Politics & the Nation
  • National solar Mission set for launch
    • After a series of consultations with stakeholders, the government has formulated the ambitious National Solar Mission implementation plan to be launched soon.
    • The National Solar Mission document which sets a target of 20,000 MW for solar power by 2020 was in principle approved by Prime Minister's Council of Climate Change in its meeting last month.
    • The solar mission sets a goal of making the country dependent on renewable energy.
    • The other missions currently under formulationa are: the national mission on enhanced energy efficiency that will have a target of about Rs 75,000 crore worth transactions in energy efficient systems, on water efficiency, on sustainable habitat and afforestation and agriculture.
Finance & Economy
  • Look Ma ... Buffett's is betting!
    • Warren Buffett, the world's famous investor is betting big on the US economy. This at a time when there are more skeptics about US economy than there were at any time in the past. He reinforced his belief by investing so heavily -- reportedly the single largest investment that his Berkshire Hathaway made ever -- in a single company. That is a railroad company in which he already holds a substantial stake.
    • If we say Warren Buffett is taking a big gamble, chances are that many will pooh pooh the idea. Time only should tell whether or not the investment that he is making will yield the kind of results that his investments so far have yielded.
  • Take a look at this quirk of tax policy / administration mechanism. It ensures that subsidy that is meant for the poor ends up in state treasuries instead.
  • Is the government's intention of providing Air India (AI) with an aid of Rs. 2,000 crores going to solve the troubles of the National Carrier?
    • Take a look at these facts and figures before coming to any conclusion:
    • AI’s working capital liabilities have quadrupled to Rs 16,000 crore in under three years. Its latest annual results show a 12% drop in revenues to Rs 13,479 crore. Besides, last year alone, its losses added up to a whopping Rs 5,548 crore. Till recently, AI was on an aircraft-buying spree despite being thoroughly in the red. Reports say that AI plans to reduce its fleet size to 100-105 from the current 132.
  • RIL to join hunt for shale gas
    • So reads a headline. What is shale gas?
    • Shale gas is natural gas produced from shale — a fine grained sedimentary rock composed of flakes of clay and minerals like quartz and calcite.
    • The future of energy is a low-carbon regime. Shale gas is one such example. It is somewhat like coal-bed methane and is on land. The US has made major strides in the technology in shale gas that has made it now a commercial proposition.
    • The cost of production of shale gas has fallen by 80% over the past five years in the US with new technologies and fiscal incentives provided by that country to encourage exploration.
    • The largest known reserves of this gas is found in Canada and the US followed by Australia and some parts of Europe.
    • It is estimated that almost 50% of North America’s energy consumption in the world be met by shale gas by 2020.
  • US yet to appoint an ambassador to WTO
    • Launched in November 2001, the Doha Round seeks to open up world markets in goods and services further. It has suffered setbacks in the past eight years due to conflict of interest between developed countries, including the EU and the US, and leading developing countries such as India, China and Brazil. Several issues relating to agriculture and industrial goods have held up the talks.
  • Is there an eastward shift in global markets?
    • Yes there is. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of listed companies on the Nasdaq stock market and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) dropped by 16% and 3% respectively, while the Asian markets increased significantly, with India growing 47%, South Korea 157% and Singapore 62%.
    • A similar eastward swing has occurred with regard to market capitalisation of the world’s stock exchanges. Between 2003 and 2008, the Nasdaq and NYSE decreased by 16% and 19% respectively, while the Asian markets enjoyed significant increases. India surged 132%, Shanghai 296%, and Hong Kong 86%.
    • Many economists believe the recovery will be driven by a new phenomenon: growing consumer spending in emerging markets, with India in the forefront. This shift towards consumer-led growth in emerging countries will transform these areas into important import markets for the world’s manufacturers.
    • Not only this, a great deal of the eastward tilt stems from the escalating flow of capital across borders in recent years. Since the introduction of the reform process in the early 1990s, India has witnessed a significant increase in capital inflows — in the form of foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investment, external commercial borrowing and non-resident Indians’ inward remittances. The size of net capital inflows to India rose from $7.1 billion in 1990-91 to $108 billion in 2007-08. Today, India has one of the highest net capital inflows among the emerging market economies of Asia.
    • For an explanation of the factors that is leading to this eastward shift, read this article by Jim Quigley, the CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
  • What is special about November 11?
    • It is variously called Armistice Day, Veterans Day or Remembrance Day around the world.
    • This is the day on which World War I ended.
    • Now it’s more or less a generic day honouring any soldiers who’ve died in battle, in every Commonwealth country, Europe and the US.
    • The day is remembered by wearing red poppies -- or red paper blotches on lapels -- for almost a month before and after November 11. Tradition has it that these ubiquitous red poppies kept on blooming in the killing fields of Flanders.
  • Sachin gets into trouble with Shiv Sena
    • Sachin Tendulkar was in the midst of a controversy with Bal Thackeray accusing the cricket icon of hurting Marathi sentiments with his “Mumbai for all” remark.
    • In an interaction with the media on completing 20 years in international cricket, Tendulkar had said, “I am a Maharashtrian and I am extremely proud of that. But I am an Indian first. And Mumbai belongs to all Indians.”
Language lessons
  • sputtering
    • Noun: The noise of something spattering or sputtering explosively
    • Verb: Make an explosive sound; Cause to undergo a process in which atoms are removed; Climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling; Utter with a spitting sound, as if in a rage; Spit up in an explosive manner
    • eg: "Our economy was sputtering, still is sputtering some."
  • antsy: Adjective
    • Nervous and unable to relax
    • eg: ...That meant antsy stakeholders, falling sales and a bone-dry investment tap.
  • bone-dry: Adjective
    • Without a trace of moisture; as dry as a weathered bone
  • munificent: Adjective
    • Very generous
    • eg: "a munificent gift"; "his father gave him a half-dollar and his mother a quarter and he thought them munificent"