26.11.2009

Politics & the Nation
  • We are really proud of our President
    • Take a look at this picture of our President flying in a Sukhoi plane.
    • It is really a matter of pride not just for the country's C-in-C but for the entire country. In the process she created history. Bravo President. By flying a Sukhoi at 74, you have sent us all a clear message.
  • India and US ask Pakistan to act against terror
    • On the eve of the first anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama stepped up pressure on Pakistan, saying that it was imperative on its part to bring to justice the perpetrators’ of the attack.
    • India and the US have also signed an MoU on counter-terrorism and five other agreements. Besides the memorandum of understand-ing on ‘advancing global security and countering terrorism’, the two countries signed pacts covering education and development, health cooperation, economic trade and agriculture, and green partnerships.
    • Meanwhile Pakistan is reported to have framed charges against seven accused.
    • While Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was coined as the mastermind, six others - Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum were accused as handlers/facilitators.
    • A special anti-terror court was set up in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi to prosecute them. All the seven had pleaded not guilty.
    • They have been reportedly charged under the anti-terrorism act and the Pakistani penal law. The charges include providing training, financial support, accommodation, equipment and communication gear to the 10 terrorists who had attacked Mumbai, including the lone survivor Ajmal Amir Kasab, who is now in India’s custody.
  • If you are a BJP baiter, this excerpt from today's ET editorial would help you sharpen you criticising abilities against that party:
    • If political forces that seek to redefine Indian nationhood in terms of the religion of the majority had come to power at the Centre, it’s not just the Chidambaram reforms that would have been scuttled. A certain political climate has made refugee camps of the 2002 Gujarat pogroms a vital life support system for its inmates even today, nearly eight years later. If that sort of climate change had spread to the rest of the nation, as a result of the elections in May this year, local support for Mumbai-like assaults would be far more readily available. Misbegotten ideologies and their fanatical followers can sprout in limited numbers under any given conditions. But if conditions favour their growth across the minority space of the polity, policing would cease to be effective. But then, conditions have, if anything, turned more positive for inclusive growth. That is a plus.
    • The comments were made in the context of the first anniversary of the Mumabai terror attacks.
  • Today is National Law Day
    • November 26 is celebrated as National Law Day because it was on this day in 1949 that the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the Constitution, which then came into effect on January 26, 1950.
    • Take a look at the address to the Nation by the Chief Justice of India on this occasion.
Finance & Economy
  • The battle lines for control of EIH (East India Hotels) are clearly drawn now
    • We have noticed the reports that appeared about Analjit Singh's acquisition interests in EIH sometime back. He is joining hands with the Oberois for getting a controlling stake in EIH. A bit about him and Oberois.
    • Mr Singh has built and sold many businesses — the most notable of which was his exit from mobile operator Max Telecom in favour of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa. The serial entrepreneur’s Max Group has interests in consumer-facing businesses such as telecom, healthcare and insurance.
    • Founded in 1934, the Oberoi group operates 27 hotels under the luxury Oberoi and five-star Trident brands. Its other businesses include inflight catering, airport restaurants, travel and tour services, car rentals, project management and corporate air charters.
    • EIH is currently controlled by the ITC group, with a 14.98% stake. Oberois own 43%. They are reported to be selling 17% stake to Analjit Singh for Rs. 1250 crores. He is expected to buy another 9% from the open market. Thus put together they will get to hold 52% stake in EIH.
    • It is a matter of time before management of EIH changes hands.
  • A recap on the issue of transfer pricing
    • Transfer pricing refers to price charged by an MNC from its associate firm for supply of goods and services. As transfer prices can be used by companies to shift profits out of the country and thus escape taxes, India, like many other countries, put regulation in 2001 to check these violations.
    • Transfer pricing disputes are of significant concern to companies in a globalised economy where 70% of the deals are within group companies. India is no exception. Tax officers here are often accused of making aggressive assessments and high-pitched demands on MNCs. These companies can now move the DRP (Dispute Resolution Panel), which will have wide-ranging powers, and file their objections to assessing officer’s draft order. The resolution process is expected to be unbiased, as the DRP would comprise three income-tax commissioners.
  • MBAs among you would love this piece
    • It is about measuring corporate performance, from a Harvard Business School working paper.
International
  • A very good commentary / criticism / solutions on and for reforming the fat pay at banking and financial institutions
    • From TT Ram Mohan. Take a look. Some excerpts:
    • Why should excessive executive pay at private institutions like Goldman Sachs not the 'in thing' to do in the present times? How are these present times different from the past?
    • First, the taxpayer’s safety net for banks, which exists even in normal times, has since been extended to non-bank players, including Goldman Sachs. The net itself has grown bigger and stronger. It has included not just lender of last resort backing from the central bank but guarantees for various liabilities.
    • Secondly, some players, notably Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, were allowed to fail while others were rescued through capital infusion and other means. This meant that the survivors stood to prosper in a more concentrated market.
    • Thirdly, banks have benefited from attempts to stimulate economies through sharp reductions in interest rates. In other words, bankers have gained from policy measures that were required to clean up the mess that they had created in the first place.
    • Therefore, it is hard to make the case that booming profits today at banks such as Goldman are the result entirely of sound risk management or superior investment banking skills or even a favourable trading environment.
Language lessons
  • cooper: Noun
    • A craftsman who makes or repairs wooden barrels or tubs
  • profundity: Noun
    • Wisdom that is recondite and abstruse and profound; Intellectual depth; penetrating knowledge; keen insight; etc; The intellectual ability to penetrate deeply into ideas; The quality of being physically deep
  • recondite: Adjective
    • Difficult to penetrate; incomprehensible to one of ordinary understanding or knowledge
  • apparatchik: Noun
    • A humorous but derogatory term for an official of a large organization (especially a political organization); A communist who was a member of the administrative system of a communist party

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