Politics & the Nation
  • Bharat Nirman Kendras
    • The government is planning to set up a huge Public Information Infrastructure. These kendras are what constitute the core of the PII. A Bharat Nirman Kendra — the computer centre at the heart of the exercise — that will act as the physical access point for exchange of information, will be set up in each of the country's 2,50,000 village panchayats.
    • The project is expected to change the way government programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), Right to Education (RTE), and others schemes are implemented on the ground.
    • The government is planning Wi Max or wireless broadband connections in each panchayat in the first phase of the exercise which may take up to six months and cost Rs 3,000 core. In the second phase, it will take fibre lines to each village over 18 months at the cost of Rs 9,000 crore.
    • The project is being executed under the guidance of Sam Pitroda, advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on infrastructure, innovation and information.
    • The government is reportedly considering using the corpus of Rs. 18,000 crore that is available in the USO fund (Universal Service Obligation) for this exercise.
Finance & Economy
  • Mukesh and Anil patch up
    • The family dispute that drew the attention of the whole of the country finally seems to be headed for some kind of solution.
    • Mukesh and Anil Ambani took a giant step towards ending their bitter feud by agreeing to scrap a set of agreements that had stirred up trouble between them. The two billionaire brothers said in a joint statement on Sunday afternoon that they had decided to end agreements preventing them from investing in industries where the other was present and pledged to work together in an atmosphere of harmony.
    • The two sides also said they would soon negotiate a new gas supply agreement in keeping with a May 7 ruling by the Supreme Court.
  • The poblem of U without Q
    • We were dumbfounded when we came across this phrase in today's ET. This is shortcut for universalisation without quality.
    • Take a look at this interesting ET intractive. Well worth a read at least once. Presents some ideas.
  • Smaller towns steal the attention of fast food chains now
    • Take a look at this graphic which gives some quick details of how the smaller towns in India are attracting the attention of the fast food chains. They have suddenly acquired a place of pride and importance in their scheme of things.
  • Banks to offer ‘clean loans’ to telcos for 3G spectrum buy
    • Banks have agreed to give clean loans — the industry term for loans against which there is no specific security — to telecom companies to acquire bandwidth for third generation (3G) mobile telecom licences. This follows a decision by the department of telecommunications (DoT) not to allow telecom companies to pledge the new 3G licence with banks to avail of loan.
    • At the time of the 2G spectrum auction, DoT, telecom companies and banks had entered into a tripartite agreement wherein the licence was pledged with banks to the extent of loan availed of by the telecom company. But, during 3G auction, the telecom regulator has forbidden pledging of licence as it would amount to a transfer. As a result, banks have decided to give loans to telecom companies against cash flow and corporate guarantees.
    • Banks are generally not very comfortable providing unsecured loans since they have to set aside more capital on such loans. Secondly, they do not have a security to fall back on if the borrower defaults.
    • Nonetheless, most banks are going ahead with such unsecured loans since most of these loans would be short term, as telecom companies are expected to replace the domestic borrowing with foreign borrowing in order to bring down their cost of funds.
  • Have you ever been at the receiving end of an ATM?
    • We have had experiences wherein ATMs dispense less cash and at first it will appear as if we can do nothing about it. But we have, to our surprise, found out that there is a redressal mechanism through which we can get some relief.
    • Now RBI seems to be mandating tougher norms for this redressal mechanism. Take a look. It will be of interest to us.
  • Restoring American Financial Stability
    • With the American Senate passing a bill to restore America's financial health which differed from the version that is passed by the House of Representatives, the stage is now set for a process called 'conference' through which the two versions would be reconciled and a final one emerges.
    • Take a look at this piece which gives cryptic details about it.