20.01.2010

Politics & the Nation
  • MoS complain about lack of work
    • We thought, so far, that lack of work plagues only those bureaucrats that are sidelined to posts with glorious designations carrying no work. But after reading this news report, we are highly surprised to know that even our mantrijis are more often than not underemployed or even unemployed. Makes for an interesting and bemusing reading.
    • We draw your attention to the diplomatic language used by the PMO in the press release. It said that the meeting discussed ways and means for better utilisation of the enormous pool of talent available in the team of ministers of state.
  • If there arises a situation to use nuclear weapons, how is the decision taken?
    • It is interesting to know something about this. There is a body called the NCA which stands for Nuclear Command Authority. The NCA consists of a political council and an executive council. The political council is to be chaired by the prime minister and it is the sole body which can authorise the use of nuclear weapons. The executive council is chaired by the NSA (National Security Advisor), and it provides inputs for decision-making by the NCA and executes the directives given to it by the political council.
  • How important is cyber security from civilian point of view?
    • Given the increasing use of Scada (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems that use computers to monitor and control industrial operations, the nation can be brought to a halt by terrorists or hostile powers taking control of computers in what are normally considered civilian installations. From power stations to sugar factories, dam sluice gates to suburban train signalling systems, banks to stock exchanges, most large complex systems are controlled by computers. If hostile elements gain control of these decidedly-civilian establishments, they can create havoc. Therefore, cyber security has to go beyond securing overtly sensitive systems such as in the government and the defence network.
Finance & Economy
  • What are the pros and cons of having a partial roll-out of the GST?
    • Take a look at this column. Both the experts feel that a partial roll-out will not be good for the country. We vote for a full roll-out. But will the politicians facilitate it before April 1, 2010?
  • NTPC plans to set up arm for acquiring coal assets abroad
    • NTPC, the world’s second-largest independent power producer (IPP), plans to set up a new entity for acquiring coal assets abroad to secure fuel supplies for its coal-based plants.
    • NTPC’s coal imports stood at eight million tonne in 2008-09. It is expected to reach the 12.5-million tonne mark in the current fiscal (2009-10) and rise further as the company’s coal-based generation capacity will go on stream in the coming years. It is estimated that the company may require at least 270 million tonne of coal annually by 2017, by when its total generation capacity is targeted to touch 75,000 mw from the current level of 30,644 mw. Of the NTPC-owned capacity, 86% is coal-based, operated through 15 coal-based power stations.
  • Mauritius government comes hard on round-tripping
    • The Financial Sevices Commission of Mauritius has imposed a stringent set of conditions on Mauritius-based companies investing in India in a bid to allay fears about round-tripping of funds.
    • Hope you remember what is meant by round-tripping. In round tripping, domestic funds/companies go out and come back again through circuitous routes from Mauritius or other tax havens, to save taxes.
    • The Mauritian government has also warned that licences of entities investing in India would be revoked if they source funds from India.The move provides a new turn to the lingering debate over allegations of Indian corporates using the Mauritius route to escape capital gains tax.
    • Mauritius is the top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into India. During the first seven months of the current financial year, nearly $8 billion of the $18 billion FDI flowing into India came from Mauritius.
  • Know what is a teaser rate?
    • This is an offer by lenders where customers seeking homes loans are extended an attractive interest rate — at a substantial discount to market rates. These rates, normally an introductory offer, last only for a few months or sometimes only during the initial year or two of a mortgage loan. Subsequently, the rate is adjusted to the market rate after the special offer period is over. In India, the concept is relatively new with many banks offering a low interest rate for the first 2-3 years of the maturity of the loan. State Bank of India — the country’s largest bank — queered the pitch in early 2009 in an attempt to woo home borrowers and revive the sagging demand for loans, following the global economic crisis. The Reserve Bank of India has, however, expressed its concern relating to banks indulging in this practice, keeping in mind the impact on bank balance sheets.
  • On investing in stock markets -- the basics.
    • This is a very good ET in the classroom column that explains you about the basics of stock market investing. Take a look at it. Worth a read. Very helpful for beginners.
  • Currency futures ahoy!
    • The RBI has taken a giant leap by permitting retail investors to trade in additional currency futures with immediate effect.
    • Dollar-rupee futures are currently traded on three recognised exchanges — NSE, MCX and BSE. Now the RBI has decided to allow currency futures in Euro, Pound Sterling and Yen.
    • As in the case of the dollar-rupee futures, the contract size has been fixed at 1,000 units each for pound and euro, and 100,000 units for the yen, across 12 concurrently available contracts, one for each month. The contracts, like the existing dollar futures, would be cash-settled in rupees and the settlement price would be at RBI’s reference rate for all the four currencies.
Environment
  • Are Himalayan glaciers really melting at an alarming pace?
    • That they have been melting at an alarming rate is what we have been fed on by the IPCC for long now. But now, an independent study got conducted at the instance of the Government of India appears to have arrived at an opposite conclusion.
    • Want to see a scathing criticism of the IPCC in this regard? Can't get a better one than this one from SSA Aiyar.
International
  • Crystal gazing the American economy
    • What's happening in the American economy now and what does the future hold for it? You may have your own take on the subject, but do take a look at what Martin Feldstein one of members of the US president Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board has to offer.
Sport
  • IPL to go 3D!
    • IPL is reportedly going 3D in the last four matches of the upcoming version IPL3. It is perhaps the first sports body in the world to do so. After they see the performance this time, it is reportedly considering giving the entire broadcast a 3D uplift for the ensuing seasons.
    • They are also reportedly looking at introducing a spider camera wherein the camera will actually move across the ground like a spider web.
    • The 3D experience will be initially available in pubs, cinemas and bars.
    • BTW, want to know the latest price tags for players? Take a look at this graphic.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not aware of IPL going 3D but this is true for football Worldcup

Read the story:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=4796555

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