Politics & the Nation
  • Should Governors be removed whenever there is a change in the ruling party?
Finance & Economy
  • ATM inventor dead
    • John Shepherd-Barron, the man who invented the world's first ATM in Enfield, London, in 1967, died on Saturday.
    • He had come up with the idea after wondering why banks couldn’t operate a system like a chocolate-vending machine.
    • The first product was installed at Barclays Enfield branch in London June 27, 1967.
  • On India's health insurance market
    • India’s insurance market is under-penetrated, with less than 15% of the population having a health cover in some form or other.
  • On inward remittances
    • Officially-recorded remittance flows to developing countries were $316 billion in 2009, of which around 16%, or $49 billion, flowed to India, making it the top recipient — ahead of China, Mexico and the Philippines.
    • The latest balance of payments data published by the RBI, however, puts the figure at $55 billion.
    • Remittance flows currently constitute around 4% of India’s GDP.
  • Why is that there will be a hike in electricity charges for most of the North India while there won't be a comparable hike for other regions?
    • The answer lies in APM gas and NTPC's electricity generation network.
    • The government is reportedly going to hike the price of APM gas. Natural gas produced by ONGC and Oil India from blocks given to them without competitive bids are termed as APM gas.
    • Gas-based power plants of NTPC drawing APM gas supply power mainly to north Indian states such as Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, J&K, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. Only its Kayamkulam plant is Kerala supplies power to a few south Indian states.
    • Gas-based power plants account for only about 10% of the total generation capacity of about 1,55,000 MW. And APM gas is largely used by central utility NTPC that runs seven of its power plants (excluding RGPPL) with a total capacity of 3,955 MW on APM gas.
    • Against a requirement of 16-17 mmscmd of gas, NTPC sources only 8-9 mmscmd of APM gas for its plants at Anta, Auraiya, Dadri, Faridabad, Kawas, Gandhar and Kayamkulam. It also gets gas from RIL’s KG D-6 block and through spot purchases.
  • Maharatnas of India
    • State-owned blue chip companies Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), SAIL, NTPC and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) have been declared ‘maharatnas’, a status that gives them enormous financial powers and greater operational autonomy.
    • The new status empowers their boards make investments up to Rs 5,000 crore without the government’s approval. So far, these companies were classified as `navratnas’ with powers to take investment decision up to Rs 1,000 crore without the government’s approval.
    • The decision to name the top performing PSUs as Maharatnas was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December last year. But a formal note was issued on Wednesday. The exercise of Maharatna powers would be subject to the same conditions and guidelines as laid down by the government in respect of navratnas from time to time.
Language Lessons
  • burnish: Verb
    • Polish and make shiny
    • eg: The 55-year-old former trader is attempting to burnish the image of the once-venerable investment bank...
  • jejune: Adjective
    • Displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity; Lacking interest or significance or impact; Lacking in nutritive value
    • eg: ... It has been made worse by the unexpectedly jejune statements by people in high office who should be expected to know better.