Politics & the Nation
  • On Narenda Modi's non-appearance before the SIT
    • Remember the summons issued by the SIT probing the 2002 Gujarat riots, to Narendra Modi and the latter's non-appearance before it? ET was closing its comment in an editorial with this observation: Integrity of the legal system and its immunity to subversion by those in power are of the essence for a polity that styles itself a democracy.
    • The editorial is worth a read. Read it without fail.
Finance & Economy
  • Cairn raises Rajasthan oil estimates
    • Cairn Energy said it now estimates oil reserves at its Barmer fields in the northern state to be as much as 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
    • “Discovered resource base increased from 3.7 billion BOE to 4 billion BOE in-place,” said a Cairn statement. “Prospective resource base is now estimated at 2.5 billion BOE in-place.”
    • Discovered resources comprise total deliverable petroleum quantities from the start of production to the ceasing of production in a field. Prospective resources are those quantities of petroleum estimated that can be potentially produced.
    • In-place reserves in the field are 2.2-2.3 billion barrels, which is approved by the government and based on the field development works being undertaken by the contractor.
  • The case for R&D in ensuring long lasting economic growth
    • Here is an excellent article on the subject by Jaideep Mishra. Worth a read. Som excerpts for us follow.
    • Research has shown that since the 1950s, the bulk of growth over the long term is not so much due to increase in factor inputs like capital and labour as technological change, efficiency improvements and productivity gains. Given our weak science, technology and innovation indicators, to assume world-leading growth for decades would verily belie the empirical evidence of umpteen studies — that growth is essentially about technological progress.
    • Larger, richer economies, which have experienced growth over the long-term, do allocate up to 3% of their gross domestic product for R&D — sometimes even more. In contrast in India such allocation is barely 1% of the GDP and is unlikely to change for the better in a jiffy. Hence the presumption that world-beating, long-term growth is around the corner may be a little premature.
    • In India, post-secondary education is availed by just about 10% of the target population. Abroad, in the mature economies, it is over 50%.
    • On the urgent need for a clearly defined technology policy:
      • The new growth theories suggest that economies with higher levels of educational attainments (read: human capital) provide greater incentives for innovation and, by implication, lead to higher rates of growth. The point is that we need to improve the quality of our growth momentum with proactive policy, and not be content with growth brought about largely by addition of factor inputs. Such growth would be at high costs, and likely to make the economy increasingly uncompetitive, and sooner rather than later. Hence, the need for a clearly-defined technology policy, to boost our long-term growth prospects. The move in the Budget to provide 200% weighted tax deduction for R&D expenditure is certainly a step in the right direction.
  • Viability gap funding to be extended to education, health
    • The government will soon provide a framework for viability gap funding for creation of physical infrastructure in health and education space though public-private partnership (PPP).
    • The viability gap funding or VGF is a capital subsidy provided by the government to make competitively bid projects financially viable for private investors.
    • Under VGF, the central government meets up to 20% of capital cost of a project being implemented in the PPP mode by a central ministry, state government, statutory entity or a local body. The state government, sponsoring ministry or the project authority can pitch in with another 20% of the project cost to make the projects even more attractive for the investors.
    • VGF will be typically relevant for health and education projects where economic returns are high but financial returns may be difficult to come for the investors. The government will also look at different mechanisms such as annuity for these sectors in line with their specific funding requirement.
    • The VGF allows the government to leverage its resources and start more projects than it would have managed if they were implemented through private funding.
    • The VGF for each project is determined through bidding, with the project going to the bidder seeking least assistance.
  • On Dollar Index
  • Google takes on the Dragon
    • Google shut its mainland Chinese-language portal and began rerouting searches to its Hong Kong-based site, unleashing a blast of ire from Beijing and prompting concerns over its future business in China.
    • Google’s decision comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington over a range of issues, from internet freedom to the yuan exchange rate, economic sanctions on Iran and US weapons sales to Taiwan.
    • Ordinary (Chinese) internet users won’t be much affected, because the only difference they’ll see is that the burden of censorship has shifted from Google to the government.
    • Google’s business may take a hit. Advertising may fall, and (Chinese) companies that have invested in joining up with Google innovations and content will be hurt.
    • While Google is the world’s top search engine, it held only an estimated 30% share of China’s search market in 2009, compared with home-grown rival Baidu’s 60%. Google’s decision on Monday, therefore, won’t have an immediate impact on earnings, analysts say.
  • Live-in relationships not a crime, observes SC
    • The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the live-in relationships between the adult couples cannot be treated as an offence.
    • The apex court said there was no law which prohibits live-in relationship or pre-marital sex. The Court passed the observation while reserving its judgement on a special leave petition filed by noted South Indian actress Khusboo. She had approached the apex court seeking quashing of about 22 criminal cases filed against her after she allegedly endorsed pre-marital sex in interviews to various magazines in 2005.
    • While hearing the case, the judges grilled the counsel for some of the complainants in the case and repeatedly stressed that the perceived immoral activities cannot be branded as offence. The argument of the counsel was that her comments allegedly endorsing premarital sex would adversely affect the minds of young people leading to decay in moral values and ethos of the country.
Obituary: Kanu Sanyal
    • The legendary Naxalite leader committed suicide at his party office in Hatighisha near Naxalbari on Tuesday afternoon. Pushing 80, severely paralytic and nearly blind after a cerebral stroke last year, Sanyal was the last of the three legendary founder movers of the peasants’ revolution of north Bengal in the late 60s, that became infamously known throughout India as the Naxalbari movement.
    • Charu Majumdar and Jangal Santhal, the other two pioneering stalwarts of the movement had died long back. Sanyal lived, but lived in acute depression.
    • With Charu Majumdar and Jangal Santhal, Sanyal had initiated the Naxalbari movement that later ran amok. Discords galore surfaced and while Sanyal, in his later years, disapproved of Majumdar’s strategy of armed struggle, there are some even now in CPI(ML) who never thought Sanyal was in the same class as Majumdar was in being a “true communist”. But for that matter, Sanyal wasn’t ever too great a votary of excessive bloodshed and he always thought the present Maoist movement was utter rubbish.
    • Born in Kurseong in 1931, Sanyal joined the Communist Part of India (CPI) in 1950 and became a whole-timer. He worked mainly among the tea workers in Matigara and Naxalbari. He went to China in 1967 for three months to meet Mao Zedong. This inspired him to announce the formation of the original CPI(ML) in 1969 at a public meeting in Kolkata that coincided with Lenin’s birthday.
    • He spent many years between 1970 and 1977 behind bars. After his release in 1977, he started living permanently at Hatighisa and formed Organising Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (OCCR). In 1985, he became the leader of Communist Organisation of India (Marxist-Leninist), a conglomeration of six Marxist Leninist factions. He formed the New CPI(ML) in 2003 and was general secretary of the organisation.