15.01.2010

Politics & the Nation
  • Nehru award for International Understanding
    • Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson was conferred the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi on Thursday.
    • Patil hailed Grimsson as a remarkable leader with a global vision and a proponent of peace and understanding as she presented the Award to him at a ceremony attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
    • The Award comprises a memento, a scroll of honour and a Rs 50 lakh purse.
Finance & Economy
  • Came across Kondratieff cycles / waves any time?
    • Take a look at this following excerpt from an op-ed that appeared in today's ET. It should be self explanatory. If it ain't then it is time for you to take a peek at Wikipedia for the same.
    • The capitalist world system goes through periodic cycles of equilibrium-disequilibrium. Once equilibrium is disturbed, counter-movements are generated to restore equilibrium. However, the asystemic movements arise only after the deviations have gone some distance, leading to cyclical rhythms — e.g., Kondratieff cycles — in the world economy. Moreover, counter-movements require some change in the underlying parameters of the system; therefore, a new equilibrium is brought about, different from the earlier one.
  • Can natural gas substitute coal for producing electricity in India?
    • One thousand megawatt (mw) of power generation requires about 5 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas per day. The current installed power capacity is about 1,40,000 mw. Even for this capacity and assuming only about 25% of coal-fuelled power is replaced by gas generation, the total requirement of gas would be about 40 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year. According to the website of the ministry of petroleum, the gas production in 2008-09 is likely to be about 33 bcm per year assuming a production figure of about 90 mcm per day. Even the projected production in 2011-12 is about 160 bcm.
    • These are rough calculations, but they indicate that India is woefully unprepared to fuel its power requirements using natural gas.
  • Wipro decides on a $1 bn sponsored ADR offering
    • So reads a headline in today's ET. What is a sponsored ADR offering?
    • In a sponsored ADR issue, the proceeds from the offering do not flow into the company’s books, but go to the shareholders. There is, hence, no fresh issue of equity by the company. However, the company backs the offering and gives its existing shareholders the opportunity to tender their shares to the ADR offering.
    • The shares tendered are held by a depository and converted into ADRs which are floated on the New York stock exchanges. The shareholders who eventually agree to tender their shares are given the opportunity to do so on a pro-rata basis and through a book-building process.
    • A sponsored ADR offering is normally done by companies whose ADR prices are trading at a substantial premium to local stock prices. In Wipro’s case, the premium is currently as high as 46%.
International
  • It is clear that trade negotiations under the WTO over the last decade and a half have been fairly successful. Comment.
    • The success lies in four principles. One, acceptance by countries that multilateralism is important so that member countries by and large accept their bound tariffs as their minimum commitments.
    • Second, acceptance by countries that they must notify their departures from multilateralism under Section XXIV of Gatt (preferential trade arrangements) to the WTO.
    • Third, acceptance of the principle of special and differential treatment (S&DT) so that countries can avail of different speeds of adjustment to multilateralism with less developed countries getting exemptions and lower tariff adjustment requirements.
    • Fourth, and possibly most important, emergence of negotiating blocs as (contrary to popular opinion) you cannot obtain a positive consensus with close to 140 different negotiating partners. The idea is to obtain a consensus in small groups which can then lead to a consensus at the multilateral level.
  • The feeling of deja vu on climate negotiations
    • Much is being written about India's tactless negotiating skills in so far as climate negotiations are concerned. But none can explain the nuances the way the Occasional Paper from Manoj Pant can do. Take a look. We have excerpted from this article for knowing a little about our energy fuel scenario.
Science
  • Solar photovoltaic versus solar thermal systems
    • Photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight to electricity that can be used to supplement or replace the electricity supplied by the utility grid.
    • Unlike PV panels, solar thermal collectors do not convert sunlight to electricity, but transfer the energy directly to the water. Solar thermal systems displace the electricity or natural gas that would otherwise be required to heat water. Solar thermal cannot be used for systems that heat swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • A little bit about solar eclipse and why its study is of importance.
    • The occurrence of eclipse will result in a sudden cut-off of solar radiation. This affects the atmospheric structure and dynamics. There will be a large reduction in ionization and temperature. That's why it is important to study eclipses.
    • Another point of interest is Baily's beads. As the moon starts covering the sun, this special phenomenon occurs. When sunlight passes through the moon's uneven surfaces, it starts appearing as 'beads of lights'. These stunning bead like light formations are created due to light filtering through the hills and valleys of the uneven surface of the moon and are crucial observations which can only be made during eclipses that can help define the solar diameter accurately.
  • subterfuge: Noun
    • Something intended to misrepresent the true nature of an activity
    • eg: They’re calling this no-names-barred story by two journalists ‘poli porn’ for its racy description of screaming matches and adultery, expletives and bloated egos, paranoia and subterfuge.
  • nary: Adjective
    • (used with singular count nouns) colloquial for 'not a' or 'not one' or 'never a'
    • eg: Money changes hands, lady-loves make leaders switch sides, spin doctors inflate or create imaginary personas, government formations hinge on invitations to (or exclusion from) tea parties during the election hoopla, but nary a tell-all book emerges in the aftermath.
  • zilch: Noun
    • A quantity of no importance
    • eg: The launch of the National Solar Mission, which aims to add 20,000 mw by 2022 — from practically zilch currently — does call for a viable policy strategy.
  • asymptote: Noun
    • A straight line that is the limiting value of a curve; can be considered as tangent at infinity
    • eg: Furthermore, the moving equilibrium generates secular trends, which do not continue forever, but hit asymptotes and, at this point of time, the cyclical rhythms are unable to restore equilibrium and a new structure emerges with a new equilibrium.

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