10.06.2010

Politics & the Nation
  • Headley spills ISI’s 26/11 beans
    • The exchanges between the FBI and the Indian agencies as well as preliminary details of the NIA team’s interview with David Coleman Headley point to the ISI’s direct role in the Mumbai attacks. According to sources in the investigating agencies, Pakistan’s semi-rogue spy agency “planned and guided” the attack on Mumbai.
    • Read more on it here.
  • Irretrievable breakdown to be ground for divorce
    • The Cabinet will clear amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act today by including “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as ground for divorce.
    • Under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriages Act, which provides for grant of divorce, a decree of divorces for separation can be given only on the grounds such as “cruelty”, “adultery” and “desertion”.
    • The lack of this provision was recently pointed out by the Supreme Court while hearing a petition filed by Union power minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s daughter, Smriti Shinde. A 2006 judgement, too, had voiced the need for legislative intervention on the issue.
    • In 1981, a Bill was introduced to give effect to “irretrievable breakdown” as a ground for divorce, but it did not find acceptance as some were of the view that unscrupulous husband would desert their wives by taking advantage of this provision.
Finance & Economy
  • RIL drawing up plans to foray into telecom space
    • The board of Reliance Industries (RIL) is believed to have approved plans to enter the Indian telecommunications sector when the opportunity arises.
    • India’s largest private sector company is expected to go for only the lucrative corporate bandwidth market, or the business of selling telecom and internet services to companies rather than individuals.
    • It is likely that the company could unveil its intent to foray into telecom at its annual general meeting on June 18.
    • The government is currently auctioning frequency spectrum for broadband wireless access, or WiMAX, a technology that speeds up internet access and RIL is likely to set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to acquire one of the winners.
    • It is rare for a telecom company to sell only to companies, ignoring retail consumers. The only comparable initiative to what RIL seems interested in would be Tulip Telecom. But Tulip is small and has found it difficult to expand business beyond a point. Tulip offers companies wireless bandwidth solutions, including virtual private networks, on radio spectrum that is free for use. Only last month, the company announced plans to start its own overseas hubs for customers that required access globally.
    • In the year ended March 2010, Tulip had revenues of Rs 1,967 crore with a net profit of Rs 275 crore. Yet, RIL’s entry into the market will set the cat among the pigeons for telecom operators. Already beleaguered by falling call rates in India, the sector can ill afford a sharp decline in leased-line rates and corporate client spends.
  • Singapore denies ticket to unrated LIC
    • In a decision that may not go down well with New Delhi, Singapore has denied permission to India’s largest financial institution, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), to set up a subsidiary there until it has a credit rating from an international agency.
    • About a year ago, LIC had sought Singapore’s approval to set up a life company to sell insurance policies, and talks with the local authorities were progressing well. The state-owned insurer, which runs a representative office in Singapore, was hopeful of getting a licence. But during the final round of negotiations, Singapore authorities insisted that the parent’s rating was a prerequisite for doing business in the island state.
    • LIC has argued that conventional rating measures would not apply to the corporation since it is a unique entity that functions with only a nominal capital. Unlike other corporate entities and insurance firms, LIC’s paid-up capital is only Rs 5 crore. LIC’s financial strength is derived from the fact that every policy issued by the corporation is guaranteed by the government.
    • LIC fears that a rating based on the standard parameters will be misleading and not reflect its financial standing.
  • Sebi slaps Rs 1-cr fine on Manmohan Shetty on insider trading charge
    • India's securities market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, charged Manmohan Shetty, the former managing director of Adlabs Films, with insider trading for selling shares of his firm in violation of rules while fining him Rs 1 crore for the offence.
    • The regulator has accused Mr Shetty of violating insider trading rules formulated by it that bar senior management personnel such as directors, besides other officers and employees, from trading in their companies’ stocks for 24 hours after information about the outcome of a board meet is made public.
    • Mr Shetty, the original promoter of Adlabs, had sold a controlling stake to the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, or ADAG, five years ago. The group has renamed the company as Reliance MediaWorks. Mr Shetty sold the 10 lakh shares at an average price of Rs 402.60 on BSE on April 24, 2006, while the total market volume was 18,39,171 shares (including the 10 lakh shares sold by Mr Shetty).
    • Of all violations in the securities market, insider trading charges have been the most difficult to prove for regulators globally. As a result conviction rate is low.
    • Unlike in the US, where the securities market watchdog, the Securities Exchange Commission, or SEC, has powers to access emails and phone records while probing insider trading cases, the task is tough for India’s regulator that does not enjoy such powers.
  • What are the positive effects of better road connectivity?
    • According to a recent Planning Commission report, better connectivity has pushed up agricultural income in rural India by 17.6% and income from non-farm activities by 12.11%. The study conducted between January 2008 and May 2010, covered 14 districts in seven states.
    • The government has constructed about 18,240 kms of rural roads in 2009-10 under the flagship programme -- Bharat Nirman, about 76% of the target.
    • As per the report, connectivity has increased mobility in remote areas creating opportunities for trade. It also helped in improving their socioeconomic life. Before rural roads, it was difficult to take patients to the hospitals and even the doctors in primary healthcare centres and sub centres were reluctant to join service in the unconnected habitation.
    • The report also pointed at better healthcare delivery due to improved connectivity. Better access to health centres pushed up the number of people availing medical facilities from 62% to nearly 94%, it said.
    • Wherever roads were constructed, both direct and indirect employment opportunities increased by 25.29%, the report revealed. In Bihar the impact was clearly visible with employment increasing more than 70%, it added.
    • Connectivity also empowered rural women both economically and socially.
    • All good points and no bad points makes for a boring reading; isn't it? The report also found that Bharat Nirman projects are facing delays. It cited three main reasons for the delays --adverse weather conditions (around 37% projects, majority of them being from Assam, Bihar and Orissa), delay in acquisition of land (which affected 13.8% of the projects) and non-availability of labour and material (6.25%).
  • Broadband Wireless Airwaves auction touches record high
    • The cost of pan-India broadband airwaves, which crossed Rs 12,000 crore after 14 days of bidding, has baffled analysts and stunned telecom companies participating in the auctions, many of whom concede that the price has become ‘highly irrational.’
    • On Wednesday, the pan-India bid licence for BWA spectrum touched Rs 12,257 crore, after two weeks of auction, which translates into a revenue of Rs 36,772 crore for the government from the sale of three slots.
    • The government had estimated to garner Rs 35,000 crore from both 3G and BWA auctions combined. This takes the total revenues for the government from 3G and BWA combined to over Rs 1 lakh crore.
International
  • Big Mac recalls Shrek glasses
    • In a costly operation Big Mac is recalling the glasses it sold to customers because they contain a cadmium coating that is found to be capable of coming out into the hands of children. Cadmium is a known carcinogen and is also associated with a variety of health problems, including kidney and bone ailments. Read the full story here.
  • MBA Oaths
    • Once in a way we do need some laughter; don't we? This article is one such which puts us in lighter vein. Take a look. It's about different oaths that people are taking in Wall Street.
Language Lessons
  • xenophobia: Noun
    • A fear of foreigners or strangers

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