Politics & the Nation
  • "Indo US ties to shape up the Century" says Obama
    • What a headline to savour with your morning cuppa!
    • In the absence of a big-ticket initiative, the Indian PM's visit, coming as it does soon after the comments of Obama while on his visit to China, looked like as if it is destined for being confined to diplomatic niceties. But Obama appears to know quite well how to make grand statements and mollify the visiting PM.
    • Besides, the two leaders announced new efforts to promote trade and investment, higher education and develop and transfer clean technology. The two sides also agreed to increase counterterrorism by way of cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
    • There are three specific areas where India and the US have a clear difference in approach. These include climate change, China’s role in the region and the issue of how to tackle terrorism coming out of Pakistan. India has clear markers on these issues. On climate change, India has shown that it is ready to show some amount of flexibility but cannot acquiesce to the US demand for a legally-binding cap on emission. India is uncomfortable with the current trajectory of Sino-US ties and also with the US approach to Pakistan and terrorism.
  • A critique of the government's ATR on Liberhan Commission report (excerpted from today's report on the subject).
    • Though a very long excerpt, we decided to give it because we found that it is one subject that is going to stay in public memory for a long, long time to come. Take a look...
    • The 13-page ATR prepared by the government, listing out measures taken by it in keeping with the panel’s recommendations proved to be a disappointment.
    • Like the suggestions themselves, the government was vague and evasive in its responses. The ATR, for instance, does not talk of filing any new cases against those held responsible for the demolition, directly or indirectly, and merely lists the status of cases pending in various courts on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid demolition (Case No. 197/92, FIR against lakhs of unknown kar sewaks in the special court, Lucknow; Case No. 198/92, FIR against 8 accused in the Rae Bareli special court; and 47 other cases pending in the Lucknow special court).
    • The government also pointed out that it had already drafted the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill. This was in response to the Commission’s recommendation of enacting a special law providing for exemplary punishment for misuse of religion, caste, etc., for political gains or illicit acquisition of political or other power.
    • On the panel’s desire that the demerger of religion and politics must be studied and implemented at the earliest, emphasised repeatedly all through, the government merely said it had “noted’’ the suggestion. Again, while the Liberhan Commission wanted the government to look into the possibility of barring a government which is formed on the premise of religion or which has religious issues on its agenda, the government merely said that it will examine the matter further.
    • The report came out with a host of proposals for toning up the civil service, and to ensure their independence, and to disrupt the politician-bureaucrat-policeman nexus. “UPSC is examining changes in the recruitment procedure for the All India Service officers,’’ the ATR pointed out. It said police reforms were already there in its agenda.
    • The government, on the other hand, rejected the commission’s recommendation to confer statutory powers on the National Integration Council, arguing that the proposal may not be practical. ``The council has been set up primarily to act as an advisory body to advise the government and other institutions of civil society to advance the cause of secularism and to preserve unity, integrity and communal harmony,’’ ATR mentioned.
  • A very good editorial piece on the eve of the 25th Anniversary of the scrapping of the Silent Valley Project
    • Many of you might not have been born when Silent Valley Project was a raging issue.
    • Take a look at this good piece.
  • On reforming our education system
    • This is a very good piece on the subject which is well worth our attention. Take a look. An excerpt that defines what is a liberal arts education:
    • Liberal arts education imparts an all-round training. It sensitises human mind by delving deeper into a subject, critically analysing it from a multi-dimensional perspective and expressing such analyses in a cogent manner. Considerable emphasis is given to development of writing skills. As the skill of communicating original ideas develops, it spurs new ideas. Thus, analytical writing synergises creative ideas. Besides, such education also ensures that children do not get burnt out due to academic pressure in high school.
  • Company Law Board acting Chairman arrested on bribery charges
    • It is a very unusual case. For it's perhaps the first ever time that the CBI arrested both the bribe giver and the bribe taker as both were unaware that the CBI is following them. Read on...
Finance & Economy
  • Power firms surrender trading licences to CERC
    • The government’s plan to ensure a balanced growth of the power market in the country by encouraging trading of power has received a severe jolt with as many as six companies surrendering their trading licences to the power sector regulator Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC). More surrender of licences are reportedly in pipeline in the coming months from companies such as MMTC, Jindal Steel and Power, GMR Energy, Sarda Energy and Minerals, and Mahalaxmi Energy Trading.
    • While companies say the prevailing adverse financial situation and a shift in their business strategy were reasons for the surrender, analysts point out that a low ceiling on the trading margin (4 paise per unit) fixed by CERC and competition provided by the power exchanges were also acting as disincentives.
    • Trading is a licensed activity under the Electricity Act, 2003. Under the Act, trading is defined as an activity involving purchase of electricity for resale thereof. So far, CERC, which grants licence for power trading, has granted 44 licences for inter-state trading in electricity.
  • Indo-US ties have less urgency for the Obama administration than ties with Pakistan or China, but have more long-term importance. Comment.
    • If you are asked such a question, nothing can be a perfect answer than this piece by SSA Aiyar. A very good one and a must read for all those who want to understand the nuances in US policy towards South Asia.
Language lessons
  • booby prize: Noun
    • A prize given to one who finishes last in a contest
  • stodgy: Adjective
    • (used pejoratively) out of fashion; old fashioned
    • eg: Whether it is the established MNC, the aggressive start-up, the stodgy family-run business or the new-age retail business, CEO poaching is the latest game in town.
  • sorority: Noun
    • A social club for female undergraduates
  • verdure: Noun
    • Green foliage; The lush appearance of flourishing vegetation
  • regress: Noun
    • The reasoning involved when you assume the conclusion is true and reason backward to the evidence; Returning to a former state
    • eg: A strong trade union movement with deep access to the political establishment supported the project, dismissing environmental concerns as romantic regress.