Politics & the Nation
  • Census 2011 -- a mammoth operation
    • It's not only population that Census 2011 will gauge. Being described by government officials as possibly the biggest demographic exercise in the history of mankind — involving 25 lakh census officers and 11,631 metric tonnes of paper — the latest census will also measure the usage of mobile phones & computers, reach of internet & banking services as well as availability of potable water in Indian households.
    • However, the census will avoid going into parameters such as caste and subcaste.
    • Census 2011, which gets underway on April 1, will start with President Pratibha Patil becoming the first citizen to be enumerated at 10 am, followed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who will get listed at 11 am.
    • The census will have two phases. The first phase involving house-listing and housing Census will be conducted between April and July, with each state/UT getting 45 days to complete it. The second phase, involving population enumeration, will be conducted simultaneously all over the country from February 9 to 28 next year.
    • India has held Censuses uninterruptedly since 1872, every 10 years, through the freedom struggle, Partition, World Wars and natural calamities.
  • Bt Brinjal or no Bt Brinjal, what did the country lose in the process?
    • Take a look a this well written article by Arvind Panagariya. It argues that the process that led to its approval is held in abeyance in an undemocratic manner. Well worth a read. Take a look at it here.
  • What is the meat subsidy row about?
    • The dairy industry has submitted a memorandum to the government claiming that the subsidy helps slaughter houses, and as a result, impacts milk production. Owners of dairies apparently believe that the government incentive alone accounts for rising milk prices.
    • The dairy industry claims that subsidies for buffalo meat exporters is enticing farmers to get rid of their cattle earlier and driving down milk production.
    • All cow and buffalo meat exporters get a 30% subsidy on exports.
    • The dairy industry points out that the trend has resulted in India slipping down the league tables when it comes to milk yield. With an average milk yield of 917 kg per annum, India is now ranked 35th among 44 select countries. This despite being the world’s largest milk producer.
Finance & Economy
  • Bharti finally seals Zain deal for $10.7 bn
    • Bharti Airtel took a big step towards fulfilling its international ambitions with a deal on Tuesday to acquire most of the African assets of Kuwait’s Zain Telecom.
    • The $10.7-billion deal, including $1.7 billion of Zain’s debt, was signed in Amsterdam, the base of Zain’s African unit. With Zain Africa’s 42 million customers, Bharti Airtel will have 179 million subscribers, making it the world’s fifth-largest mobile phone operator.
  • Record payout of dividend by Hero Honda
    • Hero Honda declared its highest dividend yet on Tuesday, and held out the possibility of another payout next month, part of the company’s push to reward shareholders as it celebrates its silver jubilee this year.
    • The world’s largest two-wheeler maker by volumes will pay a 4,000% interim dividend of Rs 80 on each share of Rs 2 face value, which in percentage terms is the highest payout by an Indian company to date.
  • What is so significant about StanChart's announcement that it has filed a draft red herring prospectus for an issue of IDRs?
    • For one, this is the first issue of IDRs, the Indian counterpart of global depository receipts and American depository receipts, by an overseas company after guidelines were framed in 2004. For another, since these depository receipts represent equity shares of Standard Chartered — held by an overseas custodian based on which an Indian depository issues rupee-denominated receipts or IDRs to Indian investors — Indian IDR holders will, in effect, own equity shares of a foreign bank and also be able to trade in them as the receipts will be listed on our stock exchanges.
    • IDRs provide foreign companies a platform to directly raise capital in India but had not, for a variety of reasons, including somewhat restrictive regulations compared to American or global depository receipts, found favour with overseas companies so far.
  • What is a red herring prospectus?
    • A red herring prospectus is a document submitted by a company (issuer) who intends on having a public offering of securities (either stocks or bonds). Most frequently associated with an Initial Public Offering (IPO), this registration statement must be filed with the SEBI.
    • "Red-herring prospectus" means a prospectus, which does not have complete particulars on the price of the securities offered and quantum of securities offered.
  • No PAN? You could be facing a 20% TDS on your receipts from tomorrow!
    • The tax deducted at source, or TDS, on payments could be as high as 20% for those not quoting PAN against the regular rate of 2%-10%.
    • The Budget 2009-10 had made it mandatory for residents and non-residents to quote this number or face a higher rate of withholding tax. It comes into effect from Thursday, April 1.
    • Quoting of PAN will allow income tax authorities to establish an audit trail and catch tax evaders.
    • The tax base of the country is a mere 3.3 crore because of massive underreporting of incomes and large-scale exemptions.
    • But the total number of PANs issued in the country is in excess of 8 crore.
  • India denies market-economy tag to China as it refuses to share biz stats
    • India says it will be difficult to give a ‘market economy’ status to China as it has refused to provide information on key business aspects such as land laws, minimum wages and accounting systems.
    • A market economy status will mean that India will have to accept all economic data including on product prices supplied by China. This will make it difficult to fight anti-dumping cases against Chinese companies.
    • India is not obligated to recognise China as a market economy till 2016 as per the country’s accession agreement under the World Trade Organisation.
    • However, about 60 countries including Australia, South Korea, Brazil and the Asean countries have granted the recognition to China.
    • It has now been mounting pressure on India on the ground that its mechanisms were all transparent now.
    • One of the reasons India has been deferring giving China a market economy status is that it could increase dumping of cheap goods from the neighbouring country.
    • Right now India has the freedom to benchmark price of goods sold by Chinese companies in India against third countries exporting the same products.
  • CERN successfully collides atoms
    • The world’s largest atom smasher set a record for high-energy collisions on Tuesday by crashing proton beams into each other at three times more force than ever before. In a milestone in the $10-billion Large Hadron Collider’s ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and microforces, scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, or CERN, collided the beams and took measurements at a combined energy level of 7 trillion electron volts.
    • Following are some facts about the Big Bang and CERN’s particle smashing experiment:
    • The final tests involved pumping a single bunch of energy particles from the project’s accelerator into the 27-km beam pipe of the collider and steering them counterclockwise around it for about 3 km at close to speed of light.
    • The collider aims to simulate conditions milliseconds after the “Big Bang” which created the universe around 13.7 billion years ago.
    • Scientists were looking for, among other things, a particle that made life possible.
    • Recreating a “Big Bang,” which most scientists believe is the only explanation of an expanding universe, ought to show how stars and planets came together out of the primeval chaos that followed, the CERN team believes.
    • Its essential feature is the emergence of the universe from a tiny speck about the size of a coin but in a state of extremely high temperature and density.
Language Lessons
  • scupper: Verb
    • Wait in hiding to attack; Put in a dangerous, disadvantageous, or difficult position
    • eg: Twice, political sensitivities scuppered its attempts to merge with South Africa’s MTN, the largest mobile phone company in Africa.
  • canary: Noun
    • Someone acting as an informer or decoy for the police
    • eg: Greece is just a canary in the coal mine. (Nouriel Roubini described Greece thus. What he means by this is that there are actually some other countries which are equally or more badly placed than Greece at present.)

1 Comment:

santhosh said...

it is very usefull for aspirents