Politics & the Nation
  • Tata's show the way for reservations in India Inc
    • The Tatas were the first to bring many material things to India — power, star hotels and steel, to name a few. The $71-billion group with interests from tea-to-telecom is also now probably the first to introduce a hiring policy that emphasises ‘positive discrimination’ for its scores of enterprises located across the country from the seashores to deserts to mountain tops.
  • Spectrum allocation to defence
    • The defence forces will get exclusive rights to 10% of the airwaves, or spectrum, that can be used for commercial telephony services and broadcast services.
    • The armed forces will get 70% of all airwaves within 50 km of the international boundary in the non-communication bands. In the rest of the country, they will get 30% of all frequencies in non-communication bands.
    • This is part of a full and final settlement between the defence and communications ministries to end a four-year standoff on vacation of spectrum by the armed forces. The exclusive spectrum assigned to the armed forces will all be classified into the 'defence spectrum band'. A defence interest zone of 50 km along the international borders will also be created to address security concerns of the armed forces.
    • In addition, the settlement involves the $$(DoT) providing a Rs 10,000-crore alternate network fibre cable for the armed forces by December 2012. The armed forces will move a bulk of their communication requirements to this network, thus freeing up airwaves for commercial telephony.
  • Kaushik Basu is the new CEA
    • This Professor from Cornell University is the new Chief Economic Advisor in the finance ministry.
    • Read more about him here.
Finance & Economy
  • Trouble brewing on the country's stand at Copenhagen negotiations?
    • A couple of the key members in the negotiating team for Copenhagen climate negotiations appear to be not getting on well with the Minister for Environment Mr. Jairam Ramesh. The developments that are throwing a shadow over our negotiating position at Copenhagen:
      • Jairam Ramesh told Lok Sabha on Thursday that India will bring down carbon intenstity by 20-25% between 2005 and 2020. The fear is that we have shifted the red lines for negotiations.
      • Is the minister talking about cuts above the 17% reduction we have achieved during 1990-2005?
      • What are the incremental costs of such reduction targets? What is the capacity of sectors to absorb new technology to achieve these targets?
      • MoEF does not have the mandate to look at the economic implications of the reduction. Other ministries and state governments kept in the dark.
    • The big goal
      • The overall goal is to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C by reducing worldwide emissions at least 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Tangible progress required to be made at Copenhagen if there's to be a chance of a successor to Kyoto
    • The problem areas
      • On commitments to reduce emissions, there have been some advances. India, China, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, etc, made explicit commitments. The US has said that it would aim to reduce its emissions some 17% below 2005 levels. This has been termed inadequate by Europe.
      • Things could go wrong as rich nations, particularly Canada and Russia, are still not ready to put forward proposals to cut emissions. And it’s also not certain whether countries like United States and Australia, can follow through on their pledges by passing domestic legislation. Besides, the newly industrialised such as Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are yet to make their own cuts. OPEC is fighting for the death of the deal.
  • Increasing Internet penetration spawns cyber crime
    • Some 3.6 trillion spams were generated and sent out of India this year as compared to 1.6 trillion spams last year, recording a growth of 130%, says a study conducted by Cisco.
    • While globally, around 5-10% personal computers are under threat or infected, the study highlighted that the corresponding figure for India is around 15%. Analysts feel the problem lies in the absence of a proper government policy around cyber security and low investments in security products in India.
  • How is the recent visit of the PM to Russia significant?
    • It marks two significant things: one, resumption of the strategic ties between the two countries that had lost, of late, some of their earlier warmth and tensile strength; and two, India’s readiness to engage with all the different poles of global power with equal vigour.
    • The significance is underscored by the signing of six agreements covering different spheres:
    • The agreements included a pathbreaking civil nuclear deal that firmly embraces cooperation and shuns the conditionalities that burden the nuclear deal with the US, three military pacts that take joint research and production to the next level, an agreement on cultural exchange between the two countries and a final one on trebling bilateral trade over three years with the help of a credit line.
  • On the two versions of the global warming story playing out at Copenhagen summit: (Excerpted from today's ET article by SSA Aiyar)
    • The popular version (that is put out by NGOs etc.) claims that science has proved that global warming that will devastate the earth, that carbon dioxide is a pollutant no less than sewage or radioactive waste, that the west — and, above all, the US — has created most of the carbon in the atmosphere and that on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the rich polluters — and not than innocents in the Third World — should pay for cleaning up the pollution.
    • The scientific version says that our knowledge of the climate suffers from many uncertainties. Nevertheless, we can definitely say that certain gases — notably carbon dioxide and methane — trap the sun’s heat as in a greenhouse, causing warming. This greenhouse effect may be offset or exacerbated by other factors that we do not know enough about and, hence, refer to as natural variations. If our scientific knowledge of climate was at all adequate — as in the case of the movement of planets — we could say exactly what the temperature in 2100 would be, just as we can say what the exact position of the sun and moon will be on January 1, 2100. But since our climate knowledge is so limited, we can only make educated guesses.
  • Cheers to the Indian cricket team
    • Dhoni's team have done India proud by claiming the No. 1 slot in cricket. The stupendous success has come after 77 years of playing Test cricket. It took grit, guts and gumption to wrest the title from the South Africans & especially Australians, who have dominated world cricket with elan for more than a decade.
    • Though newspapers are going gaga over this, we for one are wondering whether anybody cares for this top slot in test cricket now. Haven't the T20 form and the ODI format knock the thunder away from test cricket?
Language Lessons
  • warren: Noun
    • An overcrowded residential area; A series of connected underground tunnels occupied by rabbits; A colony of rabbits
    • eg: His workshop is tucked in a warren of small diamond cutting businesses and textile mills employing thousands of workers.