Politics & the Nation
  • On Nuclear liability bill
    • Keen to push through the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, the government reiterated its offer to make changes in the proposed legislation, including increasing the liability amount.
    • The government is now saying that the idea of joining an international convention on nuclear liability got incubated since 1988 when the government began negotiating with the then USSR to set up a nuclear power plant in Kudankulam. The issue has been under the consideration of successive governments. The government maintains that contrary to perception, the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation deal is not the trigger for the proposed legislation.
    • Stressing on the need to have a legal framework to protect victims of nuclear accidents, the government argued that the bill would provide “immediate and prompt compensation. This money will be given immediately.” Victims could seek further compensation under tort law.
    • The Opposition has questioned the manner in which the law does not fix liability on the supplier, limiting it to the operator. In the Indian context, this would mean that only the government or a government-owned company will be liable. It appears that as per international practice liability is on the operator.
    • Let us await more details on this debate as time progresses.
  • The Brahmaputra issue with China
    • Brahmaputra river, which is 2,906-km long, starts in Tibet and weaves through India and then through Bangladesh. The China stretch is 1,625 km, while the next 918 km is in India and the remaining 363 km is in Bangladesh.
    • The Chinese call it the Tsang Po.
    • China is building a dam on it in Tibet to generate about 450 MW of electricity. Naturally India is concerned that water flow into India would be affected because of this. But the Chinese side has reportedly assured our Foreign Minister during a recent visit that the construction of the dam is not going to affect water flow in anyway to India as the project is not an irrigation project but a project for generating only power.
Finance & Economy
  • On sweat equity
  • What are the strategies that India should follow during the run up to the conclusion of the Doha round?
    • For such a question, nothing can be a better answer than today's ET op-ed by Samir Sharma. A must read for every one of you.
    • Some of the words, phrases and concepts that the article explains very beautifully:
      • Theories of trade
      • Theories of division of labour -- NIDL
      • Dependency in orthodox economic relationships
    • Explaining these things along the way, he concludes that a deep structural shift is occurring in the world and the slow forward movement in the Doha Development Round is a manifestation of the tectonic changes. Indian negotiators have the opportunity to ride on the crest of the global structural changes if they are able to expand trade in sectors that promote symmetric coupling with the West and encourage slow decoupling where asymmetric trade and investment relationships exist.
  • Technology Trends - Idiot box to get smart
    • The idiot box is getting smart. Television makers such as LG, Samsung and Sony are launching internet-capable models that will offer video on demand, access to websites such as YouTube and podcasts in tieup with websites and local content providers.
    • Within days after rolling out 3D TVs, top television makers are looking to use Web add-ons to differentiate their top-end hi-definition models from droves of flat-panel sets flooding the market.
    • The industry feels the potential is huge for Net TV due to rising broadband penetration and the craze for infotainment in the country. Another positive is the growing popularity of websites such as YouTube, Picasa and AccuWeather.
  • On Monsoons
    • Here is a good graphic that gives us a peek into the expected performance of the Monsoons this year. Worth a look.
  • FTA proposed with Israel
    • The free trade agreement was proposed by Israel around four years ago. It will cover goods, services as well as investment.
    • Israel’s tariffs are lower compared to India’s implying that the latter would have to take on steeper tariff reduction commitments. But the country is not apprehensive about a steep increase in imports as Israel’s manufacturing industry is much smaller in size.
    • India exported goods worth $189 billion in 2008-09 whereas Israel’s exports were only $65 billion, indicating the smaller manufacturing economy of the latter. India-Israel bilateral trade in 2008 was at $4 billion.
    • The main gains for India is likely to be in the area of technology transfer and joint manufacturing. Israel has cutting edge technology in areas such as bio-tech, nanotechnology, medical equipment, water management & drip-irrigation and solar energy. Other areas where India could gain is in services such as IT and telecom.
  • Greece deficit worse than feared
    • Greece's budget gap last year was worse than feared. This news triggered a fresh slide of asset prices in Greece and other debt-choked European countries. The news hurt financial markets’ waning hopes for Greece to bring its swelling national debt under control, and increased pressure on Athens to seek billions of euros of emergency loans from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.
    • The Greek government posted a budget deficit of € 32.34 billion or 13.6% of gross domestic product in 2009, not the 12.7% which it had reported earlier. The deficit might be revised again, by between 0.3 and 0.5 percentage points of GDP, because of uncertainty about the quality of Greece’s data and accounting procedures.
    • The incoming socialist government said Greece’s 2009 budget deficit would be twice as big as a previous estimates — and four times EU ceiling.
  • Research gap left airlines exposed to volcano’s blast
    • A shutdown of European airspace that cost carriers $1.7 billion following a volcanic eruption in Iceland was exacerbated by a lack of research into the effects of ash on jet engines and overreliance on computer modelling. While the blast was unusually disruptive because of a rare mix of ice and molten rock, together with a wind direction that blew dust to Europe, flight bans would have been shorter with a better understanding of engine tolerances and cloud density.
    • More than 100,000 flights were cancelled following the April 14 eruption amid concerns that glass-like particles formed when lava was cooled by ice might melt in aircraft engines and clog turbines. European transport ministers took five days to agree that airports could open with the dust still in the air.
  • Want to know some financial details of the riches football clubs in the world?
    • This graphic that appeared in today's ET gives a very good picture of it. Interesting. Where do our IPL teams stand in comparison?
Language Lessons
  • truism: Noun
    • An obvious truth
    • eg: It is not a mutually exclusive choice between use of force and development when it comes to combating Maoists — so said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, rather, the strategy must have both prongs. This might appear a truism, so apparent as to merit no specific mention.
  • fealty: Noun
    • The loyalty that citizens owe to their country (or subjects to their sovereign)