judges hearing the case viz., Justice R.V. Raveendran recused himself from hearing the case. He had done so when he came to know that the legal firm (AZB) in which his daughter is working is advising one of the parties (RIL) in the case being heard by him.
    • However, the law firm has nothing to do with the current case, Justice Raveendran clarified.
  • LeT targets National Defence College
    • That the Lashker-e-Taiba is plotting overtime to hit India and among the targets could be the country’s leading boarding schools located in Uttarakhand, the National Defence College, Delhi was uncovered during an interrogation of arrested US national and LeT recruit David Coleman Headley by FBI.
    • LeT believes this would give them wide coverage in the international media.
Finance & Economy
  • Finance Ministry comes to the rescue of ADA Group for raising ECBs abroad
    • Take a look at this graphic which gives the issue in brief. It is self explanatory.
  • Credit growth shrinks
    • According to the latest figures released by the Reserve Bank of India, total loans, including food credit and non-food credit amounted to Rs 28,68,565 crore as on October 23. Both food credit and non-food credit dipped during the fortnight by Rs 6,708 crore and Rs 15,401crore, respectively. While food credit includes loans to Food Corporation of India for foodgrain procurement, nonfood credit consists of loans to farmers, individuals as well as businesses.
    • On a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, growth in nonfood credit works out to 10.31% as compared to 29% growth seen in the previous year. Many large banks have pruned their loan growth targets for the year, after the RBI pruned its projection for credit growth to 18% in its quarterly review of monetary policy last week from 20% earlier.
  • Don't backtrack on financial sector reforms, says Montek Singh Ahluwalia
    • The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman was cautioning the country against slowing down on financial sector reforms. He feels that there is no need to be too fearful about the negative impact of the global financial crisis on India and that the country should not shy away from proceeding ahead with reform agenda. Some snippets of info worthy our attention in this context:
    • Foreign direct investment in the first half of the 2009-10 (April-September) stood at over $15 billion, almost equivalent to portfolio investments in the same period.
    • There is an ongoing debate in the government on the pace of economic reforms in the back-drop of the global financial melt-down that affected the more liberalised Western world more than the relatively conservative economies like India.
  • Should banks get into insurance business?
    • This question is discussed at great length in this piece that appeared in ET today. A very good one. A must read.
  • India's totalisation agreements
    • It has five social security agreements or ‘totalisation agreements’, with Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Totalisation is the process of mutual agreement by two national governments to avoid guest workers paying social security contributions in both the home and host countries, adding, in most cases, to their employers’ costs.
  • Should Israel be tried for crimes against humanity? In its recent war on Gaza?
    • The war on Gaza, called Operation Cast Lead, left more than 1,200 Palestinians — including scores of children — dead, and devastated the insanely overcrowded, impoverished strip. Afterwards, given the outcry, the United Nations Human Rights Council called for an investigation. And Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, agreed to lead it. His report, which accused Israel of waging war on the entire population of Gaza, led to angry denunciations and predictable rejection from the Zionist regime. It is probable, given its habitual practice, that Israel could have labelled the judge and the report anti-semitic. Except for the fact that the man happens to be a Jew and a self-confessed Zionist at that! And one who led investigations into genocides both in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, and whose stated objective was to evaluate Gaza on humanitarian law.
    • This brings us back to the question -- should Israel be tried before the International Court of Justice?
    • Take a look at this thought provoking piece that appeared in today's ET. The above is an extract from it. It does raise some questions.
  • On waste management
    • The Manufacturers Association for Information Technology estimates that India itself generated about 330,000 tonnes of e-waste last year, besides illegally importing an additional 50,000 tonnes.
    • An international convention on management of waste is the Basle Convention (1989) on trans-frontier movement of waste. The convention allows wastes which can be recycled.
    • The UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 accepted two broad principles:
      • One is the 'polluter pays' principle. The other is on internalisation of environmental costs of production.
    • Money from waste
      • Today, many entrepreneurs are busy collecting the trash and converting it into cash.
      • For example, the Chennai-based Gupta Group with an annual turnover of Rs 225 crore has been processing discarded human hair — a $1 billion market — and exporting it since 1974 to Korea, Italy and China. A Mumbai start-up, Sustainable Technologies and Environmental Projects uses a thermal catalytic conversion method, ‘polycrack’, to convert plastic and organic waste like kitchen, animal and agro refuse into petroleum fuels. A company in Noida ships PCBs to Belgium, Japan and Malaysia for metal extraction and the wires to Singapore. The department of chemical engineering at Jadavpur University extracts dyes from waste flowers for use in the textile industry and for bio-fertilisers. The Mumbai-based Rs 110-crore Gujarat Reclaim and Rubber Products recycles old rubber from tyres. Style Solutions at Manesar, near Gurgaon, processes slaughterhouse waste into raw material for medicines, aquatic and poultry feed, pet food and fertilisers. Sugarcane stalks called bagasse produces steam and electricity. Likewise, methane generated by municipal solid waste produces energy.
Obituary: Claude Levi Strauss
  • This French anthropologist who transformed Western understanding of what was once called “primitive man” and who towered over the French intellectual scene in the 1960s and ’70s, has died at 100.
  • A powerful thinker, he became an avatar of “structuralism,” a school of thought in which universal “structures” were believed to underlie all human activity, giving shape to seemingly disparate cultures and creations.
  • Mythologiques, his four-volume work about the structure of native mythology in the Americas, attempts nothing less than an interpretation of the world of culture and custom, shaped by analysis of several hundred myths of little-known tribes and traditions. The volumes — The Raw and the Cooked, From Honey to Ashes, The Origin of Table Mannersand The Naked Man, published from 1964 to 1971 — challenge the reader with their complex interweaving of theme and detail.
  • His interpretations of North and South American myths were pivotal in changing Western thinking about so-called primitive societies.
Language lessons
  • corpulent: Adjective
    • Excessively fat
    • eg: If once upon a time, policemen were invariably portrayed as earnest upright men with clipped moustaches, today they are usually depicted as corpulent and corrupt...
  • lasicvious: Adjective
    • Driven by lust; preoccupied with or exhibiting lustful desires
  • doctrinaire: Noun
    • A stubborn person of arbitrary or arrogant opinions
  • hoi polloi: Noun
    • The common people generally