Politics & the Nation
  • World Press Freedom day
    • This day is celebrated across the globe on 3rd May to commemorate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to pay solemn tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
    • The theme of this year's World Press Day being organized by UNESCO is "Freedom of Information: The Right to Know".
  • Kasab found guilty
    • Pakistani Ajmal Amir Kasab has been found guilty on all 86 counts, including waging war against India, in the 26/11 terrorist attacks case.
    • However, Sabauddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari, accused of conspiring with Kasab by the prosecution — by allegedly preparing maps of terror targets and handing them over to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba for execution — were acquitted of all charges for want of enough evidence. The state will appeal against the acquittal.
    • Special anti-terror court judge M L Tahaliyani announced the verdict here on Monday after examining 3,192 pages of evidence and 658 witnesses in 271 working days. He will pronounce the punishment on Tuesday. Kasab, who hails from Pakistan’s Faridkot faces the prospect of a death penalty.
    • More on this at page 3 of today's ET.
  • India’s fighter plane buy may be delayed by a year
    • India's most ambitious purchase of fighter planes worth $10 billion will be delayed by another year, and will cost an additional $1-2 billion as shortlisted vendors, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin, resubmit their bids after the original deadline expires on Wednesday. Two years ago, the government accepted bids for 126 multi-role combat airplanes (MMRCA), estimated to be worth around $10 billion and scheduled to be procured by April 28. However, with the Indian Air Force still conducting technical field evaluation of fighter jets, that could take another few months before a final decision is made.
    • The combat strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has dwindled from 39 to nearly 30 squadrons. MoD has said that Indian Air Force is targeting 42 Squadrons Strength by 2022.
    • India became the battleground for the world’s top defense vendors, including Boeing, Lockheed, Sweden’s Saab, Dassault Aviation, EADS and Moscowheadquartered United Aircraft. With around $30 billion military spend in 2008, India is ranked 10th by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in terms of defense expend
Finance & Economy
  • Huawei bosses making emergency call to India
    • China's Huawei is scrambling to persuade a wary India that its telecom gear does not pose a security threat after the government blocked dozens of deals between Indian mobile phone operators and Chinese equipment firms.
    • Senior company executives are scheduled to meet top officials in the Indian security establishment later this week to try and resolve an issue that has the potential to stoke trade tensions between two of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.
    • Huawei is a Chinese telecom equipment major whose hardware rivals that of the West and reportedly comes at a substantially lower price. That's why the company is able to succeed in the Indian market.
    • India is the world’s largest market for telecom gearmakers and offers a $150-billion opportunity over the next five years as new operators set up their networks and 3G services are rolled out. India is also the second-largest market outside China for both ZTE and Huawei. ZTE’s sales in India increased by 50% in 2009-10 and contributed over 10% to its $8.8-billion revenues during this period. From just $170 million in annual revenues from India in 2005, Huawei ended 2009 with sales of over $2.3 billion.
    • But Indian government has been wary of the equipment from Chinese majors as it can be bugged to keep a tab on the conversations of the users and thus poses a security threat for the country. But Chinese makers say that it is a bogie that is raised by the Western companies because they are unable to compete with them on price terms.
    • For more details read this story.
  • Govt puts Karnataka miners on notice for false numbers
    • Miners reportedly resort to under-invoicing to pay less royalty.
    • IBM (Indian Bureau of Mines) fixes the royalty to be paid by the mining companies based on the data provided by the miners. The miners in Karnataka have reportedly declared lower rates to avoid paying rayalty.
    • According to a Mineral Conservation and Development Rules report for January, the average sale value of iron ore for the mineral with grade of 62-65% Fe (ferrous content) fines was Rs 1,130 per tonne. However, purchase invoices of at least two large steel companies that buy iron ore from outside show the rate at which the mineral was bought to be Rs 3,300 per tonne.
    • Royalty rates, which is currently pegged at about Rs 150 per tonne for commongrade ore, are fixed by IBM irrespective of the usage, be it for captive consumption or for commercial use.
    • India is the fourth-largest iron ore producer and last year mined 212-million tonne of iron ore. Karnataka accounts for the lion’s share of non-captive iron ore mining at 31% and has been the centre for large-scale mining.
  • The case of a whistleblower policy
    • Excerpt from an op-ed by Kiran Karnik.
    • The fact that many large corporate frauds have come to light only through an insider speaking out or a confession, and not through an audit report or a regulatory investigation, strengthens the case for a considered whistleblower policy to be put in place. In the case of Satyam, the fraud was brought to light by Raju's confession, and not by the auditor, who certified the accounts and the system, year after year. Similarly, the investigation into Galleon in the US is the consequence of a tipoff from an individual. The IPL can of worms — a favourite of media — was opened and exposed, not by the auditors or the governing body, but by the key insider.
    • Given these and many other experiences, it is clear that depending solely on auditors or the board is not sufficient. This needs to be supplemented by steps that encourage those in the know, the knowledgeable insider, to speak up — and to do so with no fear or hesitation. A well-defined ‘whistle blower’ policy is, therefore, a vital element of good corporate governance, and must include three main elements: first, transparency and easy access to all nonconfidential information about the organisation; second, guarantees that the whistleblower will be protected and will not be persecuted, pressurised, or otherwise discriminated against; and, finally, that the whistleblower can have direct access to one or more non-executive directors of the board. Of course, it is also necessary to have some mechanism of sifting out frivolous or mala fide complaints, and this is no easy task.
  • Some common marketing mantras
    • Those of you who are into marketing or have anything faintly related to marketing, should do well to remember some of the shibboleths outlined here.
  • Subsidised grain unlikely for better-off in revamped PDS
    • The government’s plans to fix up the public distribution system (PDS) to strengthen food supply to the poor could weed out the better off population from the welfare scheme and save nearly Rs 8,000 crore a year for the exchequer.
    • The move is part of the government’s efforts to ensure adequate supply of wheat or rice to every BPL family. It has formed a panel of ministers led by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to draft a National Food Security Act.
    • The government felt there is a pressing need to overhaul PDS because under the food security legislation, all households including the BPL and APL sections must get at least 35 kg of foodgrain. As there are nearly 20-crore households — 8.1-crore BPL and 11.5-crore APL — in this category, the financial burden on the government will be huge.
  • All you need to know about 'Beggar thy neighbour' policies
Language Lessons
  • wary: Adjective
    • Marked by keen caution and watchful prudence; Openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
  • glutinous: Adjective
    • Having the sticky properties of an adhesive
    • eg: Kasab will be sentenced, he will appeal the verdict, the case will drag through the glutinous layers of the judicial system and finally, his fate will hang on the advice the government gives the President on Kasab's mercy plea.
  • diddle: Verb
    • Deprive of by deceit; Manipulate manually or in one's mind or imagination; (slang) spend time ineffectually; procrastinate
    • eg: Since when has either reason been found strong enough to diddle a political stalwart out of office or a pocket borough?
  • encomium: Noun
    • A formal expression of praise