Politics & the Nation
  • Narco-analysis, brain-mapping illegal: SC
    • In a major blow to investigating agencies, the Supreme Court today declared as “illegal” use of narco-analysis, brain-mapping and polygraph tests on suspects.
    • It was of the opinion that no individual can be forced and subjected to such techniques involuntarily, and by doing so it amounts to unwarranted intrusion of personal liberty and violation of Article 20(3) of the Constitution.
    • It added that even if a person is subjected to such a mode of investigation on consent, the result of the test cannot be an admissible piece of evidence.
    • The court said subjecting a person to such techniques amounts to intrusion of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
    • The court further observed that in conducting the polygraphy test, the investigating agencies have to follow strictly the guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Finance & Economy
  • Education loans to come cheap
    • The government is working on a refinance scheme to offer education loans at interest rates as low as 4%, and plans to extend the repayment period for those who aspire to become doctors, engineers, fashion designers and IT professionals.
    • The scheme envisages the setting up of National Education Finance Corporation to refinance banks for giving education loans below prime lending rates. Currently, interest rates for education loan varies between 10% and 12%. The ministry of human resource development (HRD), which has drawn up the plan, also wants to extend loan repayment periods from 5-7 years to 6-12 years.
    • NEFC is to be set up with an initial equity capital of Rs 5,500 crore. The ministry has proposed to infuse Rs 3,000 crore in the company every year so that it reaches to Rs 35,500 crore by 2020.
    • An interest rate of 4% will be charged from those students whose parental income will be less than Rs 4.5 lakh per annum. This will be 7% for those with parental income above this mark but wanting an education loan of less than Rs 12 lakh. Loans above Rs 12 lakh will be charged at 9%.
  • Dilemmas in PDS reform
    • This is excellent editorial that is worth reading, contemplating and for coming out with refined ideas on the food security front. Take a look.
  • What are the lessons that India should draw from the Eurozone crisis that is unfolding now?
    • Take a look at this article by SSA Aiyar. Well worth a read. But to answer the question, an excerpt:
    • First, fiscal deficits do indeed matter. They matter less when a country has underperformed for so long that it has big catch-up possibilities that fuel growth, and this explains why India has not suffered like some other countries. Yet the taming of fiscal deficits and inflation in 2004-09 led to sharply reduced interest rates that were crucial in making India competitive in its 9% growth phase. The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) is a crude tool, yet did indeed help cut the fiscal deficit. The FRBM target of lowering the fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP is sensible in good times, leaving scope for expanding it to 6.5% in a recession without causing a Greek tragedy.
    • Second, Greece and Portugal have demonstrated that fiscal deficits in countries with structural problems can send the debt/GDP ratio skyrocketing without stoking growth. India has many structural problems despite having advantages too, and so should beware fiscal excesses.
    • Third, Greece has shown that a monetary union is a bad idea that leads to loss of control over exchange rates. So, India must shoot down proposals for an Asian monetary union.
  • India opposes move to link CSR, trade
    • India is trying to mobilise opinion against the proposed international standard on corporate social responsibility that could give legal sanction to developed countries to reject exports from developing countries like India.
    • ISO 26000 sets out the basic minimum goals corporates should achieve in areas such as labour, environment and human rights. Complying with this could increase costs for companies from developing countries, eroding export competitiveness of the products produced by them.
    • Indian officials fear that this standard could be easily adopted by some developed countries such as Japan and the European Union as a tool to discourage imports from developing countries.
    • In a submission to the ISO last May, India had argued that for the purposes of the multilateral trading system governed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), ISO-26000 should not be interpreted as an international standard, guideline or recommendation. The US and Canada had supported India’s submission.
  • Funny rules and grey zones in regulations can make a mockery of any probe into money flowing into local firms
    • Take a look at this article. It explains how round tripping happens and how the tax man can do nothing about it. Though complicated to understand in the first go, the time spent on it trying to understand it is well worth spent.
  • On stock valuation and analyses
    • Here is an excellent ET in the Classroom column that explains about fundamental analysis, technical analysis and quantitative analysis in stock market parlance. Worth a read.
  • U.S. has 5,113 nuclear warheads: Pentagon
    • The United States has a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile as of 30th September 2009, the Pentagon has revealed, a total of 8,748 nuclear warheads were dismantled during the period between 1994 and 2009.
    • This number represents an 84 per cent reduction from the stockpile’s maximum (31,255) at the end of fiscal year 1967, and over a 75 per cent reduction from its level (22,217) when the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989.
Language Lessons
  • candour: Noun
    • Ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty; The quality of being honest and straightforward in attitude and speech
  • layabout: Noun
    • Person who does no work
    • eg: ...Nor do the Germans seem willing to help out what they see as a bunch of Mediterranean layabouts.

1 Comment:

Swamy AM said...

My comment is on the article of SSAA, on what India should learn from Eurozone.

The author has missed out one important aspect of population growth in the Eurozone. It is very low or negative. How can one have a positive growth in the economy when the population growth is negative.

Also, the EMU is not a bad idea. It shows that in monetary unions the Countries have to be requlated by the Unions. Joining a union is as much an economic decision as it is a political decision. If Greece was not part of the union it would have never got assistance from Germany and France.

Also the populist measures of the Countries sponsored by Governments is a major cause. India should learn from that. Every penny from Government assistance should be hard earned.