Politics & the Nation
  • National Advisory Council gets active again
    • The National Advisory Council (NAC), led by Sonia Gandhi, will get down to business this week itself with the Congress leadership finalising a list of 10 members. While four members of the previous NAC—Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze, NC Saxena and AK Shiva Kumar—will be back in the panel’s new avatar, there are six additions. These include MS Swaminathan, V Krishnamurthy, Narendra Jadhav, Mirai Chatterjee, Farah Naqvi and Harsh Mander.
    • The decision to revive the NAC came in the backdrop of signs of unease within the Congress over a drift in the implementation of social sector schemes and a demand for political oversight over the important vote-mopping programmes. Party leaders were of the view that the organisation should take charge of shaping legislations aimed at guaranteeing food security and health schemes.
    • The previous NAC, formed in 2004, had steered through the government’s flagship schemes such as the NREGA and the RTI. But the panel lost its clout after Ms Gandhi quit the post of chairperson in March 2006 following the office of profit controversy.
    • The composition of the new NAC suggests the advisory panel will play an interventionist role.
  • India rejects Pak’s water allegations
    • India rejected Pakistan’s charge that it was being deprived of its share of common waters. On the eve of the bilateral talks on water here, New Delhi asserted that it has never deprived Pakistan of its share of water, not even during wars and had no intention to do so ever.
    • The water resources minister’s statement comes in the backdrop of Pakistan’s threat to move the World Bank for arbitration over Kishenganga power project in Jammu and Kashmir, which it alleges violates the 1960 Indus Water Treaty as water would be diverted. Pakistan is said to have appointed two arbitrators to contest its case, though it is yet to formally approach the World Bank.
    • Pakistan is also objecting to construction of two other hydel power projects —Uri-II and Chutak —in Jammu and Kashmir. These issues are expected to come up for discussion during the meeting of Indus Water Commissioners here on today.
    • The 240 mw Uri-II hydel power project is being constructed on Jhelum river in Kashmir Valley. The 44 mw Chutak project is being constructed in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh province and would harness the hydropower potential of Suru river.
    • Pakistan claims that the construction of the Chutak project would block 35,000-feet per acre water. India maintains that there is no violation of the treaty and is expected to demonstrate this at the meeting.
    • Under the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan has exclusive right over three of the common rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — while India has exclusive right over Sutlej, Ravi and Beas.
Finance & Economy
  • Anil teams up with CBS for small-screen debut
    • Anil Ambani’s Reliance Media World will form an equal joint venture with iconic American media company CBS Corporation to launch a potentially disruptive network of television channels under the brand BIG CBS. The companies have reportedly reached an agreement on the JV and an announcement is expected to be made this week.
    • There is no restriction on foreign investment in TV channels, except in news. Reliance Media World is a Mumbai-listed company belonging to the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).
    • The joint venture will start operations from January next year and will launch a slew of channels, starting with those featuring syndicated content from CBS, which owns several hit shows such as NCIS, The Young and the Restless, CSI and America’s Top Model, as well as sitcoms such as Two and a Half Men. The JV will eventually enter the Hindi general entertainment space, which corners most of the television ad revenues. The company will launch movie channels as well as regional entertainment channels, but won’t enter the news space.
    • Reliance Media World operates FM station BIG 92.7.
  • A definition and a few examples of 'frugal innovation'
    • Frugal innovation is a whole new management philosophy, which integrates specific needs of the bottom of the pyramid markets as a starting point and works backward to develop appropriate solutions which may be significantly different from existing solutions designed to address needs of upmarket segments. We Indians are natural leaders in frugal innovations, with our ‘jugaad system’ of developing make-shift but workable solutions from limited resources.
    • GE MAC 400, a hand-held ECG device, Mahindra Geo, a low-cost fuel-efficient minitruck, Godrej Chottukool, battery powered refrigerator and Tata Swachh, water purifier, are examples.
  • Some stats about financial inclusion
    • Despite having amongst the world’s largest network of about 79,000 banking outlets, we still have just 15 crore saving bank accounts for a population of 118 crore.
  • What explains the high volatility in the rupee?
    • Take a look at this graphic which explains the issue very succinctly. Worth a read.
  • Who is the Census Commissioner of India?
    • C. Chandramouli
    • He is the news because he is reportedly trying to make the Census data available much sooner than what it used to be earlier. The results of the 1991 census were available eight years after the survey while the release of the 2001 census data began only in 2006. He is reportedly trying to make a whole range of decision support system tools available along with the data this time.
  • How old is a sovereign default?
    • The first recorded sovereign defaults occurred in the fourth century BC in Greece. A group of city-states defaulted on loans from the Delos Temple.
Language Lessons
  • fatuous: Adjective
    • Devoid of intelligence
    • eg: ...In that context, reports that the film Rajneeti has been vetted by the thought police of the Congress party — lest the foreign-looking protagonist and some dialogues of the film lead audiences to draw unkind parallels to some people and events — seems utterly fatuous.