Politics & the Nation
  • On Nitish Kumar's turning around Bihar
    • Among Mr Kumar’s biggest achievements, is the move to empower women — an experiment that is now being replicated in other states. Soon after assuming power, the state government decided to reserve 50% of the seats in panchayats and the urban local bodies for women. The decision was hailed as a “revolutionary” step aimed at involving women in the decision-making process, and giving a voice to them in the political system.
  • A very good editorial comment on the stifling atmosphere that prevails in India -- in regard to science education / research
    • On what needs to change:
      • The change required is far reaching: a great many things hamper science in this country, ranging from the general culture, the school syllabus and the division of teaching and research between universities and specialised research organisations to overall lack of democratic values in society.
    • On how curiosity is discouraged or innovation killed:
      • Indian culture traditionally assumed knowledge to be finite — the original Sankaracharya was even vested with the title sarvagnya, or one who knows everything — and a student is expected to master received wisdom rather than constantly test and challenge concepts. Curiosity is discouraged in the name of respect for authority. This kills innovation and new thinking.
    • Schools imbibed the philosophy of Macaulay's minute on education and continues with the mission of producing clerks. Universities are training grounds, rather than incubators of intellectual curiosity. Research is supposed to take place in specialised, mostly state-funded, research outfits, but these are run on bureaucratic lines that stifle dissent, intellectual or otherwise.
    • The above commentary assumes significance in the light of the exhortations given by the PM during the recently concluded 97th Indian Science Congress.
Finance & Economy
  • Capital inflows surge; Are they bad? If so how?
    • Take a look at this news report which shows that we are receiving massive inflows. Though it says that there is some more room yet before alarm bells can begin ringing, what are ill-effects of such heavy inflows?
    • Such flows can create a serious problem when there is already excess liquidity in the system. They can cause inflationary pressures and also asset bubbles. The rupee funds released into the system through conversion of dollars can be mopped up by issuing bonds, a process called sterilisation.
    • However, this has a cost as the interest on sterilisation operations has to be borne by the government and it can also push up interest rates.
  • A bit about TKDL -- Traditional Knowledge Digital Library
    • It is library that is created by documenting over two lakh formulation of traditional medicines and yoga postures to combat bio-piracy. It comprises of 34 million pages of information translated into five languages including English.
    • TKDL is an effort to protect our traditional knowledge, mainly traditional medicine and yoga postures from misappropriation through patents granted abroad as had happened with the use of ’neem’ and ’haldi’.
  • A very good piece on mBanking
    • Do read this story. It gives a good peek into mBanking status in our country as of today.
  • The legendary Warren Buffett takes a beating
    • Warren Buffett recorded his worst performance against the stock market in a decade last year after committing $26 billion to a railroad takeover and lowering his expectations for investment returns. Berkshire Hathaway, the company Buffett has led as chairman for more than four decades, advanced 2.7% on the New York Stock Exchange in 2009, less than the 23% return in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. It was Berkshire’s worst showing since falling 20% in 1999, compared with a 20% gain in the index. Berkshire beat the index in 15 of the last 22 years.
  • torpid: Adjective
    • Slow and apathetic; In a condition of biological rest or suspended animation
    • eg: ...But on Monday the action was torpid.
  • pejorative: Adjective
    • Expressing disapproval
    • eg: “Bihari pride”, which had become a pejorative phrase in the past couple of decades, is being invoked once again.
  • swaddle:
    • Verb: Wrap in swaddling clothes;
    • Noun: Restrictions placed on the immature; A garment (a gown or narrow strips of cloth) for an infant
    • eg: Maybe the collapse stems from lousy internal controls in financial firms that, swaddled by implicit government guarantees, lavish their employees with enormous rewards for risky behaviour.
  • cockeyed: Adjective
    • Turned or twisted toward one side; Incongruous; inviting ridicule; Very drunk
    • eg: ...Or perhaps a long run of good fortune has left the financial market dominated by cockeyed optimists, who have finally figured that out.