Politics & the Nation
  • Change of guard at BJP?
    • The long-awaited exercise of affecting a generational shift in the principal Opposition party was kicked off on Friday, with LK Advani assuming the role of chairman of the BJP parliamentary party, a new post created by amending its constitution.
    • After donning his new robe, Mr Advani installed his deputy, Sushma Swaraj, as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, while re-affirming Arun Jaitley as her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha. The two leaders will be reporting to him. SS Ahluwalia will remain the party’s deputy leader in the House of Elders.
    • Both Ms Swaraj and Mr Jaitley are in their 50s. So is the party’s president-to-be, Nitin Gadkari, who’s 52.
    • But with a new role created for him, ostensibly at an elevated level, will the generational shift that the BJP is seeking, come about?
    • Let's wait and see.
  • Quota for Muslims and converted Christians?
    • The Ranganath Commission has recommended Scheduled Caste status to Hindu coverts to Christianity and Islam. It has also suggested a 10% reservation for Muslims and 5% for other minorities in government jobs.
    • The commission has recommended delinking of Scheduled Caste status from religion and abrogation of the 1950 Scheduled Caste Order. The order originally restricted Scheduled Caste status to Hindus alone, but was later opened to Buddhists and Sikhs.
    • The recommendation of ‘religion-based’ quota not just goes against the Constitution, it could also give a handle to the Opposition to beat the government with. There is constitutional restriction on Christian and Muslim Dalits being allowed access to reservation.
  • On adoption legalities in India
    • It's very difficult for us to know the nitty gritty of adoption in our country. Take a look at today's ET editorial on the subject. It is quite educating.
Finance & Economy
  • Govt raises GDP forecast to 7.75%, but says prices a worry
    • In its mid-year review of the economy, the government said GDP growth could top 7.75% during the fiscal to March 2010, as attention turns to policy measures that will be required to keep inflation under check.
    • One of the measures that the RBI could be considering in the wake of high inflation is tinkering with the key policy rates -- the CRR, SLR, repo and reverse repo rates. Since the middle of September 2008, RBI has reduced its policy repo rate by 425 basis points to 4.75% and cut the cash reserve ratio to 5% from 9% at the end of August.
    • The RBI has already given the first indications of a tighter monetary policy stance by restoring the statutory liquidity ratio to 25% and withdrawing some special liquidity support measures.
    • The impact of a poor monsoon is seen being tempered by the robust growth in all other sectors, but industrial growth will be critical to sustaining the growth momentum this year.
  • Government's efforts at chasing black money
    • The government has, in an unprecedented move, posted two senior Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers to Singapore and Mauritius, intensifying its efforts to crack down on money laundering amid growing concerns of links between tax evasion and terror funding.
    • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has appointed additional commissioners GT Venkateswara Rao and M Sampath as first secretaries at the country’s missions in Singapore and Port Louis for three years.
    • CBDT is not alone in posting officers abroad. The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) has officials permanently posted in Washington and Singapore for the same purpose. The Enforcement Directorate, too, has an official posted in Dubai to check on transactions that can have Indian connections.
    • The posting is to maintain effective co-ordination between the Indian tax authorities and the tax authorities of Singapore and Mauritius.
    • The posting assume significance in the light of the fact that PNs (Participatory Notes), account for about 17% of the $15-billion fund inflow into Indian stocks this year. PNS, by the way are derivative instruments sold by registered brokers here to investors overseas with Indian stocks as base.
  • What exactly is holding up signing of a joint declaration at the Cophenhagen summit?
    • It is the rich nations' refusal to give up their demand for contravening the UNFCCC and Bali Action Plan for forcing verification of climate change pledges that is proving to be difficult.
Language Lessons
  • torpor: Noun
    • A state of motor and mental inactivity with a partial suspension of sensibility; Inactivity resulting from lethargy and lack of vigour or energy
    • eg: Globally, after the two great wars, with the second one and its final solutions being more definitive, the human capacity for horror, it seems, reached an apogee only to relapse into a state of relative torpor.
  • stupor: Noun
    • The feeling of distress and disbelief that you have when something bad happens accidentally; Marginal consciousness
    • eg: "someone stole his wallet while he was in a drunken stupor"
  • plummy: Adjective
    • Very desirable; (of a voice) affectedly mellow and rich
    • eg: ...and he’s deploying complex theories about mass psychology and the media to plummy effect.