Politics & the Nation
  • The Karachi Project of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)
    • The LeT has been outsourcing most of its terror operations in the hinterland to IM under what David Coleman Headley had referred to as ‘Karachi project’.
  • Know what is a letter rogatory?
    • A Letter Rogatory or Letter of Request is a formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance. The most common remedies sought by Letters Rogatory are service of process and taking of evidence.
Finance & Economy
  • Bharti's desire to go global hits a legal block
    • It was only yesterday that we were noting about Bharti's planned acquisition of Zain Telecom's assets in all of Africa save two countries.
    • That deal is reportedly facing some legal blocks. Take a look at this graphic which gives the details - just enough.
  • Does making women own productive assets and giving them a differential treatment in taxation herald a better society?
    • Today's ET editorial argues that it does. The arguments it advances to support its viewpoint run like this...
    • Owning productive assets would enhance women’s standing in such families. What happens in society’s upper strata tends to influence conduct in other sections of society as well, and gradually, the standing of women across India could change for the better. Some state governments, such as Delhi’s, already offer a lower rate of stamp duty on property registered in a woman’s name.
    • Our point is, has the lot of women in Delhi improved because of this measure? We doubt it. Besides, the trickledown that the editorial talks about is hardly likely to happen. If the tax sops are to be given only to bring about a positive change for women, then we think they may not work. They will only make for more wilier men.
    • You are not remedying any gender injustice there; you are only going to add another dimension to women's torture. Let men and women sort financial things for themselves. It should not be for government to do such micromanagement. If the woman starts working and earning by going out of the household, lot of power automatically flows her way. This is what can be and should be encouraged. Not such skewed and harebrained policies. Hope the budget stays away from such imprudence.
  • Inflation at 15 month high
    • Inflation based on wholesale prices hit a 15-month high of 8.56% in January, stretching from food items to manufactured goods.
    • Inflation in manufactured products, as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI), went up to a 13-month high of 6.55% for January 2010 from a year ago against 5.17% in December 2009.
  • SBI turns seed capital provider
    • State Bank of India (SBI) will provide interest-free seed capital of up to Rs 10 lakh to aspiring entreprenuers under a new scheme, SBI SMILE, which is specially targeted to encourage small and medium enterprises in the country.
    • The scheme will be in place initially for one year, after which the bank could extend it, if the situation warrants.
    • There will be no interest on the seed capital. The bank will offer a five year moratorium on paying the seed capital amount.
    • Is it a case of the bank being flush with liquidity? Looks like so.
  • Era of banking secrecy to come to an end?
    • The Steering Group of Global Forum for Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purpose, a body representing 91 countries including members of G20 and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has proclaimed that the era of banking secrecy is coming to an end.
    • Interestingly, the Forum, which met in India last week, echoed the same sentiments expressed by G20 countries that met in London in April 2009. Originally an OECD offshoot, the Forum was restructured in 2009 to include non-OECD members in its pursuit for complete transparency in international taxation and banking issues.
    • The Government of India also is reportedly having a re-look at the many DTAAs (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements) it had signed with many countries. The government, reportedly, would be seeking amendments in the existing treaties to ensure better intergovernment flow of information on tax and banking matters.
    • Globalization and the quantum jump in cyber communication has multiplied the opportunities for generation of wealth and cross- border transfer of income but the tax regimes of countries remain constrained by their jurisdiction limited to national boundaries. As a result, it became increasingly difficult for tax administrations to lay hands on the wealth shifted out of their jurisdiction.
    • These offshore financial centers do affect the millions of people living in underdeveloped, undeveloped countries as it reduce revenues available to their governments to carry out developmental projects, such as infrastructure developments, investment in technology and education etc. Interestingly, many experts believe, such shifting of wealth to tax havens are mostly made possible by the clever manoeuvres of well established tax professionals practising in developed countries.
    • Since tax evasion erodes the tax base of a country, finding effective measures for tackling this scourge has been high on the agenda of developed countries for some time.
    • A study carried out by Oxfam International, a non-government organisation, has estimated that developing countries lose $124 billion annually to low tax offshore havens.
  • Euro behind the ills of Europe now?
    • Paul Krugman explains very convincingly that it is the adoption of single currency i.e., Euro in the EU area that lead to the present mess in which countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal are finding themselves.
    • Well worth a read. Read it here.
  • The difference between digital TV and mobile TV
    • Digital TV, the standard that went into effect last year, was developed for stationary televisions.
    • Mobile TV, which enables mobile devices to watch TV is somewhat different. The mobile devices must catch a special signal, a slice of the broadcast frequency, and software processes it to display a clear picture on the go.
    • The technology will be used on new portable televisions with up to 10-inch screens, and smartphones and laptops with special adapters will also receive the signals. The devices must be within about 60 miles of a broadcast tower for a picture as clear as the television at home.
  • Nokia launches mobile money transfer platform
    • Nokia, the global leader in the mobile handset industry, on Monday announced the launch of the world’s first money transfer platform through mobiles in India as it enjoys the market leader’s hip and a wide distribution network in the world’s one of the fasting growing handset market.
    • Christened as Mobile Money, the service will enable a customer to transfer money to other individuals, pay utility bills as well as recharge pre-paid SIM cards by using their mobile devices. The service will also be available on non-Nokia handsets.
    • Consumers will also be able to pay merchants for goods and services through their mobile devices. This is a first-of-its-kind service providing customers the ability to initiate mobile payments through multiple channels such as SMS, IVR, WAP, JAVA and FIRE.
    • The potential of the service is enormous as mobile phone users outnumber the bank account holders. India has nearly 500 million mobile phone users and 200 million bank account holders. There are nearly 80,000 branches of banks across the country.
  • pugilist: Noun
    • Someone who fights with his fists for sport; boxer
  • recce: Noun
    • Reconnaissance (by shortening)
    • It is also spelt reccy, recco
  • dowager: Noun
    • A widow holding property received from her deceased husband
  • sappy: Adjective
    • Ludicrous, foolish; Abounding in sap; [N. Amer] Effusively or insincerely emotional
    • eg: ...It might, however, make Britons wake up to the real danger: that it is becoming a sappy nation.
    • synonym: maudlin. It also means effusively or insincerely emotional