Politics & the Nation
  • SIT submits report on Modi’s role in riots
    • In what could spell trouble for the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the special investigation team (SIT) on Friday submitted its report to the Supreme Court on his alleged role in the brutal killing of the former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri during post-Godhra communal riots of 2002.
    • The apex court-appointed probe panel, headed by the former CBI Director R K Raghavan, submitted its report in a sealed cover to the SC registry in pursuance of its order.
    • The court had asked the special investigation team to submit its report on the alleged role of Mr Modi in the brutal killing of ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri on a petition filed by Zakia, the widow of the deceased. Ehsan was burnt alive with 37 others at the Gulbarg Society on February 28, 2002, a day after the attack on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra.
  • Insurance policy unIslamic, says Deoband fatwa
    • Darul Uloom Deoband, the most influential Sunni Muslim seminary in the subcontinent, has issued a fatwa decreeing that opting for an insurance policy went against tenets of Islam.
    • The edict issued by Darul Ifta department of Darul Uloom seminary was in response to a query whether it is lawful to take an insurance policy in the light of the Sharia. Millions of Muslims in India opt for insurance policies that pledge payment of an amount to a person assured or his nominee against losses or perils.
    • A month ago, the seminary had issued a Taliban-type fatwa that decreed it was “haram” and illegal for a family to accept a woman’s earnings. “It is unlawful (under the Sharia law) for Muslim women to work in the government or private sector where men and women work together and women have to talk with men frankly and without a veil,” the fatwa had said. The clerics at the seminary had said that the decree was based on the fact that the Sharia prohibited proximity of men and women in the workplace.
    • The recent fatwas have drawn flak from many clerics and progressive leaders of the community. Darul Uloom, which was established in 1866, is believed to have inspired Muslim hard-liners and leaders of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Many of its top leaders attend Deoband influenced seminaries in Pakistan.
Finance & Economy
  • ONGC, IOC face US embargo for energy ties with Iran
    • The Obama administration has threatened to slap sanctions against 41 oil firms that include ONGC and Indian Oil Corporation for having energy ties with Iran. The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) provides for sanctions against persons, including foreign firms, who invest more than $20 million in Iran’s energy sector in any 12-month period.
    • India, however, is not unduly worried as it feels that PSUs have not violated US laws that could make it liable for sanctions.
    • The list of 41 companies has been prepared to help the US Congress, which is looking at pushing through tough sanctions on Iran for its nuclear programme by seeking to punish international firms doing business in Iran. The House of Representatives and Senate versions of a bill seeking economic sanctions against Iran are currently being reconciled into one. The legislation seeks to sanction companies that help expand Iran’s oil refining capacity or help Tehran produce or import products like gasoline.
  • A Wall St under siege may opt for a settlement
    • It is starting to feel as if everyone on Wall Street is under investigation by someone for something.
    • News on Thursday that New York State prosecutors are examining whether eight banks hoodwinked credit ratings agencies opened yet another front in what is fast becoming the legal battle of a decade for the big names of finance. Not since the conflicts at the centre of Wall Street stock research were laid bare a decade ago, eventually resulting in a $1.4 billion, industrywide settlement, have so many investigations swirled across the financial landscape.
    • The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department, the US Attorney’s Office and more are examining how banks created, rated, sold and traded mortgage securities that turned out to be some of the worst investments ever devised.
    • The latest salvo came Thursday from Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general. His office announced that it would investigate whether banks misled major ratings agencies in order to inflate the grades of subprime-linked investments.
    • Many suggest that Wall Street banks may seek a global settlement akin to the 2002 agreement related to stock research. Indeed, Wall Street executives are already discussing among themselves what the broad contours of such a settlement might look like.
    • As part of the 2002 settlement, 10 banks paid $1.4 billion total and pledged to change the way their analysts and investment bankers interacted to prevent conflicts of interests. This time, the price of any settlement would probably be higher and also come with a series of structural reforms.