Politics & the Nation
  • Agni II test fired successfully
    • After two successive failures last year, India (today) successfully test fired the nuclear capable intermediate range Agni II missile, with a range of over 2,000 km, from a launch site in Orissa.
    • The surface to surface missile was tested by army personnel as part of a training exercise from Wheeler's Island in Bhadrak district.
    • The Agni II missile, part of India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, is 20 metres long and can carry a payload of 1,000 kg.
    • Weighing 17 tonnes, the range of the missile can also be increased to 3,000 km by reducing the payload. It can be fired from both rail and road mobile launchers.
Finance & Economy
  • Why is the RBI prohibiting small firms from entering into exotic derivative deals?
    • You might remember that there was a rush for complex currency derivative deals in 2006 and 2007. When by late 2007 many of these deals backfired as the euro, swiss franc and the yen rose dramatically against the dollar. While the big firms could absorb the losses, many small firms had found that their net worth was wiped out.
    • By mid-2008, India Inc was sitting on a mark-to-market loss of a few billion dollars on cross-currency derivatives.
    • Numbers compiled by RBI show that small and medium enterprises accounted for just 1-2% of total losses from derivative deals. But these entities were the most vocal when the market turned against them.
    • Small businesses and unlisted firms will be barred from cutting complex derivative deals. The Reserve Bank of India is planning to bring in entry barriers that will restrain banks from selling derivative products to companies with scant disclosures, inadequate understanding of risks, and balance sheets and net worth below a certain size.
    • Over-the-counter derivatives help companies to hedge against fluctuations in foreign exchange and interest rates. But often firms buy the more risky derivatives to get a far better exchange rate on their export receivables or convert more expensive rupee loans into swiss franc or yen which carry a much lower interest rate.
  • Take a look at how the Private Equity (PE) investment scenario is likely to change in the country
    • Read this news story. Interesting.
    • Why should we be watching developments in the PE space? Because: Over $30 billion worth of PE money has been invested in India since 2005.
  • More trouble for Mr. Raja
    • Telecom regulator Trai’s suggestion that 2G airwaves are worth up to 1.5 times 3G airwaves is set to spell further trouble for communications minister A Raja.
    • Calculations reveal that if the Trai formula were to be applied, Mr Raja’s move to award new licences in 2008 cost the country about Rs 70,000 crore.
    • Take a look at this story for knowing how the figure is arrived at.
  • Worrying scenario on the pulses front
    • The country recorded a production of 14.27 million tonnes of pulses, in its various forms, in the year 2009-10, forcing it to import an additional 2-3 million tonnes, mainly from Canada, Myanmar and Turkey, to meet the shortfall.
    • The relentless surge in the prices of various pulses has emerged as a major cause of concern for the government managers. Its northward climb has subjected the UPA government to a major criticism from the Opposition, and even friendly quarters.
    • Therefore the government has proposed a strategy to overcome the shortage in pulses.
    • The ``Pulse Strategy’’ drafted by the Krishi Bhawan, in consultation with the experts, states and other stakeholders, has four major components — National Food Supply Mission (NFSM)-Pulses, the A3P (accelerated pulse production programme), identification of 60,000 villages in seven pulsegrowing states and intensifying efforts to enhance production in these cluster; and providing more support to the eastern states so as to encourage their farmers to increase the area under pulse cultivation.
    • The average yield of pulses in India is 0.659 tonnes per hectare. If, as a result of these measures, we’re able to reach a target of 0.8 tonnes per hectare, there would be an increase in total production by 0.15 %. It would mean that the country would be able to grow an additional two million tonnes in the next two-three seasons.
    • The Centre has already set up a committee under former Union minister Y K Alagh to suggest ways to enhances the production of pulses.
  • How much does our SB a/c earn interest?
    • It earns 3.5%. But beginning 1 April 2010, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has abolished the archaic system of calculating interest due on savings accounts based on the minimum balance in the account between the 10th and 30th of the month. Interest will henceforth be calculated on daily balances. In one stroke, the aam aadmi has been freed of the compulsion to complete all withdrawals from his savings account before the tenth of the month, lest he lose out on interest.
  • What is our debt to GDP ratio?
    • Our public debt is hovering at around 80% of the gross domestic product. The 13th Finance Commission has suggested that the government should try to reduce public debt from around 80% to 68% by 2014-15.
  • In spite of the Eurozone's $1 trillion package, why are the global financial markets jittery?
    • Take a look at this graphic which explains the reasons quite well.
  • England is T20 World Champion
    • England charged to an emphatic win over Australia by beating them by seven wickets in the summit clash of the Twenty20 World Cup at the Kensington Oval at Bridgetown on Sunday.
  • Rain forces India to share Azlan Shah trophy with Korea
    • Defending champions India and South Korea were on Sunday declared joint winners of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament as the summit clash between the two teams was called off due to rain in Ipoh, Malaysia.
    • The final match was abandoned after six minutes of play as the heavy showers lashed the turf.
    • This is the first time in the history of the tournament, which began in 1983, that there have been joint winners.
    • Indian defender Sardar Singh was adjuged the best player of the tournament.
    • India had made six appearances in the final of the tournament and ended on the victorious side on four occasions in 1985, 1991, 1995 and 2009.
    • They had lost the title clash of the 2008 event to Argentina via golden goal.
Language Lessons
  • diaphanous: Adjective
    • So thin as to transmit light
  • stippled: Adjective
    • Having a pattern of dots
  • de rigueur: Adjective
    • Required by etiquette or usage or fashion
    • eg: At the very least the bank could have done what seems to be de rigueur in the Indian context and appointed a committee to examine the issue!
  • idiosyncratic: Adjective
    • Peculiar to the individual
    • eg: ...we all have our own idiosyncratic gestures.