Politics & the Nation
  • Know anything about Azamgarh pilgrims?
    • We were a bit surprised about the phrase at first. But as we read on this story, the issue became clear.
    • It is about the Congress-wallahs who are making a beeline to Sanjarpur village in Azamgarh district.
    • It was visited by Digvijay Singh and he came up with a report in which he portrayed the Muslim youth as taking to the jihadi route because they were victims first. Victims because they were all coming from rural lower middle class families who have sold their assets and borrowed money to educate themselves and yet find no gainful employment.
    • The jihadi-as-victim theory has been finding traction in a section of this area after Maulana Aamir Rashadi Madani, founder of the All India Ulema Council, began an agitation over “framing of Muslims in terror cases and fake encounters.”
    • The Congress brass in UP appear to have been taken in by this theory. But Rahul Gandhi, increasingly the poster boy of Congress, appears to have remained unimpressed by the articulation.
  • Understand the issues involved in Bt Brinjal?
    • This graphic gives an excellent insight into the whole issue on allowing Bt Brinjal.
Finance & Economy
  • Bharti set to realize its dream of becoming an emerging market's MNC?
    • Its bid for acquiring Kuwait based Zain Telecom's assets in all of Africa (except those in Sudan and Morocco) for 49,700 crore was reportedly accepted by Zain's board.
    • The acceptance of the offer clears the way for Bharti to carry out a due diligence of the business before a final deal.
    • If the deal fructifies, the acquisition will give Bharti a firm foothold in a relatively untapped market and pit it in direct competition with MTN, with which it has tried and failed twice to merge. The African operations in the 15 countries that Bharti is seeking to buy are grouped under an entity called Zain International.
    • If it buys Zain’s African operations, Bharti will be catapulted past China Unicom, Sweden’s TeliaSonera, and Germany’s T-Mobile to become the world’s seventh-largest mobile phone company by subscribers.
  • The FDI reform measures that were unveiled by Government last week
    • The government has decided that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) would need to vet and approve only proposals involving total foreign equity inflow of over Rs 1,200 crore, rather than proposals with a total project cost of Rs 600 crore, as per the rule in force since 1996. Assuming reasonable debt-equity ratios, the new rule means that FDI proposals with project cost adding up to Rs 4,800 crore, or just over $1 billion, no longer need Cabinet-level vetting.
    • Another significant reform effectuated has been to dispense with the obligation on a foreign entity to obtain a no-objection certificate from its Indian partner for going it alone or tying up with other partners in the same area of business.
    • The government has also brought in some procedural easing. Further approval will not be required if, after initial vetting, the activity is placed under the automatic route or where sectoral caps have been removed or increased.
  • Do you have any views on the RBI's directive to the banks about disbanding BPLR and telling them how they should computer the base rate?
  • What is the case for a probable high inflation in Asia?
    • First, there is a risk of potential upside in domestic demand.
    • Second, recent exports data have been much better than expected.
    • Third, slowdown in investments over the last 18 months at the time when domestic demand has recovered sharply will imply quick rise in capacity utilization.
    • Fourth, crude oil and other commodities related inflation pressures (direct and indirect impact) could be much higher during the current cycle.
    • Lastly, surplus liquidity in the region remains high.
    • Looked at this way, this question-answer method makes no sense at first. But if you read this article in full, the above excerpt will be meaninful for remembering your answer, if and when you are asked to offer an explanation to the question.
  • Want to understand what went wrong with Greece?
    • Read this story. It gives us a lowdown on the situation.
    • But to put it simply, it was a case of window-dressing government accounts. With the help of consultants / advisers like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, the government of Greece indulged in camouflaging its loans as receipts and sold its future revenue earnings to creditors. This went on for substantially long periods of time and there came a point in time when it could no longer resort to such window-dressing. Hence the bubble burst.
    • Now Greece reportedly owes more than $300 bn as debts. For a country whose GDP was $357 bn in 2008, this kind of debt is unimaginable.
    • Read the story in full to understand how different players played their part in bringing Greece to its heels.
  • Here is a very good essay on how we should be reforming our agriculture sector
    • For some of you, agriculture may not hold that much interest. But some of the realities surrounding this sector will surely make you sit up and take notice.
    • A very good essay on the whole. Strongly recommend a read. But some excerpts:
    • With only 100 million hectares of agricultural land, China produces 400 million tonnes of grain while India averages only 108 million tonnes of food from 146 million hectares of agricultural land.
    • The fact is that most farmers and cultivators cannot make the sort of investments needed. Yet, small farms produce 41% of the country’s total grain and over 50% of total fruit and vegetables.
    • India produces over 600 million tonnes of food products annually, is the second largest rice and wheat producer, and the largest producer of pulses and milk. However, only about 2% of India’s fruit and vegetable output is processed. Compare this with 70% in Brazil and 60-70% in developed countries. In the foods segment, processed foods account for a mere 2% of the total production. About 30% of farm produce is wasted every year for want of storage, transportation, cold chain and other infrastructure facilities.
    • What is the solution being offered by the essay?
      • For the next Green Revolution to succeed, three things are critical: favourable legislation, investments in modern post-harvesting infrastructure, and post-harvest management.
    • On what's wrong with the APMC Act:
      • No person or agency is allowed to freely carry on wholesale marketing activities in a declared market area that falls under the jurisdiction of a market committee. This has prevented the development of a competitive marketing system.
      • Consequently, while farmers get a pittance, the mafia makes a handsome profit because the state governments have not yet promulgated the model APMC Act. Till this is done, farmers will continue to be left behind even as the middleman prospers.
  • certitude: Noun
    • Total certainty or greater certainty than circumstances warrant
    • Synonyms: cocksureness, overconfidence
    • eg: Now, this might be heresy for billions of spiritual types the world over, and cause derisory certitude from our own deeply-religious millions, but those perfidious science-wallahs have come up with another explanation for belief in the ineffable.
  • elide: Verb
    • Leave or strike out
    • eg: ...Or, as the people on the other side of the fence would aver, the fear of things retributory is yet to be elided.
  • Gaia: Noun
    • (Greek mythology) goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus and the Titans in ancient mythology
  • cloister
    • Noun: Residence that is a place of religious seclusion (such as a monastery); A courtyard with covered walks (as in religious institutions)
    • Verb: Surround with a cloister, as of a garden; Surround with a cloister; Seclude from the world in or as if in a cloister
    • eg: Responsible for translating, editing, proof-reading and printing the documents, these people are cloistered in the basement of the ministry for a whole week.


Himanshu said...

Hello Sir.Can you please post the link of that essay on agricultural reforms.Thanks

icamaven said...

Sorry for the omission. Since given.