Politics & the Nation
  • What a peculiar case?
    • We are referring to the case of MNS legislator Shishir Shinde. This suspended legislator runs the risk of losing his membership of the legislature in spite of his having been elected because he has not been administered the oath of membership so far.
    • Mr Shinde was suspended along with three other MNS legislators for attacking Samajwadi Party legislator Abu Asim Azmi in the Legislative Assembly.
    • It is mandatory for the elected candidate to take oath of the House within six months. The oath of the membership is given in the House or in the Speaker’s chamber to the member. However, the resolution on suspending the MLAs said they are not allowed to enter the premises of the Mumbai and Nagpur legislature for four years.
    • That is how a curious case of chicken and egg arose for him. He should enter the house to get the oath administered. But he cannot because he is suspended.
  • A good quote attributed to Mao
    • “Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed”
Finance & Economy
  • A high IIP fails to delight; why?
    • Even at 10.3% in October, from a year ago, the index of industrial production fails to infuse enthusiasm in the economy watchers. This was way below the 19.2% industrial output growth reported by China for November.
    • Industrial growth in October 2008 was almost flat at 0.1%, exaggerating the rate of expansion in October 2009.
    • The two qualifications take away some of the sheen of this double-digit growth:
      • One, this growth was recorded on a low base — the index rose an average 0.6% a month in the second half of the last fiscal year.
      • And two, the sequential growth from September’s level is negative — the IIP was down 4.2% from a month ago (and down 1%, seasonally adjusted).
    • Look at this graphic which gives IIP numbers over the months.
  • PE players turn more cautious
    • Private equity investments in India reportedly tumbled to $3.5 billion this year, from about $10 billion last year and $14 billion in 2007.
    • Wealthy individuals, trusts and endowments, which invest in private equity funds to boost their returns, are now demanding that managers invest substantial money along with them before committing funds, which could ensure that it is managed more carefully than without it.
  • Imperfect Knowledge Economics
    • It is a conceptual framework developed by Roman Frydman along with Michael Goldberg. It shows how excessive swings in asset prices arise from market participants’ imperfect understanding of the future rewards of their decisions. This framework provides a rationale for policy intervention in asset markets and has important implications for how regulators should measure and manage systemic financial risk. The analysis acknowledges that, within a wide range, the market does a far better job in setting prices than regulators could.
  • Urban teledensity is past the 100% mark!!
    • Close on the heels of celebrating 500 million mobile customer mark, the country’s cellular phone market has now crossed another major landmark: The average urban teledensity in India has now crossed the 100% mark as per latest figures released by the department of telecom (DoT). This implies the country’s towns, cities and metros, all of which are classified as ‘urban’ by the government, now have as many mobile connections as that of their population.
    • In March 2008, the country’s urban teledensity was about 60%, which jumped to over 85% in March 2009 and it has now crossed the 100% mark.
    • Urban India accounts for close to 70% of India’s 500 million cellular users and over 75% of the telecom operators’ revenues.
    • It should however be noted that urban teledensity is not in terms of real customers, but reflects multiple SIM ownership.
  • China industry output growth reaches 29-mth high of 19%
    • Chinese industrial output surged in November to its fastest pace since June 2007, underlining the economy’s brisk recovery from the global downturn and accompanying the return of consumer inflation and import growth.
    • But exports continued to fall from year-earlier levels, contrary to forecasts of a return to growth, feeding into economists’ expectations that the central bank will not be keen to tighten monetary policy significantly in the next few months as it waits to see how external demand holds up.
    • Overall, the results drive home both the solidity of China’s contribution to global economic recovery and the looming prospect across the world that rising prices, especially for food, could crop up as policymakers’ next big challenge.
  • On the importance of physical activity and theories and models surround it
    • The 20th annual World Diabetes Congress has determined that India is facing a diabetes explosion. The country has the largest number of diabetics, 50.8 million, and by 2010, this number is likely to reach 58.7 million. The economic burden is large: $ 2.8 billion annually, apart from lost productivity.
    • Models that explain leisure activity
      • Generally, the health belief model, the theory of planned behaviour, the transtheoretical model, the social cognitive theory and the ecological model are used to explain leisure activity.
      • The health belief model, the theory of planned behaviour and the trans-theoretical model hold that physical activity occurs due to intrapersonal factors; in contrast, inter-personal factors are the dominant determinants of physical activity, according to the social cognitive theory. The ecological model, on the other hand, holds that the physical environment and policies directly effect physical activity and that different types of physical activity is performed in specific behaviour settings (e.g. parks and bike trails).
    • Some policies and practices to make people active during their day-to-day life:
      • Recreational resources such as walking and biking trails, parks and open spaces
      • Land use characteristics such as residential and employment density, land use mix, street connectivity and proximity of destinations
      • Community environment characteristics such as aesthetics, cleanliness, traffic, safety and community support or cohesion
    • For an explanation of each of the above three policies and practices look at today's ET op-ed by Sameer Sarma.
  • Avatar
    • This James Cameron’s long-awaited film wowed critics at its London premiere on Thursday, with some early reviewers calling it “jaw-dropping,” “mind-blowing” and a game-changer in Hollywood for its digital effects.
    • The 3D epic adventure by the director of 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” is one of the most expensive films ever at a cost of about $400 million to make and market.
    • Avatar shows the forest-dwelling Na’vi fighting for survival against a colonial mining operation bent on stripping their planet. A crippled ex-Marine is chosen to make contact with the mysterious people as a remotely controlled avatar.
    • Due for release on December 18. Perhaps worth watching.
Language Lessons
  • baulking: Verb
    • Refuse to comply; Pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness
    • eg: Less than two days after it promised to initiate the process of carving out Telangana, the Manmohan Singh government appeared to be baulking under the impact of a growing popular unrest in the coastal and Rayalseema regions of Andhra Pradesh.
  • cockles of (one's) heart
    • One's innermost feelings
    • eg: Economist Suresh Tendulkar has estimated that 37% of Indians are poor, not 27% as we’d been led to believe by the Planning Commission, say reports. Apart from warming the cockles of leftist hearts, which have been skipping quite a few beats at the steady decline in the official poverty count over the past decade and a half of ‘neo-liberal, anti-people’ growth, this revelation means little.
  • lese majesty or lese majeste: Noun
    • A crime that undermines the offender's government
    • eg: The only constraint could be if Rosaiah considers it lese majeste for him to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize ahead of the Congress high command.